‘Slappy’ takes his final shot | TahoeDailyTribune.com

‘Slappy’ takes his final shot

Michael Traum

When a newspaper writer decides to leave his or her job, it’s customary to end things in one final column.

This is one of those columns.

After more than three years as a sportswriter at the Tahoe Daily Tribune, it’s time to move on, to pursue other career interests.

Looking back on things, I’ve helped chronicle the South Shore sporting world with more than 1,000 stories, briefs and columns. Along the way, I’ve picked up about a dozen journalism awards, including a prestigious national award, a California story of the year and numerous Nevada Press Association honors.

I wasn’t writing to win awards. I’ve always tried to work hard and do the best job I could, with recognition being a by-product of telling people what your sporting endeavors are all about. I’ve always said that without this vibrant sporting community, none of the awards would have been possible. Simply, all of you have helped me become a better writer and person. It’s a debt of experience that I’ll take with me wherever my professional and personal life may lead.

Leaving this position is not an easy thing to do. I started delivering the Tribune when I was 11 years old and I’ll always pick up this newspaper to get the local details. It’s a darn good paper with a hard-working, informative staff. I started playing sports in South Lake Tahoe when I was 5 years old. The business and personal relationships I’ve forged with many of you since then leave me with a sense of community and belonging far greater than when I started.

I won’t be going far. In fact, my wife, Tracy, and I are staying in town. We love it here and want to continue to contribute. The state of athletics, and life in general, are unparalleled at Lake Tahoe.

Another customary thing to do when leaving is to make a wish list. The first thing is tough to decide, as there are many issues worthy of a wish.

But here goes.

* For the Whittell High football team to finally get a win. My desire to motivate them in a recent column was simply misunderstood. Having the “heart” to win shouldn’t be equated with the final score. Anyone who knows me would tell you that I want to see that group of boys walk of the field knowing what it’s like to be a winner. They do deserve it.

* To see an Olympic champion born out of a South Shore ski resort. It’s only a matter of time.

* Another state championship for the South Tahoe High basketball team. The program represents the essence of sacrifice and determination among young athletes. Any time they win reaffirms that hard work does pay off.

* More sporting facilities for kids and adults. And along the way, maybe somebody will discover a way to make it snow enough to keep the ski resorts happy but cease in time to give spring sports a fighting chance.

* To see the good kids out there to be continually rewarded and encouraged to play and study to their utmost abilities.

* For whoever takes my position to be extended the same courtesy and professionalism that all of you did for me in our daily sports dealings.

* Maybe most importantly, for coaches, parents and to remember that the games and the glory are for the kids, not them.

I’m sure there are many other things that will come to mind the minute I file this column. In fact, there are so many great things going on in Tahoe that I could wear out the rest of the letters on this keyboard just thinking of a few.

So, there’s just one last thing to share with you. It’s sort of an inside joke that I hope personalizes this experience for all of you as it did for me.

During the few idle minutes at work, my colleagues and I would dilute the hectic pace by bantering about a variety of things. Through all the frivolity, I somehow gained the nickname of “Slappy.” I’ve since figured that being called “Slappy” is a good thing. It’s a designation of respect and recognition for the hard work and fun we’ve had around here. “Slappy” means you’re respected by most everyone for the kind of person you are and personality you have. In a way, everyone is a “Slappy,” if they mean well, are a genuine person and work as hard as they can.

It’s been a lot of fun around here. I’ll miss it.

Slappy has left the building.

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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