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Memories That Help Define the Prep Sports Year

Making a Move

June 11, 1996|WENDY WITHERSPOON

The phone call came on a parched, August day.

It was The Times' sports editor in Los Angeles, telling me I had been reassigned to Orange County, effective the next week.

Stunned, I wandered my apartment, trying to understand what this would mean for my life.

I had worked at Times Mirror Square in Los Angeles for three years, covering nonrevenue college athletics. Moving to Orange County to cover local high schools, I knew my job would change dramatically. More distressing, however, was the realization that my community also would change.

I had lived in Orange County for two years but always regarded myself as an outsider--like most Angelenos, I was a commuter. The reason I made the long commute to Times Mirror Square was because of the people with whom I worked. I counted my L.A. colleagues among my closest friends.

It wasn't long, however, before I found my new assignment had several advantages--I began to lose my obsession, for instance, with the word "traffic." What's more, my new colleagues quickly took me under their wings and made me feel at home. Soon, I was laughing at the quizzical looks I got when I began telling my L.A. friends that I actually like Orange County.

And one of the best things about my new job is the people I get to cover. During the past academic year, I've immersed myself in many different lives in an effort to tell their stories.

One, particular thank-you note was one of my biggest rewards. The story was about a girl and her life-long best friend, thinking about their impending parting for college. In her note, she wrote simply "You understood."

I only understood, sometimes, because so many of you, here, have shared. You've opened your doors and invited me into your living rooms. You've suffered my 15th phone call at 10 p.m. to triple-check, again, how to spell your name. You've shown me your tears and your bravery. Trusted me.

And if I got it right, it's largely because you're now my neighbors, and I see where you are coming from. You are the coach who lives down the street, the player who attends my gym, the grandparent who shops with my grandmother.

Your story is my story.

I'd like to stay and tell it for a while.

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