See you in another life when we are both cats

By Jimmy Johnson

Of the over hundred stories I wrote at the Northern Star, I loved writing every single one of them.

The Cameron Bell feature? Best interview of my life.

Talking to Connie Teaberry about track and field, and how the weather was so gloomy? Always puts a smile on my face.

But then there was this story: My farewell column.

I’m terrible at saying goodbye. In fact, I wrote the first few paragraphs three different times for this.

Three years.

Three years of interviewing numerous NIU athletes. Three years of writing stories and always trying to make them eight to 10 inches of something different. But now, these last three years are coming to an official close.

Little did I know what would be ahead of me covering NIU athletics when I was hired in the fall of 2009.

The sports section’s first meeting of that year included a visit from Mike Korcek, former NIU sports information director, and a Star alumni.

Mike said something that day which still resonates in my noggin of curly locks three years later: This is the best job on campus. He meant working for the sports section at the Star. And, boy, was he right.

This job meant more to me than just a paycheck. Sure, it was great getting X amount of dollars on the 15 and last day of each month, but the real payoff was getting to know various people in the athletic department and club teams.

Without them, these last year years might have been “just” another three years of my life.

I wasn’t a huge fan of college athletics prior to transferring to NIU three years ago.

But now, I can safely say I’ve made plenty of room for NIU: they’re the college program I’ve long waited to root for. I’m going to make a few trips out to Huskie Stadium each season, and I’m always going to keep tabs on the rest of athletic program.

I’d like to take the time to say thank you to Jeff Compher and all the athletes and coaches I talked with during my time at NIU: Thanks for taking the time to let me chat with you.

To Donna Turner, Joe Summins, Zach Peters and the rest of NIU media relations staff: Thank you for all your help with scheduling interviews, providing courtesy photos and making my first experience with a sports information staff a good one.

Thank you to those who took the time to read my stuff. I always enjoyed feedback, both good and bad. And to all my friends outside of the Star who supported me.

Most importantly, thank you to everyone at the Star. The relationships I made working here are ones that I will forever deeply cherish. Whether it was a brief conversation in the office, or helping me design a page that, for the life of me I couldn’t figure out at the time. I don’t know what I’d without you.

Saying goodbye isn’t my cup of tea. So for now, I guess I’ll see you later, NIU.