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Chapman: Thanks for the experience, Rugby!

By Staff | Feb 20, 2015

Well, thank you, Rugby! What a great experience living in this incredible community with so many amazing people. Writing this last column is bittersweet as a lot of memories from the previous 15 months flood back.

After making a difficult decision, Mariel and I are moving to Wyoming to further develop in our respective careers and continue seeing America. Somehow we’ve already seen and lived in the geographical center of North America and not many can say that!

Years ago, I grew up in an East Coast county that now has more than 1 million residents, yet 4,000-pop., midwest Pierce County has felt as much a home as anywhere I’ve lived.

Now, I really did not know what to expect when I left Minot for Rugby, transitioning from a sports-only focus to an all-encompassing role. Fortunately, Rugby has produced the most successful teams of any school I have covered in about nine years of reporting.

Expecting it to be, last week’s game against Four Winds is near the top of a couple dozen remarkable games/meets played by RHS athletes in my time here.

Boom! The Hail Mary pass from Brad Heidlebaugh to Zach Miller in last year’s football season, Reid Mundahl’s pass block and interception, Heidlebaughs (Shea and Brad) going on wild scoring runs, Nolan Hovland winning the high jump championship and, of course, an undefeated run to a state championship game are all memories etched in my brain. Consoling Carl after losses came with the territory, but the big guy is still at it! In all seriousness, Rugby should be proud to have the best young radio broadcaster in the state. And it’s not even close, if you listen around. The guy sounds like he has been on the mic for years and it has been a blast riding around the state to countless games with him.

I finally had to stretch beyond sports. Fortunately, Rugby also produced a wide variety of topics and issues to report, leading to a renewed sense of interest in local government. Seeing citizens ask more questions and challenge conventions is what you want to see in urban America, suburban America and rural America. No one voice is more important than each of yours.

Can’t say it enough, but I’m incredibly grateful for the staff at the paper, which is a group of hardworking and dedicated people. A lot goes into each week’s paper and I hope readers will embrace change and be patient during this transition period. The Tribune staff is committed to providing the community with a great product.

Entering my new address to subscribe to The Tribune is an exciting prospect. I’m eager to see how this community continues to grow as a younger generation is beginning to take a more active role to ensure a strong future. Fresh minds are wanted!

Captured by their creativity and versatility, the most inspiring people I have met here are the students. Many will grow into important roles in this community and others will branch out and show the country and world the special talents coming out of this area. I encourage the students to do as I’ve done and live in other places. They can always come back and when they do it will be with more rounded and informed viewpoints on all things. In return, the community will be enriched because of the countless experiences awaiting our young people.

Overall, I’ll leave with an easy feeling knowing how incredible smalltown North Dakotans can be. I’ll never forget the outpouring of support people show each other, especially in the face of illness and death. A dear friend in Towner passed away late last year within weeks of another young father’s death. To see Towner and a strong representation of Rugby raise $10,000 in a day for those families was unbelievable. That’s just how it is out here and I love it.

Best of luck to all our good friends in Rugby, Pierce County, Towner and other nearby places. We’re very grateful for the support and hospitality. Go Panthers!

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