Covering Park Hill’s soccer team title run was enjoyable

My first half year of covering high school sports here came to an conclusion Saturday evening when Park Hill claimed the first state championship in the program’s history.

It was fun to see the success of Park Hill throughout the year and I started to wonder how good the team could be. They finally got over the quarterfinal hurdle and advanced to state for only the second in school history.

Goalkeeper Kelbey Emerson said that was the confidence boost needed. The Trojans kept winning and ended in a title.

The team’s seniors contributed but so did the underclassmen. The depth of the team turned out to be unmatched.

And it’s kind of funny how things work at times. Sometimes teams you expect to win don’t and teams you don’t know what will happen surprises you. Park Hill has had a great run over the past few years and the tradition it has built should continue for the next few years.

The program has had three Division I recruits over the past few years and who knows, that number might grow in the upcoming years.

It was fun for me, as a writer, to share the story of the state semifinals and title game. I was lucky enough to talk Ross Martin out of retirement to cover the quarterfinals and they picked up a win.

I had numerous parents stop me and thank me for the coverage this year. I’m glad we can do it. I know the KC Star provided great coverage of the event as well but I hope it means more for the Trojans fans to know we wrote something on every single game and was there all season.

Changing landscape, part I

I recently had chance to go home to Joplin last week taking my daughter to an orthodontist appointment.

A few weeks ago marked seven years since the tornado that hit town. It’s still weird to drive through certain areas of town and see vast amount of empty lots. I’ve been gone for nearly eight years but I can still picture what some of the areas used to be like.

Others, though, are hard to recall. One of my old friends apartment complex is now a Casey’s. The old hospital is now a park with a few schools on the southern portion of the property.

An old strip mall that has turned into a much newer, bigger strip mall.

A lot of the business are new. Companies that never would come there before opened up like wildfire.

But in all of the driving around last week, the one thing that connected to me most was the going out of business sign at Toys R Us. I don’t live too far from the one that is across from the old Metro North.

I’ve never been to that one but I remember as a kid how excited I got to go to Toys R Us. The store was amazing and always put the Walmart or Kmart toy selection to shame.

The one trip I recall more than others was my parents 20th anniversary. Instead of doing something for themselves, they took three teenage boys to there and said we each can buy one gift but we couldn’t spend more than $30. I quickly found a video game for my purchase. I don’t really recall what my brothers chose but I’d guess Star Trek or Star Wars I’ll be close to being right.

At this point marriage and let alone a 20 year anniversary seems way down the road for me, but the selfless gesture is one I haven’t forgotten.

I’m sure other people have special memories of Toys R Us and I’m sure for those in the 30-40 age range it’s tough seeing one of our favorite places shutter its doors.

Changing landscape, part II

It has been a busy 7-day span since we published the paper last.

Late last Tuesday as we were building the paper we saw that Gov. Eric Greitens was going to hold a press conference. Then news broke on social media he was going to resign.

I was a bit shocked by that action. He weathered some of the earlier storms and attacks but I wouldn’t have guessed he would walk away.

He signed an eye-popping 77 bills on his last day and had a number of pardons and appointments to various board.

Now, Gov. Mike Parson has moved up to state’s top position. Looking at past governors in Missouri, it was rare to see one not fulfill a full term. There are many in the past that didn’t but they had the common denominator of dying in office. 

Parson’s ascension to the office has gotten good reviews from fellow Republicans.

“Mike Parson became Sheriff of Polk County the same week I became the President of Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar in 1993,” Sen. Roy Blunt said. “We have been good friends since then. As a county official, an effective state legislator, and Lieutenant Governor, he understands our state in ways that few people do. He will be a great governor and I look forward to helping him in any way I can.”

The Missouri Republican Party issued a statement when Parson took office last Friday.

“We are pleased to welcome Mike Parson to the office of Governor. From serving his state as Sheriff to serving his state in the House, Senate, and as Lieutenant Governor, Mike Parson has cultivated important relationships in Jefferson City and across the state of Missouri, and his history in Missouri politics will certainly be an asset,” said Chris Nuelle, a spokesperson for the Missouri Republican Party. “We look forward to aiding Governor Parson in protecting and strengthening our majorities, electing Republicans up and down the ballot, enacting quality legislation, and spreading the conservative message to all corners of Missouri.”

Cody Thorn is publisher of The Citizen. He may be reached via email at him on Twitter:  @Citizen_CodyT.