I wasn’t sure what to expect, if I’m being honest.
I knew that my first job out of college would most likely be in a small town, but moving from Seattle to Hermiston was ... a change to say the least. No more UberEats, no more Uber and definitely none of the convenience living in a big city can bring.
But something happened my very first day that sums up my entire 11 months here.
I was in the Starbucks drive-thru (of course) and when I pulled up to the window to pay for and grab my coffee, the barista told me the person ahead of my already took care of it. I was so happy I called my father to gloat about my free grande drip. I went on to tell him how something like that had never happened to me before, and that this town had made a good first impression.
The football state championship that followed didn’t hurt and the countless athletes, coaches, parents and fans I met along the way made my short stay here all the more special.
I want to thank you for letting a stranger into your town, your lives and the cherished sport community in Hermiston, Pendleton and all throughout Umatilla and Morrow county.
The memories, friends and experiences I have made and had in Hermiston will stay with me forever.
It was here where I was reminded day in and day out why I chose this crazy career. I smiled as teams, athletes and coaches hoisted trophies and celebrated championships and I was heartbroken when local teams came up just short of the postseason.
Throughout both counties, I was continually impressed with the talent and grit every single student possessed and as someone who didn’t play sports in high school, I was also constantly amazed by how much athleticism was on display.
Each game on different fields and inside different gyms, I was welcomed by kind coaches and talented athletes. I hope I did your stories justice, and I hope that whoever comes next will find the same joy I did in a city ‘where life is sweet.’
Alexis Mansanarez has been a sports reporter for the Hermiston Herald and East Oregonian since August 2017 and is leaving for a new job at the end of this week. She can be reached on Facebook (Alexis Mansanarez), Twitter (@almansanarez) and Instagram (@almansss).