I grew up with sports.

One of my earliest memories is watching Edgar Martinez drive home Joey Cora and Ken Griffey Jr. in the bottom of the 11th inning in Game 5 of the American League Divisional Series with my parents. I can still remember them jumping for joy and me wanting so desperately to be Griffey. My love of the Seattle Mariners hasn’t waned at all.

Another of my earliest memories is of University of Washington Huskies football. It’s not a seminal moment, like the M’s, just that it was constantly around. I dreamed about playing quarterback at Husky Stadium, wearing a gold helmet and playing in front of my family.

I was never going to be Griffey, and I was never good enough of to play for the Huskies, but the love of sports those two programs instilled in me has lasted to this day.

Before I go any further, let me tell you a little about myself.

I came to Hermiston from a small town in southwest Washington called Longview. It’s a mill town, founded in the early 1920s to work all the recently purchased and abundant timber in the region. It’s an interesting little place, with lots of trees and lots of squirrels. So many squirrels, in fact, that there are squirrel bridges, a large statue of a squirrel and a SquirrelFest, but I digress.

I went to school at the UW in Seattle and majored in journalism. It was my dream school. My father went to school there. My paternal grandmother got her undergraduate degree there, and my paternal grandfather got his master’s degree there. I had gone to football games regularly since I was 10. It fit.

I wasn’t always interested in journalism, though. I started out as a chemical engineer major. My father worked at one of the paper mills in town, and I wanted to follow in his path. I wanted to create the same successful career he had.

Alas, it didn’t work out.

So I started from scratch, as a sophomore with no real direction. Then one day as I walked home from class, I was thinking: I’ve been successful in writing, and I really like sports, so why don’t I marry the two and write about sports? It made sense.

I worked for the school newspaper at the UW, The Daily, and covered the women’s golf beat. I helped cover the football and men’s basketball teams for game days. I also interned at Seattlepi.com, helping cover the Seahawks and Huskies.

Throughout my exposure to athletics, I’ve realized sports are inherently about people, and I want to highlight that here at the Hermiston Herald. I want the sports page to focus on all the possibilities that come about from sports in the area, be they prep sports, outdoors activities or any others.

If athletics means as much to this area as it means to me, then I am in good company. And if the facilities at Hermiston High demonstrate anything, it’s that people here take sports very seriously. I love that. I want to do justice to that attitude and bring coverage that respects and understands that.

I have a firm understanding of most sports. I played multiple positions in football, played for really smart guys in basketball and played lots and lots of baseball. I have my own theories and beliefs in each, and I think I can bring those into my coverage.

I’m very excited to be covering the sports in this area and also very excited to get to know the programs — and more importantly the people — I’ll be around for the coming years.

Because I’m new in town, any story ideas or names of players I should be watching out for or any information pertaining to locals sports would be greatly appreciated. I can be reached at (541) 564-4542 or by email at sbarbee@hermistonherald.com.

— Sam Barbee is the sports reporter for the Hermiston Herald. He can be reached at (541) 564-4542 or sbarbee@hermistonherald.com

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