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There was no me without you. Really.

It’s storytime, kids. When I came to  ORU, I didn’t want to be a journalist, but one day a random conversation with my predecessor and friend, David Sauer, sparked an interest.

“Russ, you know sports better than most. You’d be a great writer. I’m the sports editor of the school paper. You should come write for me.”

I thought he was crazy, but after thinking about it, I hesitantly agreed.

My first assignment as a reporter for the Oracle in 2014 was to cover ORU baseball’s media day by myself. Sounds pretty normal, right? Wrong. Maybe I forgot to mention, IT WAS MY FIRST DAY. I had never conducted an interview, I had never taken a journalism class and didn’t know any of the athletes I was about to talk to.  It was sink or swim. While there was some splashing around, I think I learned to swim pretty quick. It seems like just yesterday, but that was almost four years ago.

It’s hard to believe that this is the last time my name will be in this paper as a writer and thinking about the journey getting here is just as unbelievable.

Over the last three and a half years, this newspaper has provided me with an outlet to share my passion for sports with people not only in Tulsa, but around the country. The love people have shown me whether it’s been in person, social media or email has blown me away. It has also allowed me to grow and mature not only from reporter to editor, but as a leader, as well.

The Oracle has also opened the door for many different opportunities. I never thought when I stepped on this campus that I would ever be interviewing MVPs, All-Stars, World Series champions and numbers of outstanding athletes both amateur and professional, but I have, and I’m grateful to have had that chance.

But more than the big interviews, internships or awards, my favorite part about writing for the Oracle has been the relationships I’ve built with this amazing staff, who have become a second family to me.

These wonderful people have been my heart over the past four years. They have helped me grow not only as a writer, but as a person. I’ll never forget the many long nights we spent trying to make our deadlines and belting Disney songs like “I’ll Make A Man Out of You” from Mulan and “Hakuna Matata” from Lion King to give us the energy to finish the paper. They’ve been my biggest fans, and their continued support of my career endeavors both here at ORU and nationally in other publications has given me extra motivation. I’m so thankful to have them in my life. They are definitely not “cheeks.”

As I start this exciting, new chapter in my life, I would be remiss if I didn’t say thank you. Thank you to every ORU athlete who has allowed me to not only interview them, but to tell their story. Thank you to all my readers for taking the time to read my stories and support me that way. Thank you to this awesome staff, who have shown me so much love all these years. Thank you to my faculty adviser for believing in me and my abilities. You guys have made a huge impact in my life and I’m so blessed to have had this newspaper to help make it possible.