Robert Gagliardi mug

Robert Gagliardi

I wasn’t sure how to start this, but after mulling it over for two weeks the best way to do it is by saying, “thank you.”

For nearly 26 years, I have had the privilege and honor to be a sports writer, editor, columnist and several other duties for both the Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang. But this will be my last column.

Two weeks ago, I was offered and accepted a new job. Starting Monday, I will be the associate editor for “Wyoming Wildlife” magazine with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. I am excited and humbled for this opportunity, but it is also bittersweet.

When I got into this business, I figured this is what I would do for the rest of my working career. For a while, I couldn’t picture myself doing anything else.

But times change, and, for me personally, it was time for a change.

I could fill an entire newspaper page with names of people who deserve thanks for helping me along in my professional career. Journalism professors, former bosses, former employees and current friends and colleagues all of whom gave me the guidance and chance to pursue a dream, and gave me a lot of sound advice and encouraging words along the way.

I always wanted to be involved in sports. Writing about it provided me with the ultimate platform.

People have asked what the best part of my job was. The answer is simple: telling the stories of the athletes, coaches and those involved in numerous sports.

One former boss told me covering sports would drive him crazy because it was the same thing every week. The sports would change with the season, but it was the same cycle year after year.

For me, that was the furthest thing from the truth. Every year, every team and every game I’ve covered was different. I’ve covered nearly 300 University of Wyoming football games, and about triple that number for UW basketball.

There are moments, games and people that stand out. But what also sticks out is my first beat when I started at the WTE. I covered the small high schools in eastern Laramie County – Albin, Burns and Pine Bluffs. Nothing was more enjoyable than going to all of those communities where people packed the gyms to watch their teams play basketball. That’s where sports are at its purest, both back then and still today.

To the many high school coaches, players and administrators who have shared their time with me, thank you.

I became hooked on sports writing my sophomore year of college at UW. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do my first year-and-a-half there, but once I gave writing a shot (I didn’t do anything like that in high school), that was it.

My dream was to cover college athletics. To get that opportunity here not only to cover college athletics, but one as important as UW is to the people of this state was more than I could ever ask for.

Certain games and moments stand out. Bowl victories over UCLA (2004), Fresno State (2009) and Central Michigan (2017) are among them. UW’s season-opening 37-31 victory over Missouri also is up there. I didn’t see that one coming, especially not after the Cowboys fell behind 14-0 in the first quarter.

The Cowboys winning the Mountain West Tournament in basketball in 2015 was special. What some don’t know is that after the quarterfinal victory over Utah State, I came down with a nasty case of food poisoning (is there such a thing as a non-nasty case of food poisoning?) and nearly didn’t make the semifinal game against Boise State. That morning, when I got a call from a news editor to plan coverage for both sports and news, I was laying flat on the floor in my hotel room and could hardly move due to dehydration and cramping. Thankfully, I made the game and there were no “accidents” on press row.

I will miss a lot of little things about covering sports that many would describe as weird. Such as being three hours early to most football games, and at least two hours early for basketball. I loved watching practice, at any level of sport. Not to report on the secret plays or formations, but to get a gauge of what could be coming in the games.

I won’t miss coaching searches, but the coaches, players and so many others associated with college athletics will be missed. To all of them, thank you.

This career has afforded me a lot of unique opportunities. I’ve been to and seen places I wouldn’t with a “normal job.” They say football in the South is a different beast, and it definitely is. Covering games at Auburn, Alabama, College Station, Texas, Oxford, Mississippi, Knoxville, Tennessee, and Gainesville, Florida, hammered that home fast.

College basketball games at Kansas and North Carolina also are unlike anything most fans have ever experienced.

It also has provided opportunities to do other things within the journalism business, such as radio show appearances, a few television spots (I have a face for radio and a voice for newspapers) and the crown jewel of my career – to co-author a book with my friend and colleague Ryan Thorburn called “The Border War,” which depicts the history of the UW-Colorado State football rivalry. Sorry, shameless plug there. None of those things would have been possible had I not been a sports journalist.

From the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo, the Border War and the NFL draft, this has been a fun ride.

Last, but certainly not least, I want to thank the readers who took the time over the years to read my stuff. Whether you agreed or disagreed with what I wrote, thank you for your time, feedback and interest.

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(1) comment

oregonpoke

I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed your articles over the years, great job and you will be missed. I just read you are from my hometown of Kemmerer, no wonder you did such a great job! Best of luck!


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