As a young man, I always dreamed of writing and reporting on sports. Of course, I envisioned myself writing and reporting for a known media entity like ESPN or Fox Sports. But, as time went on my life took me in a different direction, I joined the US Navy and became an intelligence specialist. Essentially, I was a crime reporter with the type of concrete sources that members of the media dream about. After four and a half years of service I was discharged from the US Navy in April of 2012, and I began the next journey in my life, being a civilian.
Upon receiving my discharge and moving to Florida I began to search for a job. As time went by and none of the jobs I applied for were offered to me, and in many cases I never even got an interview, I realized that Florida may not be where I was supposed to continue my journey.
After three months of dead ends and heartbreak, I decided that it was time to come back home to Ohio. Not much changed when I first arrived, I applied for jobs only to wait helplessly hoping that someone would give me the opportunity to go to work. After another three months, and with a huge amount of prodding by my step-brother, a distribution center gave me a job as an order filler.
It was hard work but it was also good money and as a young man, 23 years old, I thought that I could order-fill with little trouble. But, apparently, life had a different plan for me and within a year back problems led me to understand that my body could not stand up to the stress that I was putting it through daily. I decided it was time for another change and I applied for a forklift job with the distribution center, hoping that less lifting was the answer to my continued employment. However, it was not and in early 2014, I was unable to continue at the job.
After taking time to assess what I wanted out of life, I decided to use the Post 9/11 GI Bill that I had earned by my honorable service in the US Navy. Using this valuable veteran benefit I pursued an online game design Bachelor of Science program and I committed all my time and energy to successfully completing my degree.
I should have done more research before committing to this course of action because from the start I could tell that my commitment to my education was not matched by the university. By December of 2016 I reached my breaking point, less than six months from my expected graduation date, and I quit school.
I spent the next three months trying to get a job. I applied and interviewed at a company in London, Ohio in late February and I even received and accepted a job offer from the company. However, as has been the theme in my life, it was not meant to be due to multiple delays for multiple reasons.
In the middle of breaking down because I had no idea how I was going to take care of my family, my fiancée saw an add from The Times-Gazette looking for a sports editor. I was apprehensive at first. After much prodding by my family, I applied for the job and got an interview. I met with Gary Abernathy and interviewed for the position. To my surprise, I was selected to fill the position. I had finally reached my dream of being a sports writer.
I started on April 3, 2017 and I had no idea what I was doing. I was apprehensive because I didn’t know anyone and I was unsure how coaches and athletes would interact with me.
However, my concerns were unfounded. Everyone has been more than welcoming and cooperative; many coaches went out of their way to make me feel welcome and involved. I have grown to appreciate the openness of the people that I have interacted with in Highland County. Everyone has been more than willing to talk to me and help in any way they can.
As the school year approaches and with it the high school athletic season I felt this was the perfect time to share this with everyone. I am excited for the upcoming season and I look forward to writing about and establishing relationships with the talented athletes, coaches, and parents in the community. I also want to wish all the athletes good fortune in the coming seasons. You all have been excellent so far and I look forward to working with you all for the foreseeable future.
Reach Ryan Applegate at 937-402-2572, or on Twitter @RCApplegate89.