After 14 years, I am stepping down from my position as sports reporter/writer/columnist and tweet guy for Brookfield, Wauwatosa and New Berlin as of June 30.
I have been thinking about this since the end of the winter season. The main reason is my wife, Kathy, turned 65 (hopefully she won't read this) in July and is eligible for Medicare. I've been eligible for two years (I know, I look like I just turned 40).
The second reason is my kids and their spouses have given Kathy and me two new grandsons — Ayden in November and Lewis in February — to go along with Angeline, a 16-year-old Waukesha Northstar junior, and Aria, a perky 3-year old. We need more flexibility to go see them, especially Ayden, who lives in La Cresenta, California.
I have been blessed with many great teams, too many to remember, since I can't remember what happened two days ago. But I want to bring up five in particular, all state champs in all three of my papers.
The New Berlin Eisenhower girls basketball team won the state title this year, and to watch star forward Chelsea Brackmann take this team on her back and carry them to the tournament was unbelievable.
The New Berlin West softball team just won the state title with 4-3 and 2-1 wins behind the outstanding pitching of Cheyenne Sowinski, who, like Brackmann, carried the team on her back down the stretch. Sowinski outdueled Jenah Speth of Delavan-Darien, one of the state's top pitchers, in the title game and drove in the winning run.
The Brookfield Central 2014 state baseball champions were led by two studs in Elijah Goodman and Luke Sommerfeld. They threw in the 90s; were physically big and intimidating; and went on to play in college.
Goodman tossed a two-hitter and beat Plymouth in the semifinals, but then in the title game, Sommerfeld left in the first and Matt Ausloos, a Greg Maddox-type pitcher who knew how to pitch, tossed six shutout innings for a 9-2 win. Ausloos, the unsung hero, had also won the sectional title game. I admired him very much.
The 2013 New Berlin West baseball team won the state title in two wild and crazy games that were not good if you had a bad heart. In the first game, they trailed Kettle Moraine, 5-0, and scored twice in the fifth and three times to tie it in the seventh and go into extra innings.
The Lasers scored in the eighth, and West came back with two runs in the bottom of the inning on back-to-back suicide bunts by veteran coach Tom Farina.
In the title game against West Bend West, the Vikings led, 6-1, when WBW scored five in the sixth to tie it and send the game into extra innings. But the Vikings scored five in the eighth and won their title, 11-6.
But what I remember most was interviewing Farina on the field when, all of a sudden, two arms wrapped around me, and I was lifted off the ground and taken away as the players dumped Gatorade on Farina.
'I didn't think you wanted Gatorade on you, Mr. Skibosh,' said ace pitcher Austin Fritz. At 6-6, 230, he was able to lift me easily.
Finally in 2008, the Wauwatosa East boys won the state basketball title in Tim Arndorfer's first year as head coach. They beat Eau Claire North, 50-38, and then nipped Brookfield Central, their Greater Metro Conference rival, 52-48, in the semifinals.
The title game was one of the most exciting games I witnessed here. They defeated Madison Memorial, 58-56, in overtime. Memorial was led by man-child star Jeronne Maymon, who was built like he could play in the NBA, and Vander Blue, who went on to play at Marquette University.
The Red Raiders trailed, 52-49, when Arndorfer called a timeout. East tried to get the ball to stars Jake Barnett or Brice Powell, but Memorial cut off all the lanes, and the ball swung out to sophomore Eric Williams. If East didn't score or didn't get the rebound, it was over.
But Williams, playing like he was on the playground and nothing was at stake, quickly tossed up a long, arching 3-pointer and hit nothing but net to tie it at 52-52 with 28 seconds left. It was my most memorable shot in 14 years of covering basketball.
I will never forget Williams' answer when I asked him what went through his mind, knowing the game was on the line and he never hesitated.
'I like to shoot,' he said with a huge smile on his face.
He likes to shoot. Ya gotta love it.
I ask for forgiveness for anyone I offended by leaving them off my top five. Fourteen years is a long time, and this column is already too long.
I'll miss you
I will miss all the wonderful people I have met over 14 years the most — the athletic directors, the behind-the-scenes people that are needed for an athletic event, so many unsung heroes. I was also blessed with having wonderful readers. I had very few complaints, and when I got an email, it usually started off with 'I love your writing ...' Then I looked for the 'but.'
I especially want to thank all the coaches I worked with. Without their help, their teams didn't get in the paper. If their teams didn't make the paper, the kids didn't get the credit they deserved. That hurt me a lot. I felt like I cared more than they did.
I took pride in the teams I covered. I always referred to them as 'my teams, my kids' because that's who I am. Having 22 years of public relations background, I covered prep sports like PR, not the mayor's office. The last thing I would do would be to take a shot at them.
I want to give a special shout out to my boss, JR Radcliffe (he hates when I call him that). He was the best boss I have ever had. Now I've had a lot of lousy bosses, but that's still meant as a compliment.
JR lets the reporters run their sports pages and gives guidance when needed. He is also our sports administrator and handles that part of the job, something no one else wants or has time for. He handles Lake Country Publications, is super creative and knows sports, movies and music (most of the bands I have never heard of — another sign it was time to get out).
I also want to thank John Rech, who covers Muskego, shares the Southwest paper with me and has the patience of Job. And I want to thank Steve Tietz, who knows more about track and wrestling than anyone I know who doesn't coach the sport. Steve writes with great passion for the teams he covers, and I admire that. He also uses big words because of who he is, not to show how smart he is, and I respect that.
Andrew Gruman, formerly of Fox Sports, will take my place. He is younger, better looking and will do a great job.
I have been asked to continue to write as a freelancer, and I will also be doing stories for the Brewers Game Program.
But I have some other projects to work on. I am doing an audio book on the first book I wrote when I was in the speaking business, 'If You Wanna Have Fun, Go Someplace Else,' a humorous inside look at major league baseball.'
I also plan on writing another book called 'You Wanna Hear Something Funny,' which will cover several of the humorous and emotional moments I have gone through since moving out to Brookfield in 1953.
Finally, I'm starting my own website in the fall, called 'Sky's The Limit, Preps2Pros,' which will include blogs/columns on the Brewers, Packers and Bucks. Those of you who follow me on Twitter know I use my humor (some say sarcasm) when it comes to the pros.
I will also be writing a preps feature each week. This is what I miss the most. There are so many good stories out there. Please keep following me on Twitter, and I will let you know what is happening.
Finally, Kathy summed it up best — she's the smarter of the two of us — when she told me the other day, 'You might be retiring from your current job, but you are not retiring.'
As usual, she's right. Take care everyone.