Tonawanda News

April 11, 2014

PARRINO: Taking the Tonawandas with me

By Matt Parrino
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News —

Driving into work Friday night, my last as sports editor at the Tonawanda News, I drove past the original Clinton Small Stadium in the city of Tonawanda.

I've passed it almost every day since I started about two years ago at the News, but I never really notice it anymore — especially after the luxurious new field was constructed for the Warriors last season.

But I'm glad I spotted the old field one last time before I move out to Las Vegas next week to start my new job as Web Producer for the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

It's the stadium where I cut my teeth as a professional journalist and where my relationship with the Tonawandas was born. It's where my education of the Twin Cities began — in the 103rd T-NT Classic back in 2012, the final T-NT game ever on those hallowed grounds.

I remember getting to the stadium about two hours before kickoff between the Lumberjacks and the Warriors, excited to finally see this unbelievable rivalry everyone around here was talking about. About 500 people were already there, and by game time the stands were filled to capacity and there were clusters of people at each corner of both end zones. I had never seen anything like it.

What followed was the best high school football game I have seen in my tenure. Watching those young men leave everything they had on that field for their city and school continues to amaze me to this day.

Clayton Hess' warrior spirit, Nehemiah Stone's relentless rushing attack, Ian Gilhausen and Steven Warthling's senior leadership and passion — everything in that game was memorable.

And almost everything since then has been a true joy. The highlights certainly include reporting on Kenmore West basketball's upset playoff victory over Williamsville North last season, Tonawanda baseball's sectional title run in 2013 and Cardinal O'Hara girl's basketball state title this season.

I want to thank everybody from North Tonawanda, Tonawanda and Kenmore. Coaches, players, community members — for their support and assistance in helping me do my best to cover your local high school teams. 

I also want to say thank you to my co-workers here at the News, for their friendship, guidance and kindness ever since I started here. Some are still here and some have moved on, but no doubt I take those friendships with me.

At the heart of it all, the Tonawanda News is a small newspaper performing a vital service to its subscribing communities. The future is a bit hazy for newspapers and their role in today's society, but I really hope that journalism and information gathering continue to thrive, not only for my peers, but for the readers in whatever form, be it print or digital.

Much like the old Clint Small stadium, which now sits abandoned on Main Street in the city of Tonawanda, the News means something to those that curate its pages and those that want to read about the remarkable people within the borders of the Tonawandas and Kenmore. It's a special little place in Western New York, that I knew very little about before starting at the News. But now I take it with me, and I will cherish the memories.

To respond to @MattParrino find and follow him on Twitter.