I've never really written the story of how or why this blog came to be started.
To be honest, it's not all that exciting. I have always loved to write, and I have always loved basketball. When I was in college, I had a blog covering all sports (back when there was a lot less of them), and it did pretty well. In time, life got busy, and I stopped writing there, but I still had the itch to write about sports. Eventually, I tried to write about college basketball as a whole, but I quickly found out that task was beyond me at that point in my life - I simply didn't have the time to devote to watching games and writing about them every night.
This was all around the time when I graduated college and was entering the "real world." In August of 2010, I moved from North Dakota out to sunny Colorado (following a girl, of course*). I still had the itch to write about basketball, but this time a better idea started to form in my mind. I decided that a better course of action would be to pick a specific conference to cover, and from there, the Big Sky was an easy choice for several reasons.
For one, living in Denver, I am only about an hour from Greeley, which would make it convenient to get to games (I have probably seen Northern Colorado 25 times in person over the last four years). Another good sign was the fact that my alma mater North Dakota would be entering the conference in the second year that I would be writing about the Big Sky. It seemed like a great way to follow my school and be very well-informed. Last, there really was nobody covering the Big Sky. Some teams have dedicated local beat writers, some kind of did, and a lot of the schools had active message boards, but there was no definitive source for Big Sky basketball information, opinions, and analysis. I hoped to become that source. So in July 2011, I kicked off the blog.
This will be my 1,348th post here, with over 500,000 pageviews (and I think at least a couple hundred aren't from me refreshing to make sure my info is correct!), and almost 1,700 comments.
I blogged about the Big Sky for four seasons, or the length of a college career, and so to me there is great symmetry ending the blog after that amount of time. I've given the blog all I could for four years, but it's time for me to move on! Over the past year, it's been tougher to juggle life, marriage, other hobbies, and the blog, and I can't really make this blog as good as I'd like it to be in the time I have to devote to it.
I've always had more ideas than time, so certainly there is room for someone else to do even a much better job covering the Big Sky, if they so choose.
Of course, there are many thank yous to say, so feel free to skip this section if you'd like!
First, big thanks to the Big Sky conference, who was really supportive of me and the site from right when I first started things. In particular, Jon Kasper and Tanner Gooch have been nothing but great, always helping me when I needed help or had any questions. They are certainly top notch.
Next, I have to thank many coaches and players who happily interacted with me, answered my questions, and made themselves accessible. I won't name names, but you know who you are. Growing up in North Dakota, I always thought basketball players and coaches were the coolest guys in the world, but they seemed so far removed from me. So, it was a little bit surreal to meet some of them and realize that for the most part, they're as nice as you hoped they would be. I feel like I've had the chance to interact a lot with guys that will be successful at the highest levels of both college basketball and at the NBA, and I can't wait to continue to follow the careers of those associated with the Big Sky.
Among the media, guys like Gidal Kaiser, Bob Meseroll, and Roy Burton were some of the first to really reach out, answer my questions, and recognize that I was not simply a charlatan behind a computer screen (well, that part is debatable, I suppose). Among the "new media" types, I have interacted a bunch with guys like Brett Hein and Raphielle Johnson, who seem to be as nice of people as they are good writers. There are many, many others who I've had the pleasure of interacting with over the last few years, so just let me say a blanket thank you in the interest of not rambling on too much.
Last, of course, a thanks to all readers and those who have conversed with me on the blog, the Big Sky message boards, email, and twitter. It'd be pretty boring to write and have nobody to read it, so I am exceedingly grateful for everyone that took the time to visit the site and chime in. Special thanks to guys like MTJack and SDHornet, who have been with me for as long as I can remember on the blog. There is a nice little community here, and during the last stretch run, the commenting and discussion on this blog was as good as it's been in all my years here, Truly, thank you all.
I have had some great experiences from this blog, from writing previews for ESPN, writing an article for the Ogden Standard-Examiner last year, and meeting a ton of great people. Rest assured, I already miss writing the blog, and I haven't even really stopped yet.
When next season comes around, I'll certainly get the itch to write again. I may write a post here and there, but most likely, this will be the last post on this site. Of course, I'll still follow the league, I'll try to visit the boards, I'll still be on twitter, and you can always email me (bigskybball AT gmail.com).
More than anything else, this blog and the whole community around the Big Sky has been great fun. Don't be strangers.
There have been a lot of great experiences from the past four years, from watching the greatness of Damian Lillard, to Dylan Garrity's 75 foot game winner (the most visited blog post in the history of the blog), to Eastern Washington's furious rally to win the Big Sky this year, to Montana's almost unbelievable two year stretch in my first two years of this blog, to many others that are too numerous to name.
Safe to say I have no shortage of great memories that stem from this website.
*Who is now my wife
Follow me on Twitter @bigskybball