A bittersweet farewell

NORTHWESTERN COMMAND – Nearly 10 years ago, my parents and I loaded two cars to the brim and departed left Concord, Ohio, driving south. I had relatively few possessions then. I had relatively few life experiences. But I was taking my first big risk. I had accepted my first job at the Rocky Mount Telegram, a small paper, in a tiny town on the North Carolina coastal plain.

My stomach was in knots the entire trip. Big change will do that, at least for me. I’d never lived outside my native state. I felt I was traveling to a foreign land as we traversed through the Blue Ridge and to the coastal plain. I fretted crossing the Mason-Dixon line, and feared only country music would be played on the radio. I was anxious as to what awaited in my future.

Cortez burned his ships when he reached the New World to keep his crew better motivated. My parents didn’t burn their sedans but they did leave me in Rocky Mount, N.C. with a 1996 Chevy Lumina, a flip phone, and a few furnishings for a $500-per-month apartment.  I was rolling the dice on a career in journalism, starting from the bottom.

Ten years later, after stops at Myrtle Beach and with the Post and Courier, I’m heading back north.

In the most bittersweet of the 804 blog posts I’ve authored for the Post and Courier, I am writing today to tell you I’m leaving the Clemson beat to be part of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Pittsburgh Pirates coverage team next month.

Breaking up the band. From left to right, that’s USC beat writer Darryl Slater, my wife, me, and Gene Sapakoff at the SCPA awards on Saturday in Greenville. Cheers, everyone

It’s an exciting time for me as I have a passion for Major League Baseball and enterprise writing, and Pittsburgh is a larger market, and nearer my family. But it’s also a difficult time.

I spent nearly all of my 20s, most of my young adulthood, an important formative time, in the Carolinas.

I met my wife in South Carolina.

I grew as a person and as a writer as I never could have if I didn’t travel here and live here.

I’ve made what I suspect will be lifelong friends here.

You’re probably not surprised to learn South Carolinians are thought to not always be receptive and welcoming toward Ohioans, but I typically found the opposite to be true.

I’ll miss many things like the environment of Saturday at Memorial Stadium, the camaraderie of the beat, the weather, thoughtful readers, and the staff at the Post and Courier. I have truly enjoyed about writing about Clemson and engaging with the Post and Courier readership, particularly in this blog.

I moved from Rocky Mount to Myrtle Beach in 2005 where I covered preps and then Coastal Carolina. On Jan. 21 2009, I traveled to Chapel Hill, N.C. to cover my first event as the Post and Courier’s Clemson writer, a forgettable 24-point thrashing of the Tigers by North Carolina much like Clemson’s 52 previous trips to Chapel Hill.

But there were more memorable events and stories to follow like Clemson’s overtime win at Miami later in the fall, documenting two ACC Player of the Year campaigns (C.J. Spiller in 2009, Tajh Boyd in 2012), Clemson baseball’s run to Omaha in 2010, and the up-tempo offense revolution Chad Morris brought to Clemson in 2011 that led to Clemson’s first ACC title in two decades.

I suspect 2013 has a chance to be the Tigers’ best season since 1981.

During my decade in the Carolinas I grew most as a writer and journalist in my four years at the Post and Courier.

The Clemson beat is a competitive one. Larry Williams, who preceded me in this position as the first full-fledged P&C Clemson beat writer, was a tough act to follow — made tougher by the fact that his reporting remained on the beat at TigerIllustrated.com. There were a number of other media outlets and talented writers covering the team like my friends Greg Wallace and Paul Strelow. It forced me to try and think differently, to provide you, the reader, with thoughtful and inventive stories. That’s what I’ve tried to do. Sometimes the ideas failed or fell flat, but I hope more often than not they made you think differently about the sport, whether it be investigating the incredible history of Memorial Stadium, investigating Clemson’s unusual coaching compensation practices, and always questioning, questioning why college basketball scoring is really down.

For those of you who loyally read my stories – hat tips to Matt Jerdan and Lee Elrod – I am particularly grateful.

I’ll be forever indebted to P&C columnist Gene Sapakoff for recruiting me, and to sports editor Malcolm Dewitt for hiring me and giving me the freedom to write the stories I chose to write. I’m also thankful to have a supportive family, and a wife willing to move with me as this adventure in journalism continues.

This is not an easy move. Even though I’ll still be in ACC Country thanks to John Swofford’s acquisition of Pitt, I have grown an attachment to the Carolinas.

Change is difficult. But as I’ve learned it’s impossible grow, to achieve, without it.

I’ll still be around for a few weeks but as I close this post I want to simply say thanks for reading … and keep reading because I’m confident the Post and Courier will fill my shoes with another talented journalist.

Thanks again, everyone.

27 thoughts on “A bittersweet farewell

  1. Sorry to see you go. You were my favorite Clemson writer to read despite my never having lived anywhere near Charleston. You were always fair and brought interesting perspective to Clemson coverage. I loved your more in-depth features listed above. You’re a great twitter follow too. Best of luck with the move and thanks for all the good work. It is appreciated by the fans. Go Tigers, and go Pirates.

    • Thanks, Clemsontide. It’s been a blast on the beat — made more enjoyable thanks to a devoted readership.

      Coaches, journalists, players don’t get paid, or earn scholarships, without a fanbase.

      Thanks for reading

    • My sentiments exactly…Travis will be missed. I’ve continued to read his columns even after moving to Wyoming! I hadn’t seen his blog but was Googling to find out what had happened to him. He will be sorely missed!

  2. Really enjoyed reading your articles and blog these last few years. You were always fair with your assessments of Clemson sports, which is hard to find with any beat writer of a small town school. I will miss your captioning and distain for all things Waco, Tx. Good luck in Pittsburgh.

      • Oh, the memories are flooding back. The beautiful Brazos!

        Seriously, though, thanks for all the banter here, Matt and Softbatch. It makes writing more rewarding when you know you have an engaged audience.

  3. Apologies for blowing up your twitter. You and your writing will be missed. I appreciate the angles and insight you brought to the Clemson beat. Sports stories go way beyond the stats and you did your homework. Basketball and football got their due. Unfortunately, you are leaving the Clemson beat on what may the best story in decades for football. Pittsburg is a great sports town. I wish you nothing but the best.

    • Thanks for the kind words, Cameron. I have picked poor timing to leave because I do think Clemson football could have a historic season — if the key players stay healthy and few new stars emerge (Isaiah Battle, Vic Beasley, young DBs, etc)

      I’ll be watching the season unfold from Pittsburgh, you can be sure of that.

  4. Good luck. I’m a Gamecock fan and always liked your (and Greg’s) coverage of Clemson. Whether Gamecock fans admit it or not, we always want to know what is going on with “the other guys”. And you both did a good job.

    • Jim,

      Warm regards from a Gamecock fan? I’ll take that as the highest praise possible. Haha. Thanks!

      At the end of the day I just tried to write about events and news as the way I saw it (along with hopefully being interesting and entertaining). I tried to be objective, which is the bedrock of journalism, and which is being eroded more and more I’m afraid.

  5. Well that’s a bummer! It’s sad to see you go. I’m definitely going to miss the quantitative, numbers-based view on things. Captioning too, of course. I’ve really enjoyed the last four years of your stories, blogs, and insight. And I’m glad the Carolinas treated you and yours well during your time here.

    Enjoy the next stop. Closer to family and in a huge sports market (go Pens!)? Hard to beat that. And maybe the paths will cross again in roughly 2025 when Clemson plays at Pitt (in the SEC, of course!). Best of luck to you, TS!

    • Matt,

      Thanks for being a loyal poster and reader over the years. You made this blog better through your contributions and rational thoughts.

      The Clemson beat has been great to me and I’d only leave for a rare opportunity, which I think this is. … I’ve never lived in a hockey town so perhaps I’ll begin following the Pens. Are you a hockey guy?

      And don’t fear, I’ll still be in the ACC footprint thanks to Johnny Swofford. I’ll make a point of being at that Pitt-Clemson game in 2025.

      Thanks again
      - Travis

      • I managed to grow up in the South loving hockey somehow. I really got into it at the tail end of Mario Lemieux’s career and right as Jaromir Jagr was getting big, so the Pens were my team from the start. And they just made a huge trade yesterday for Jarome Iginla, so it looks like you’re getting there just when it gets good.

  6. I’ve only recently found your blog, articles, etc. Man, was I happy when I did. This blog is bookmarked in my phone, and its my first click EVERY day getting home from work. Although I’ve only been around here a few months I will most def miss your insight. Whomever replaces you has huge shoes to fill imo.
    Good luck in Pitts. Since your an avid baseball guy, I hope the Pirates finally turned a corner last season, and field lots of winners for you to cover. Good luck and Godspeed. You’ll def be missed

  7. Congrats to you and sorry to see you leave.

    Your blog was a daily stop for me – ever since you started after Larry Williams. Really enjoyed your perspectives and writing. Actually turned several people to you as I would praise your coverage and insights.

    Post and Courier is losing a good one.

    Travel safe.


  8. I live in Colorado and run a message service to Clemson Alumni out here on a regular basis. Over time, links to your articles have become the mainstay of our communicaitons. We have all come to love your writing because it’s fair, balanced and insightful. I also have a Gamecock friend in Florida that reads you religiously. You will be greatly missed. Best of luck. Go Tigers!

  9. I from Clemson originally but I’ve lived in Pittsburgh for a few years now and we’re glad to have you up here. I have enjoyed your stuff over the years and will be sad to see you go. Don’t worry, your Pittsburgh Clemson club enjoys multiple game watches in the fall, usually at Buffalo Blues in Shadyside. We put the socializers in the corner and the armchair QBs cheer like we were still in the Valley. Anyway I’m a big fan of the Trib and you’ll have plenty of sports of follow with the Pens clearly bent on world domination. Now as for the Bucs…we’ll see, sigh.

    • Thanks, Jesse. Nice to know a few SC-expats are in Pittsburgh. I was just a few months away from reaching 10 years of residence in the Carolinas so I’ve earned dual North and South citizenship, right?

  10. Thanks for your well researched, insightful and engaging articles and blogs…..on all things Clemson spots as well as pop culture. Good luck.

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  12. Thanks for the kind words and well wishes everyone. I’m overwhelmed. Very, very kind. Grateful to have you all for an audience the last four years (and two months).

  13. NNOOOOOOOOOOO! One of the very few sources, and the best, by the way, of objective Clemson coverage can’t leave! Travis, I wish you all the best in your career move. But I’m going to miss the long form blog entries, the big picture analysis in the newspaper pieces, and the humor that was thrown in (Captionating) there from time to time. Your point-of-view and opinions always kept me engaged. The next guy’s got a high standard to meet.

    Pittsburgh is a cool town, a little cold, grey and snowy, but a nice place with an interesting vibe (and The Dark Knight Rises was filmed there!). Just don’t become a Steelers fan.

    PS The question that started the Ray Tanner freakout rant will never be forgotten. I do appreciate it.

    • Lee, thanks so much for the kind words. I know you have followed me from the beginning and such loyal readership means a lot.

      I always enjoyed your insights on the blog on the basketball program. I’ll be keeping my eye on Brownell and company to see how they progress. Thanks, again

  14. I started reading your columns when your were still in Myrtle Beach. Your perspective and take on Clemson Sports, Sports in General, and occassionally items outside of sports was refreshing and enjoyable. I wish you well in Pittsburg. I am and will remain and Atlanta Braves fan. However, I will try and read your column as often as possible.

    • Thanks, Loganville … The Braves have a good thing going. It’s going to be fun to watch the Braves-Nats rivalry for the next decade.

  15. Travis,
    Total bummer man. I haven’t checked your blog in a few days and when I finally do I’m “greeted” with this news. You were the best Clemson beat writer that has come along in quite some time. I will miss your unique perspectives on aspects of Clemson athletics that no one else covers. I have really enjoyed your stories about the athletic department finances, Clemson moneyball is what I would call it.

    You were always objective in your reporting and brought some of the perpetually overly-optimistic Clemson fans down to earth while also bringing the perpetually overly-pessimistic Clemson fans out of the doldrums.

    I wish you and your wife well in your new city and I believe you will be very successful in your career. I may have to become a Pittsburgh Pirates fan so I can still enjoy some of your columns.

    Thanks for a great four years of Clemson beat writing.

    Boyd Gregg

    • Boyd,

      Thanks for the kind send off.

      I tried to be objective in this role, that’s really the bedrock of journalism, though I worry we’re losing some of that as more and more fan sites proliferate, and programs take more control of content, traditional sites are becoming more and more the outliers.

      Still, I hope there will always be a place for it in the college game because oversight is needed — and there is a market for it.

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