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As the sports reporter for the Sedona Red Rock News, I have found a plethora of things to be thankful for this holiday season — not the least of which is the fact that I can use the word “plethora” in a sentence and no one, save for a few English teachers, finds it pretentious.

Some Days the Bear ...But there are so many more things to be thankful for here in red rock country.

I’m thankful for coaches who return my calls and emails, even if it’s the last thing on their long list of things to do that day.

I’m thankful for athletes and coaches who are not intimidated when I put my voice recorder in front of their faces and ask them redundant questions.

I’m thankful for anyone I’m quoting who gives me thoughtful answers in complete sentences.

I’m thankful for people like Jennifer Burns of the U.S. Forest Service, Lars Romig of the Verde Valley Cyclists Coalition and John Parks of Sedona Red Rock High School who are always willing to explain seemingly easy concepts to the stupid reporter.

I’m thankful for Mother Nature for creating these amazing red rock formations, and covering them with loose rocks, cactus and snakes so that not everyone wants to climb on them.

I’m thankful for Oak Creek Canyon, so this Colorado boy has a cooler, shadier place to escape to when the Arizona summers become unbearably hot.

I’m thankful for former players and coaches of the Sedona Red Rock High School boys basketball team who didn’t form a lynch mob to take me out when I wrote that the program “has never had a great tradition of winning,” despite the fact that they qualified for the state tournament in 13 of the last 17 seasons, and reached the state semifinals in 2000.

I’m thankful for my fellow staff members at the Sedona Red Rock News who are some of the hardest-working, quirkiest and most talented people I have ever known.

I’m thankful for the many athletes and coaches I’ve met in the Verde Valley who are passionate about youth sports and who understand that sportsmanship and character building are far more important than winning a race or scoring a touchdown.
I’m thankful that Black Friday isn’t a sport that I have to cover.

I’m thankful to my father for getting me interested in sports, and for not kicking me out of the house when I was an obnoxious teenager and rooted against his favorite team.

I’m thankful for a strong set of legs that helped me earn high school letters in track and cross-country, pedal my road bike over several high mountain passes and hike to the top of some of the highest peaks on the continent.

I’m thankful to Snap Fitness for not revoking my membership for wearing the same worn-out workout clothes I’ve worn for the last three years.

I’m thankful for the existence of energy drinks.

I’m thankful for sports-related websites who make researching all the teams I cover so much easier.

And finally, I’m thankful for readers’ feedback — good, bad or indifferent — because it’s nice to know that someone out there is actually reading what I write before they line the bottom of their bird cage with it.

For the full story, please see the Friday, Nov. 29, issue of the Sedona Red Rock News.

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