Mitchell Keenan at the 2019 Daily Examiner Sports Awards
Mitchell Keenan at the 2019 Daily Examiner Sports Awards

So long, and thanks for all the yarns

AS MY time in the beautiful Clarence Valley comes to an end, I decided to reflect on the rollercoaster ride that was the past 18 months.

For most people there has been an unfathomable amount of change. We’ve had to work from home, stop travelling and find new ways to keep ourselves going.

For me, the inability of travel has been one of the hardest things to take on board. I know it is something I take for granted as a millennial, but before COVID travel was what I wanted to do and I was lucky enough to get my fair share in before the world went into lockdown.

My last trip was a bit of a lucky escape, getting out of the United States just in time back at the end of March, but like most of us, it has only intensified my want to return.

Things have been difficult the past six months, there’s no denying that. The Daily Examiner has gone to digital only and while this was a move for the future, it has been hard to take for many readers of the 161-year-old masthead.

We’re all getting by in this new working-from-home model, and a regular get together has been a big morale boost, but in my very first years in the industry this is the last thing I was expecting.

Sure, the impact on the older generations has been devastating and I feel for those who have not been able to visit their older relatives, but for us young people this has hit just as hard.

Those just starting a career, coming out of school or still studying have been hit with a world of hurt. As if job uncertainty wasn’t already an issue. Don’t even get me started on trying to buy a house.

We are all limping our way through this, even the brightest, most resilient people are struggling and we need to get behind each other.

I have seen some amazing acts from the community to help others stay afloat, but many of us are being forgotten and this can be difficult to prevent when we’ve all got so much to deal with ourselves.

Daily Examiner sports journalist Mitchel Keenan and journalist Jarrard Potter.
Daily Examiner sports journalist Mitchel Keenan and journalist Jarrard Potter.

As a sports journalist, there was a lot of uncertainty over the landscape of sport as we move forward. I feel we are still yet to see the true impact, but I was so incredibly glad to see it back in the Clarence community.

Even though some of the bigger competitions weren’t able to go ahead, we have been lucky to have had almost a full season.

With so much talent across the region, I have seen some incredible moments and to see it all come together for the Clarence Valley Sports Awards is a sight to behold. You don’t find many communities that celebrate local sport like the Clarence Valley.

To all of those people that have helped me along the way, contributing articles or photos, giving me tips, pulling me into line and just being so incredible welcoming, I thank you.

And thank you for watching me babble my way through a good year of Behind The Sports Desk videos, you’re the real heroes.

While this is the end of my time in the Clarence, I have learnt so much that I will carry with me for the rest of my life and have experienced a truly unique part of the world.

Things are different, but I guarantee you won’t regret sticking with The Daily Examiner as they help the region move into the future.

I may be going, but I will continue to marvel at the achievements of the incredible community in the Clarence Valley. Maybe one day, I’ll be back.