Back in December of 2019 a Kansan got his first glimpse of Traverse City in the same way most did in 2020.

Nathan Payne interviewed me for this job on Skype.

Zoom wasn’t cool yet, and that’s probably a good thing. I probably would have prematurely exposed my editor to my face in front of a wacky backdrop one day early.

Little did both of us know that a new coronavirus would be spreading likely as we were speaking somewhere in the world, throwing a wrench in the majority of anything that was planned to happen in 2020. Among everything else, my first full-time job out of college as a sports reporter at the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

Instead of covering events in places I anticipated — like Thirlby Field, Turtle Creek Stadium, The Big House, The Superior Dome and Ford Field — I found myself doing journalism in a different office for the majority of my first year.

At each of our newsroom twice daily Zoom meetings, I appeared in front of a different Zoom virtual background just about each one of them.

Monday I vacationed in the Bahamas. Tuesday I hit the Vegas strip. Wednesday I helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein investigate a break in at the Watergate Hotel. I met Joe Exotic Thursday morning and told my story to the Rose family at the Schitt’s Creek Motel in the afternoon. On Friday I went back to campus to cheer on my Jayhawks in Allen Fieldhouse, but only after I caught a picturesque sunset on campus.

Next week was when I really got to travel.

I started my week in a rainbow vortex with He-Man, then checked in with Rudy Giuliani later that day in the parking lot of Four Seasons Total Landscaping. Tuesday I reported from outside Spongebob’s house in Bikini Bottom, then I stayed in town and did an interview from the Bubble Bowl singing “Sweet Victory!” on Wednesday. Thursday I became a character on The Brady Bunch. Friday I saw the northern lights — with a wild Doge appearing in the sky.

Throughout all my travels, though, the one thing that stayed the same for me in 2020 was my ability to write articles like the one you’re reading right now for the Record-Eagle. Our content management system says I’ve had 393 bylines since I moved out here Jan. 3 and stepped foot in the office Jan. 6, with work in every section of the paper by April.

The “Three Amigos,” as Peter Garthe calls us, are not breaking up yet, at least I hope not.

I still have to make up for my atrocious first-ever round of golf At Sugar Loaf in May, and we have five football teams and two volleyball teams who finally have a chance at playing for a state title this month.

Hopefully both happen in 2021.

Follow Andrew Rosenthal on Twitter @ByAndrewR

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