Thank you, San Juan County, for the last three years, 11 months

Matt Hollinshead
Farmington Daily Times
Matt Hollinshead says goodbye to the Farmington Daily Times after three years, 11 months.

FARMINGTON — Over the last three years and 11 months, there have been plenty of interesting and inspiring stories to showcase among San Juan County’s athletes, along with the business scene in just the last 11 months.

As rewarding as it’s been to tell great stories over that period, it’s time for me to say goodbye.

For those who didn’t already know it, this is my last week with The Daily Times. I recently accepted a reporter position at the Rio Rancho Observer to cover business and Sandoval County.

As San Juan County dealt with the economic toll brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, paired with sports being on hiatus, I took it upon myself to speak with local business owners and economic development officials and tell their stories of how they’ve been impacted and relate the steps they’re taking to revive themselves and in turn help revive the local economy.

I was quickly struck by how impactful it’s been to tell such stories and developed a genuine appreciation for it just as quickly. I underestimated just how valuable, and critical, business reporting actually is.

I wanted to witness and learn more about ways San Juan County, and the rest of the state for that matter, would lift its economy from its knees and work toward something promising.

From outdoor recreation to the local mom-and-pop stores that opened right in the thick of the pandemic, it’s clear how much these entities wanted to help bring the community out of that dark place and how much the community cares about and appreciates them in return.

In hindsight, I didn’t foresee this being the next stage of my journalism career, let alone that the COVID-19 pandemic would have a direct impact on that next stage. But at this time in my career and in my life, I simply couldn’t turn down a chance to be in the Albuquerque-metro area and to continue telling stories of livelihoods and local economic outlooks coming out of the pandemic.

Although I’m charting a new journalism course, that will never take away what I obtained covering local sports: pride.

I have immense pride in the stories I wrote and in the steps I took to build on the foundation that already had been established at The Daily Times.

From beats such as football and girls basketball, for which San Juan County produces consistently good teams in both sports, to beats such as Piedra Vista’s two-time state champion boys golf team and Aztec’s statewide powerhouse wrestling program, it was an honor to get to know the teams and tell stories of their success.

I’m also honored to have bolstered The Daily Times’ sports multimedia presence, as video in particular was previously described as “nonexistent” before I came here.

From an athlete making a certain offensive or defensive impact for their team to Laila Charley’s insatiable drive to return to the basketball court following an all-terrain vehicle accident, I’ll always cherish telling those stories.

Although I repeatedly thought about what could’ve been had The Daily Times remained at least a two-person sports staff, I’m proud of what was accomplished.

My hope is that my successor will keep building on what’s been done so far, from stories and multimedia to live blogs during football season.

I have endless gratitude for those who shared their stories with me, from sports and business to other general assignment topics. I also have endless gratitude for Daily Times editor John Moses, who gave me the green light to brainstorm story ideas.

Thank you, San Juan County, for the last three years and 11 months.

Matt Hollinshead covers sports and business for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577, mhollinshead@daily-times.com and on Twitter at @MattH_717.

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