Sometimes I can be a bit of a sentimentalist, which means I’m terrible at saying goodbyes.

If you haven’t guessed from that statement, this is my final piece of writing for the East Oregonian (if you don’t count those brief baseball write-ups on Page 2B — busy to the end I guess). I’m leaving the newspaper today, one and a half years plus a day after my first assignment, heading to another gig in Missoula, Mont.

So, effectively, if you’re reading this then I am already gone.

 
 
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By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian


Top 10 lists are tricky. And obviously a little subjective.

On Tuesday, Jan. 1, the East Oregonian ran a recap of 2012 with our top 10 local sports stories of the year. While fielding a few complaints this week — discussions of who was placed ahead of whom, exclusions and the like — I ran across a glaring omission.

And sorry Pendleton dance folks, you guys do win state titles, but this column isn’t about you. It’s about Joey Delgado.


 
 
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With apologies to Clement Clarke Moore (go ahead, Google him) and Christmas traditionalists everywhere, here goes nothing:

——--

T’was the day after Christmas, and all through the land, not a gym housed a game, not a player at hand.


 
 
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By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian


If you’re reading this, then life as we know it hasn’t changed and the world is still turning. If you’re using crinkled newspaper as blankets while huddled in the ruins of civilization, then the Mayans were right and you can probably ignore the rest of this.

 Also, good luck with all that doomsday stuff. Keep warm, little buckaroo.


 
 
Concussions have become the talk of the sports world from pee-wees to professionals in the past few years. As well they should. Head injuries are obviously serious and shouldn't be taken lightly.

Check out this fun (and informative) infographic from our pals at Masters in Healthcare for more knowledge than you ever thought you'd need on the relationship between sports and concussions.


Please Include Attribution to MastersInHealthcare.com With This Graphic
Concussion Infographic
 
 
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By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian


High school athletics is a constantly revolving door. By the time players reach their prime, they’re back outside moving on to the next venture — one reason high school dynasties are so truly impressive, but that’s a column for another day.

As graduation saps programs of its Friday night heroes and heroines, coaches are left to pick up the pieces with a new group, players who too will move on in no time at all.

But rebuilding doesn’t always come from within. A solid transfer student athlete, a player who switches schools and districts for one reason or another, can add a major boost — often unexpectedly.


 
 
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By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian


On Friday night in Enterprise, the Outlaws scored a touchdown in the final minutes of a game with Stanfield that could have feasibly tied things 35-35 with an extra point. But when Enterprise elected to go for two points and the lead, the Outlaws created one of the wildest endings in a season of Blue Mountain Conference madness.

When Stanfield’s sophomore linebacker Elvis Lockwood made the tackle to stop the play short, the Tigers clinched the 35-34 victory, the third playoff spot from the conference and also gutted the final hopes of the Weston-McEwen TigerScots.


 
 
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There were plenty of events over the weekend that had major consequences for the future — and I’m not just talking about your decision to go for the second and third pieces of birthday cake.

Playoffs? Yes, we’re talking about playoffs and a few Eastern Oregon schools punched their tickets to the postseason with football and volleyball performances.


 
 
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By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian


Each time the Hermiston Bulldogs scored a touchdown this year or took down an opposing football player in the backfield, the usually cacophony has erupted from the sideline. But certain accomplishments have garnered new celebrations among the Hermiston boys.

“Especially on the field if someone gets a big play, a tackle for loss, everybody’s cheering because we know we’re going to get a dog bone,” said Hermiston’s junior running back Trenten Anteau.


 
 
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By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian


Some people run as a hobby to stay in shape, others use it as the means to get from A to B. Cicely Waters runs to honor her mother.

For Waters, running became as much a mental escape as a physical stimulant in 2002. Her mother, Sharon Loftus, had been diagnosed with cancer of the blood and was battling the disease in Pendleton where the family is from. Waters, who moved to Portland in 1996 to attend the University of Portland, would span the state along Interstate 84 back to the dry side almost every weekend to be with her mother.