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Boyd: I'm off to cover the Indiana Pacers, but first I'd like to say thank you for changing my dream

Boyd: I'm off to cover the Indiana Pacers, but first I'd like to say thank you for changing my dream

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James Boyd, farewell column

James Boyd's time on the Illini beat has come to an end as he's been hired to cover the Indiana Pacers for The Indianapolis Star.

I could tell you about my journey and all it took to get here. I could tell you about my new job, covering the Indiana Pacers for The Indianapolis Star. I could tell you about my last time walking out of State Farm Center on Saturday night, not knowing when I'll be back.

But, I'd rather tell you about the dream and how dreams change.

You see, like countless other the kids, I dreamed of being a professional athlete. I even prayed about it. I remember hitting my knees every night as a child and asking God to give me a shot at making it to the NBA. Back then it seemed so attainable, and I had already envisioned every moment. I'd win Rookie of the Year, Most Valuable Player and a championship all in the same season, quickly vaulting myself into the GOAT conversation.

How's that for dreaming big?

But alas, dreams change and I'm so glad they do.

Because the same passion I had for playing sports, it's become even deeper now that I write about them. That love of the game and, more importantly, the people who play them, is what drove me to journalism.

It's what drove me to what I believe is my purpose.

When I initially began sports writing as a sophomore at the University of Illinois, there was still a big part of me that dreamed of swapping roles with the athletes I covered; whether it was the men's gymnast being crowned a Big Ten champion or the men's basketball player who let his game do the talking. I always wanted the attention, the fanfare and the praise.

But now, I'd rather have the privilege of simply being there in the room, notepad and recorder in hand, detailing the story through the athletes' eyes; and eventually bringing that story to life for you all, the readers.

I can't say I've always done that well, but I'm forever indebted to Lee Enterprises — starting at The Times of Northwest Indiana and now in Central Illinois — for giving me my first professional chance to even try.

Working for this company since September 2018 changed my life and changed my dream. Some people may not believe me, but after spending 2 1/2 special years covering high school sports in Northwest Indiana, the past five months covering Illini athletics in Central Illinois have been pretty special, too.

During that span, I've written stories about a walk-on quarterback sleeping in a pickup trucka former defensive back turned astronaut returning to Earth and a left tackle taking guardianship of his younger brother.

You all read those stories and shared those stories, and I guess someone else was paying attention, too, because now I'm off to the NBA. I won't be joining Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon in the backcourt, instead joining him in the press conference room.

But again, that's the beauty of dreams and how they change.

James Boyd mug

Sports reporter James Boyd

Follow James Boyd on Twitter: @RomeovilleKid


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