Sometime this week, I am going to a movie theater and watching Lightyear, the latest release from Disney/Pixar.

The movie is a spin-off of the Toy Story series, and it tells the story of how the “real” Buzz Lightyear inspired a line of action figures.

Why am I, a 28-year-old, going to watch a movie aimed at children? Well, I’ll tell you.

First of all, Pixar movies are made for everyone. There are moments to be enjoyed and lessons to be culled for people of all ages.

Secondly, I have seen every Toy Story film in theaters, dating back to the original released in 1995. I was barely 2 years old when that film released but I count the experience.

I eagerly attended Toy Story 2, which came out when I was the perfect age for my imagination to be captured. Then I saw Toy Story 3 as a high schooler.

When Toy Story 4 released in summer 2019, I saw it twice in theaters, even though it was an unnecessary chapter and one that left me bitter at the end.

Shoot, I even own the direct-to-VHS movie Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins.

So, I’m a Toy Story lifer.

My favorite of the series is Toy Story 3. The storyline of that one – which showed an all-grown-up Andy moving on from his childhood toys – hit me hard as a teenager who was about to leave behind my home and family in just two years to attend college, too.

Plus, I think Toy Story 3 is the most emotionally affecting animated film ever made. I mean, that incinerator scene nearly made me weep the first time I saw it.

But in the end, Toy Story 3 teaches a universal truth: Change can be scary, but change often leads to great new adventures.

That’s the point I find myself at today.

I am leaving The Oconee Enterprise. My last day as this paper’s sports editor will be next Friday, June 24.

I’ve only been in this spot one time before and that was back in October 2020 when I left my first “real” job and came to Oconee County.

I remember being pretty worked up at that time. I struggled finding an apartment, everything came together in a flurry and then I was leaving home again – most likely for good this time, as opposed to simply moving to a dorm room one hour up the road at UGA.

That first day, however, I started meeting everyone at this paper. They quickly settled my nerves with their kindness and willingness to welcome me into the fold.

I’d read the farewell column from my predecessor, Jeremy Johnson, before officially starting here. Jeremy talked about the positive relationships he established during his time here.

I must say, Jeremy was spot on with his fond feelings.

Publisher Maridee Williams allowed me to step in and make this sports section my own. I knew the section had been great for years but I appreciate Maridee for letting me put my own stamp on it.

News editor Michael Prochaska and I quickly found that we have many common interests (just not sports) and it’s been nice having someone with whom I can discuss opinions about television, movies and music. Additionally, Michael and I tend to always be on the same page philosophically when it comes to the newspaper industry.

George Windate, our page designer, showed great patience with me as I learned the designing aspect of the job. I had no prior experience but thanks to George’s help and expertise, I’m now a confident page designer.

Advertising representative Tracy Harmon is always good to provide a laugh or sound advice. I will miss her one-liners and zingers.

The two former sports interns who worked under me, George Zeliff and Emily Dozier, were the cream of the crop. I always knew I could trust them and count on them to provide excellent coverage when I was unavailable or, more frequently, when I was tied up covering something myself. They both have bright futures ahead of them.

And I will certainly miss talking sports with administrative assistant Amanda Prochaska. I’m just grateful that my two favorite teams, the Georgia Bulldogs and the Atlanta Braves, won titles while she and I worked together and her favorite teams, the Clemson Tigers and the Houston Astros, helplessly watched.

The last year and a half was a blast, filled with many great memories that I will expand upon next week.

But for my fellow employees at The Oconee Enterprise, always remember:

You’ve got a friend in me.

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