MELLENBRUCH: So long, Minot

I didn’t even apply for this job.

After graduating college in May 2013, I always knew I’d need to venture out in pursuit of my first professional gig, but I never expected to leave my beloved home state of Minnesota for the better part of three years.

The Devils Lake Journal gave me my start. The Journal is an admittedly small operation, but, in hindsight, it was the perfect spot to get my first taste of full-time journalism.

Eight months later, Ryan Holmgren emailed me with an unexpected job offer at The Minot Daily News, and truthfully, I didn’t accept it right away. A move to Minot was also a move two hours farther from home. That was tough to consider.

But, of course, I took the job. More than two years later, as I cap my first year as the Minot Daily’s sports editor, I’m proud to say that I did.

And now, I have to say goodbye.

Today is my last day as sports editor of The Minot Daily News.

For now, your praise and/or complaints can be directed to John Denega, who will serve as interim sports editor until a permanent replacement is found. With John and staff writer Mark Jones at the helm, the sports department is in safe, reliable hands.

Knowing that made it easier to accept my newest position.

I’ll begin the next chapter of my career on May 9 at the LaCrosse (Wisc.) Tribune, where I’ve accepted my third professional sports-writing opportunity.

But I’m not just moving for a new job.

For nearly three years, my girlfriend – now fiancee – and I have stayed together despite living with at least 400 miles between us. She and I met in college. We’ve since spent nearly half of our six-year relationship with some element of distance to endure.

It hasn’t been easy.

But at last, our wait is finally over. We’re getting married in October, and I couldn’t be more excited to be closer to her and to my family.

That said, moving from Minot won’t be easy.

North Dakota sports fans are a rare breed, and I mean that in the best possible way. You guys are among the most loyal, passionate supporters I’ve ever encountered, and that made my job all the more enjoyable.

Covering a Minot Minotauros playoff game with 2,000 strong screaming at the top of their lungs, with everything at stake against in-state rival Bismarck. That was incredible.

Covering a Class B state basketball championship game at the Minot State Dome, with fans packed to the ceiling amid an announced crowd of just under 10,000. That was insane.

Moments like that get my heart pumping. Atmospheres like that are why I do what I do.

And I found plenty of them in Minot.

I didn’t know what to expect when I came here, but as I leave, I’ll take one thing away from all others: Minot sports fans – and North Dakotans in general – are undeniably passionate about their sports, and they’re loyal to the very end. I admire that about this town, and this state. You guys are awesome.

To everyone who’s worked with me during my time with the Minot Daily, it’s been a sincere pleasure. To those who’ve read me the past two years, thanks for following along.

I hope you’ll keep in touch. My Twitter handle will change slightly (@Mellenbruch_LCT). Also, feel free to drop me an email at jdmellenbruch@gmail.com. If you’re ever in the LaCrosse area, don’t hesitate to reach out.

I’ll genuinely miss covering sports in North Dakota.

Minnesota will always be my first home.

Now I have two.

Joe Mellenbruch was the sports editor of The Minot Daily News.