FHC, this one is for you

    Serena Thiede

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    Oh FHC, where do I even begin? From freshman year to now, the gifts you have given me are too many to count and too special to keep all to myself. You have been a wonderful host for my young mind and soul, and I would love to thank you for every part of it.

    Freshman year was the start of my journey, and it was nothing short of amazing. Being on the JV golf team and winning the Coopersville Invitational as a freshman was a memory I will always treasure. Getting to win overall as a team with all of the girls was truly a blessing, and I couldn’t be happier about that season. Getting adjusted to my freshman year was a roller coaster, but from economics to biology, I loved every moment. In the spring, I continued my middle school love of track and field until COVID halted my life as I knew it. No matter how that year ended I would love to thank my teachers like Mrs. Potts and Mrs. Lipke for helping me through the ups and downs and letting me see that I wasn’t alone. 

    My sophomore year started uncertain and stressful as the COVID-19 overflow kept me from a lot of normal experiences. School dances were canceled and all the events I had been waiting years for had vanished from my train of thought. I still got to do golf, but the scene had a grim screen over a previously colorful film compared to freshman year.  Learning Spanish over Zoom and struggling through geometry hybrid was less than ideal, but they gave me the grit I needed to get through the issues as a stronger person mentally and physically. My sophomore year eventually fizzled to an end with my first high school track season capping it off with track season and my first regional appearance that will always go down as one of my proudest moments in high school.

    My junior year is when everything fell into place. I owe most of it to my old friend, Tate Greer, and his push to get me to join the class that is now my home: the FHC Sports Report. What started as an easy A turned into a passion and what my soul was meant to do. From being thrown into JV sports that I had to learn the rules of to covering state-winning athletes and teams by the spring, I grew attached to writing and the message I was able to open up for the athletes that didn’t get the recognition they deserved. I covered multiple all-state athletes on the wrestling team and both the girls soccer and boys lacrosse teams as they claimed their state title victories. Being able to give the teams and athletes the stories to send to their families and for their own pride was the most brilliant gift to me, and I knew it was what I was meant to do. On top of this newfound love, my classes like AP World History and Algebra 2 kept me on my toes until track season when I once again made it to regionals; my junior year will be a time of my life that I will always look back on with an open heart full of bliss.

    The summer before senior year is when everything changed for me. My editor, Terry Moore, gave me a voice that I never imagined I would get. He took a chance on a 17-year-old girl and gave her her dream way before she even knew she could have it. Terry gave me my first big writing gig when he asked me to cover the Folds of Honor Collegiate Golf Tournament that honors those who have served our country and left us too soon. I met players from all walks of life from UCLA to Clemson, the Naval Academy to the Air Force, and even some Big Ten teams like the Michigan State Spartans, who I have looked up to for years. This experience was not only my first big job but also opened up so many doors for me. From this tournament and getting to meet the coolest and most inspirational people, my career blossomed. I covered coaches like Kevin Jennings of Central Michigan who revived a D1 men’s golf program after thirty-seven years. I did interviews from across the country and made the best connections and met the most amazing people. I soon knew that this was my calling and that there is nothing I would rather do.

    To my senior year, my love for you is endless. From amazing friendships growing and the amazing opportunities you have given me, I wouldn’t want you any other way. You gave me the best school dances, the editor-in-chief position I had worked so hard for my junior year, the friends that I needed when I needed them the most, the memories that I can look back on for years to come to remember the joy; you have truly spoiled me. You let me cover my favorite sports, and write more than I ever thought I could; you saw me at my highs and lows without judgment. It is you I am forever grateful for. You gave me a captain title on my track team, the college acceptance letter that I had been waiting for since early August, and the best and biggest moments with my friends. From day one to the day that I am writing this, you have had my back along with some of the most influential people in my life whom I would love to thank for all they have done for me.

    First off, I would love to thank my parents for keeping me on track and always looking out for me when times got tough; there is no telling what would have happened without you guys. I would like to thank my friends, specifically Nathan Van Thomme, Cadence Anguino, Sydney Bacon, and Nick Vander Wheele for always having my back and watching me grow into the beautiful young woman I am today. I would like to give a special thank you to Mrs. Lipke for being one of my number one supporters since day one as a little freshman in her Algebra 1 class who has become one of my favorite people here at FHC. I would like to thank my coaches Chris Sobieck, Paul TenEyck, Todd Steverson, Scott Sietsma, and Amy Steverson for coaching me and being there for me all these years. You have watched me grow as a person and an athlete and have helped me grow my love for what I do now. Next, I would love to thank Brad Anderson. Without his support covering wrestling and letting me help out with the Ada Cascade Bugle, I wouldn’t be writing this for you all today. 

    Now, I would like to give my final most personal thank yous. Tate Greer, you are the reason for my love for this art form and the reason I know that anything is possible. You are my inspiration and I look up to you every day; never change Tate. I would like to thank Pierson, Noah, Ian, Thomas, Adam, Teague, Mac, Joe, and Riley for being my support and my framework for what a family can be without it being blood. Through our ups and downs, you are all true blessings that I will carry with me forever. Thank you Lucas for stepping in this year as my editor copart who has made all the difference and is one of my favorite people. Thank you to Olivia, TZ, Peyton, Philip, Lily, Riley, Mazie, Caleb, Owen, Jonas, Elsa, Charlotte, the Matthews, Jackson, Eli, CC, and Gabby for gifting me the biggest gift of all: love and support. I may not have been perfect at times, but you all hold a special place in my heart that means the world to me. My final thank you is to Anthony Sultini, who has never given up on me and never will. You are an inspiration to so many people and that will never change; please don’t ever change. You give voices to so many young writers, and you let us do what we love the most; that is a gift I will never get to repay but would spend years trying. Thank you for all you do.

    Thank you, FHC, for all of the good and bad, happy and sad, and everything in between. You have given me love and hope and that is more than I could ever ask for. Thank you, FHC. This is Serena Thiede signing off for the very last time.