I’ve been living halfway across the country for a little more than six months now and figured it was time for an update.

My plan of introducing the Midwest to Old Bay is slowly working, but it looks like it’s going to take a little more time than I thought.

In the meantime, I have tried to fit in with the locals and have even eaten both walleye and bison. 

Hopefully bison aren’t some sort of idol to my new community since I did enjoy it, but thankfully they seem to distracted by cheering for the North Dakota State Bison than to be too worried about me.

A lot of them are also big fans of the Minnesota Vikings. However, I’ve been successful in converting some people to Miami Dolphins fans, like my boss Cory Erickson, despite Hillsboro-Central Valley football coach Scott Olsen making it his current goal to stop me.

He’s sure to end his emails with “SKOL!”  but let’s be honest, would he rather cheer for Kirk Cousins or Tua Tagovailoa?

We know the real answer.

Olsen isn’t intimidating to me anymore, and I enjoy going down to the hardware store to interview him – only to stay 30 minutes to talk about fantasy football. 

It beats actually working.

I’ve also worked with Burros baseball coach Nathan Walsh, who is the most appreciative and funny guy. 

His summer baseball squad was the first team I truly got out of the office to cover here.

I get into these events for free, but I’d pay to get in if it meant I got to see Garth Limke arguing with an umpire – and get ejected.

I also think senior baseball player Payton Beliles, who’s also on the Burros football team, is trying to get back at me for putting a picture of him breaking his finger in the newspaper.

If his spit doesn’t land on my shoe while on the sidelines of a football game, I check that off as a good day.

Quarterback Sam Preston and nose tackle Barrett Willison make up for any ruined shoes, though, as they’ve become what my coworkers jokingly call “my best friends.”

They’re both knowledgeable on the positions they play and give me some of the best interviews. 

I also can’t help but cheer when Willison gets pick-sixes.

How could I forget the time softball third baseman Dallas Jorgensen, who now plays at Mayville State University, nearly nailed me with a ball during a playoff game because I “look like one of her teammates?”

Or the look H-CV volleyball head coach Katie Kolness gave me when she found out “there’s now a girl running sports in the town.”

I also got to witness both the boys and girls cross-country teams’ fantastic finishes at the state meet and see Burros senior Hannah Luithle’s face when she found out her family would be buying her a puppy because of it.

Or going to MayPort-CG cross-country practices and joking with eighth-grader Kayla Knudsvig that she’s secretly my favorite because she has the best name.

Almost everyone I’ve come across has been so welcoming with the nicest smiles, but I’d have to award MPCG cross-county coach Wendy Garrett-Mehus as having the best.

She seems overwhelmed with happiness every time I cover her hard-working team.

Most everyone knows I’m from Maryland by now and I have definitely received some wacky questions about it.

“Do Maryland Subways serve crab?” 

“Have you ever seen snow?” 

“Do you really have Maryland flag underwear?”

Two of those questions are a yes and one is a no, but I’ll let you figure out which is which.

If I had never seen snow, I’ve had plenty of chances by now. 

Never had I thought it would be snowing while I dyed Easter eggs or that I would have a white Halloween.

Nevertheless, I find I’m filling my memory book with exciting moments I never would have experienced had I not taken a leap of faith to move here. 

Less exciting are the times my boss Cole Short acts out which day – arm day or leg day – it is at the gym.

But, he did let me decorate the office for Cinco de Mayo, and I got to tape a hotdog to a firework his son Jack and I shot off for the Fourth of July, so I guess it can slide.

After six months, I feel a part of the community in so many meaningful ways and am looking forward to seeing how the rest of my first year goes.

I always close with a “Fins Up!” when I sign off on my podcast for my other job, so Scott, this time it’s for you.

Fins Up.