Kat's Pause: Goodbye, Farewell, And Wear A Damned Mask, Already!

By: Kat Szmit

Topics: Monomoy Regional School District , Monomoy Regional High School , Cape Cod Tech , Chatham , Harwich

Thank you.

As I sit before my screen, fingers hovering above the keys, myriad song lyrics ping-pong through my mind. One from Eminem about having one shot, one opportunity. One from “Hamilton” about not throwing away my shot. Even one from Sinatra about doing it my way. But the truth is, while I'm excited about my next chapter, turning the page is also bittersweet.

A little more than five years ago, I arrived on the Lower Cape, not green but definitely unfamiliar with my new beat. It began with coverage of local Cape Cod Baseball League teams and segued into training my camera on the student-athletes of Monomoy Regional and Cape Cod Tech high schools.

Though a seasoned sports reporter, I was still nervous when I showed up for those first games, wondering how I'd be received by new-to-me students and their families. I already knew I'd come to the right place when I stepped into The Chronicle's fabled “Bubble Room” for my interview and noticed my soon-to-be editor wearing red high-top Converse All-Stars.

Fortunately, my fears were for naught and it wasn't long before the Chronicle communities – both in and out of the office – welcomed me into the fold. It also wasn't long before I realized my new coverage area was something special, and I don't say that lightly. There's just something awesome about the Lower Cape, and at the top of the list is the people here.

Here's a perfect example. At the end of one of my first big events, an evening with the Harlem Wizards, two lovely members of the Class of 2016 sought me out in the Monomoy gym. “We heard you're the new sports reporter,” they said. “We just wanted to welcome you to Monomoy.” I was pleasantly stunned as nothing quite like that had happened before.

Though it's been just five years, it feels like many more given how I was woven into the fabric of the community, even before I relocated to Harwich. When I was asked what I'll miss the most when I venture north in a matter of days, my answer was and remains the people. So very many of you made my job that much more rewarding because of your warmth, kindness, and when I faced painful losses, compassion.

The memories I will take with me are many. Football games beneath the lights or under sunny skies. Watching student-athletes rise to the challenge of establishing new programs (boys and girls lacrosse, I'm looking at you). Big wins (boys basketball against Nauset) and even bigger awards (sportsmanship in abundance among the Sharks). League championships (girls and boys soccer), and the thrill of being on the sidelines as the Crusader boys varsity soccer team made it all the way to the South finals for the first time in more than a decade. Proms, Spirit Weeks, Powder Puff, Bubble Soccer, school musicals, and of course, being presented with the Ad Lucem Award (and my unforgettable reaction). The list goes on and on and on.

I've been inspired by the tenacity of every student I've met, especially the classes of 2020 and 2021, who have had to weather not only college applications, AP exams and the like, but who have also had their last years of school dramatically altered by a pandemic that stole away traditional graduation ceremonies (Wellfleet Drive-In anyone?) and the lives of precious loved ones.

I've cheered silently while watching athletes compete in games I desperately wanted them to win, and shed a few tears after the losses. I've done private happy dances upon learning about college acceptances and players getting recruited. I've marveled at First Night fireworks and at the impressive talent of student musicians with powerful voices and mad skills. I've come to appreciate deeply the insight and wisdom of so many young adults whom I'm convinced will one day change the world. Your sideline conversations have been a highlight of my career.

Now the time has come for me to embark on a new adventure, one that is taking me away from Cape Cod's shores to a place I've loved since I was a little girl. The why of my leaving is complex and deeply personal, and has much to do with losing both of my parents in the last two years. But it also has to do with those song lyrics. While I've loved being a sportswriter, it isn't my passion. Telling stories is, and with luck, love, and the gift of time, I will be pursuing that passion, be it through freelancing with magazines in Maine or writing more books, or both, and then some.

What I won't do is forget you. You, the students, teachers, coaches, and administrators. You, the librarians, business owners, hairdressers and acupuncturists. You, the aspiring filmmakers, authors, engineers, architects, and especially journalists. You, the people that make this part of the world unique and memorable. You.

Please remember that even though we've got a vaccine coming, this illness hasn't gone away. Please, for your own safety and the safety of those around you, wash your hands, stay home when you can, and wear a mask.

Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for making this reporter's final Cape Cod adventure one I'll always carry with me. I love you all.