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The Sports View

Sun Advocate

It's hard to know when you have actually become a "native" of a place you have moved.

I grew up in the middle of the Salt Lake Valley; Murray to be exact. Of the 36 years I lived somewhere along the Wasatch Front I spent 25 of them residing directly in Murray City. I made residential attempts at living in places like West Jordan, Ogden, Salt Lake and Riverton, but it seemed I was always destined to return to my home town.

That was until I decided to take a job as a magazine editor in Orange County, Calif. in 1987. When I went there I thought I would only come back to Utah in general, and Murray in particular, on vacations and during the big winter holidays. I saw myself being sunned on the beach with warm breezes blowing through my hair.

Instead I got a very boring job and lived in a little condo that cost me more than twice my beautiful cape cod in Sandy had, and I could never get away from people. I hated it.

I came back; first to the St. George area for awhile, where I found Californians moving in trying to create another Palm Springs and then to cold and dreary Ogden, where I lived in one of the worst parts of town for a few months.

I finally fled south, back to Salt Lake where we lived in Holladay; only a stones throw from most of the places I was working with and close to the old Murray homestead.

Then in 1991 I came to Carbon County. Carbon had been a place I had treated like most Wasatch Fronters do. I'd often driven through it on my way to Moab. I had often remarked how much I liked it here, but I never considered moving here because I thought it would be impossible to get a job and survive.

Then one day the perfect job in Price was in the paper. But when they told me the salary, I realized it wasn't the perfect job and turned it down. It was a third of what I had been making in Salt Lake.

But my wife reminded me of how much I had always liked it here and talked me into reconsidering.

That only took about five minutes and ten minutes after that I was making plans to move.

Now that I have been here 10 years, worked for three different organizations, run my own business, I sometimes feel like I now deserve "native" status.

I know in some peoples eyes I never will be, but in my eyes I am for one major reason.

This summer when Murray's American Legion baseball team came to play Helper, I was excited to cover it because I thought that I might see someone from the gang; after all, Murray, being a fairly independent town with it's own little school district in the middle of all those giants, has retained many of it's native sons and daughters over the years.

When I got to the game I took my place behind the visitors backstop and along the sidelines. On that field that is the best place to take photographs. I have taken a few from the home dugout, but they just don't work as well.

Anyway, when I looked the team over, I realized that the kids on that team came from such a different place from where I came it was just like watching Viewmont or Cedar City play Helper. Even the Murray coach was in his early 20's; no token old guy like me.

The crowd had a few Murray supporters, but none of whom I knew. Later, when I looked at the box scores I realized that a son of one of my best friends in high school had played in the game; but I wouldn't have known him from anyone else anyway.

I also was surprised that I had no mixed feelings when the Helper kids whipped the Spartans that day. I knew these kids and their coaches and some of their parents.

The old Murray hold was no longer there.

That is why I was so sad when Murray beat the Helper team last week. I was unhappy; I had followed these kids all summer; many of them becoming very familiar to me as they played at Carbon and East Carbon High in the last year.

That is when I realized that I am truly a native. I am no longer a Spartan or as they were known before the mid-1950's a Smelterite, named after the lead smelter that existed near the high school on State Street for so many years. My blood no longer runs orange and black but blue and white.

Oh, I'll still get a twinge of pride when Murray beats Highland, Skyline or East, hated rivals in the days I spent at Murray High, regardless of the sport.

But just let them play a school from eastern Utah, and I know where my loyalties lie these days.

I like it here. I like the people here and the way sports are played here. I like the coaches I work with and the respect the kids on the teams seem to have for people.

I like the Carbon culture.

If that doesn't make me at least a semi-native, I guess I never will be one.

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