My first night at the Kennebec Journal, I was introduced to Gary Hawkins, who asked me all the important questions a Sports writer would want to know about Sports copy editor.

“What are your favorite teams?”

“Where did you go to high school?”

“Do you play basketball?”

“If you have a choice between watching the Boston Red Sox and Monday Night Raw, what do you watch?”

I’m not kidding, Hawk really did ask me that last question and I’m still not sure I gave the right answer when I said I’d prefer to watch the Red Sox.

Later that night, I was introduced to Sandra Pooler, who promised to teach me everything she knew about putting the paper together and promised to answer any questions I had, but also promised to walk away and ignore me if I wasn’t taking notes.

I couldn’t help but think, “What am I getting myself into?”

That was 16 years ago. The 23-year-old kid who walked into the old Kennebec Journal building on Western Ave. will walk out of the new Kennebec Journal building on Anthony Ave. as a 39-year-old man for the last time Saturday night.

Leaving the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel to become the Online News Editor at Runner’s World is a bittersweet experience. I’m excited about the opportunity that awaits me in Emmaus, Pa., but it is hard to leave the great state of Maine, and the great friends I’ve made during my career at this company.

I’ve been fortunate enough to cover some great teams and some great events in my time at these newspapers. I started not long before a short freshman with an upside down Nike headband led the Valley boys basketball team to the first of six straight Class D boys basketball state titles. Nick Pelotte and the Cavaliers played a style of basketball that captured the attention of the state and made everyone wonder “Where the heck is Bingham?”

The Lee St. Hilaire-led Winthrop football teams captured the state’s attention in much the same way Valley did. These kids from small-town Maine and their strong-armed quarterback put on an aerial display rarely seen in the state of Maine.

A team with a similar offensive flair captured the attention of its community at the end of my time here. Ben Lucas put up numbers much like St. Hilaire and led the Cony football team to its first state title since 1932.

I came to these papers at a great time for high school hockey. I can still hear the shout from the crowd from one fan while watching the powerhouse Waterville hockey teams begging Purple Panthers defenseman Chris Morgan to “Hit somebody, Morgan.” Those Waterville teams, which included tremendous players like Kyle McMorrow, Zach Pelletier, and all of the Hart boys, were always a threat to win the Class A state title.

Winslow, led by among others Brad White, Ben Fraser and Ryan Siviski, dominated Class B, until Ray Jean and the Gardiner hockey team came along and asserted themselves in Eastern B.

I was also lucky enough to cover a couple of the best high school runners the state has ever seen. Bethanie Brown and Matt McClintock were not only dominant high school track and field and cross country athletes, they are excelling at the highest level in college.

Speaking of dominance, the Skowhegan field hockey team won 13 Class A state titles in my 16 years here. Enough said.

There are so many great stories and so many wonderful people I’ve met during my run at these papers. I can’t thank my co-workers over the years — Gary Hawkins, Sandra Pooler, Ben Sturtevant, Joe Halpern, Joe Grant, Travis Lazarczyk, Matt DiFilippo, Bill Stewart, Sarah Wood, Rich Siracusa, Dave Dyer, Chuck Woodward, Tommy Gallagher, Rob Fucci, Jason Puccio, Jeremy Dutton, Josh Opitz, Dave Bailey, Jason Cunningham, Bob Williams, Colin Hickey — enough for all they taught me about the business and for being great friends. I will miss the people in the newsrooms and in the communities we covered. I will miss the athletes and coaches I had the opportunity to cover. I will miss all the great events I had the opportunity to witness.

Thank you everyone for a great run.

Scott Martin —621-5618smartin@centralmaine.comtwitter.com/scottamartin