Anyone who knew me before I started working for the Rantoul Press knew how much I loved sports.

When I was growing up I was watching Sports Center while everyone else my

age was watching cartoons.

I have watched every Cowboys, Illini basketball and football, Notre Dame Football and White Sox game I could possibly watch.

I was always told that when you decide on a career, do something you love and don’t just choose it based on the money.

So with that theory in mind of course I knew it had to do with sports.

I originally settled on radio. My friend Klayton was in radio, and he had a radio show on WPCD that I was guest frequently on, and I decided I wanted to follow in his footsteps. That was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

I got a radio show as well and found a love for sports outside of just being a fan or a player. I realized there was a media aspect in which you could tell other people how you saw the game.

My friend Klayton passed away in 2016, and that lit even more a fire under me because I knew I wanted to live out a dream in sports media just like he did.

And, boy, did I ever do that. Fast  forward a little over three years and a few radio jobs later and here I am.

I am the sports editor at the only paper that frequently covers my hometown, and I’m getting paid to do what I love.

When I took this job in May I had no idea the opportunities it was going to give me.

Early on, since I was finally making money  that I could actually spend, I decided I was going to start traveling more to games.

That took me to Purdue, Iowa and Michigan State for Illini football games as well as return trips to Purdue and Iowa for Illini basketball games.

But more recently I decided, why not apply for media passes for these games and get essentially all-access to my favorite teams.

So the first game I decided  to do this for was this past week when Illinois played at Northwestern. I was granted media credentials for me and my dad, and off we went to Evanston.

As soon as I walked through those doors I realized I was living my best life.

I went to that game and had great seats about 15 rows up behind the baseline.

The only troubling thing for me was not being able to cheer like I normally do.

Luckily the game was never really in doubt and the Illini won by eight.

But one of the coolest things I experienced was going to the postgamepress conference.

I got to see Brad Underwood answer questions from the other media who were much more experienced than  I was.

When I walked out of the media room I saw announcer and sports analyst Andy Katz up close and personal.

Further down the hall way was Ayo Dosunmo, who was also being interviewed.

I personally did not ask any quaestions. I was way to nervous  so I let the people who do it on a daily basis do their job while I sat in awe. 

The entire experience was something  I will never forget.

I am so thankful for the opportunities I have been given here so far in my short time here at the Rantoul Press.

I am looking forward to living my best life with all of you readers here for what I hope to be a long time.

You can contact Ryan Birch at Rbirch@RantoulPress.com or on Twitter @RyanBirchRP