The year was 1978 and on a warm day in late June, I entered the world at the base of the Flatirons in beautiful Boulder, Colorado.
Because I am a native of Colorado (yes, I used to have the sticker on my car) I instantly was granted membership into the fandom of any and all Colorado sports teams. Throughout the years, I've even been known to embellish the circumstances surrounding my birth to tell the tale that the first thing I remember seeing was glorious Folsom Field, home of the Colorado Buffaloes. Not true. Sue me.
My parents both grew up in Kansas, my mom attended Lawrence High and my dad is a Shawnee Mission South graduate. Because of that I moved to Lawrence when I was 10, a few months after Danny and the Miracles made their run to the title (sweet timing, right) and have been here ever since.
I continue to call Colorado home and have made many attempts at returning there after moving to Lawrence. I intended to return for high school.... didn't happen. I was certain that I would attend Colorado State University for college.... that didn't happen either, mostly because of the reputation of KU's Journalism School and my in-state status. After that, though, I was sure I would move back to Colorado for my first job. As you surely know by now, that didn't happen either. I used to wonder why I never made it back there, but then it hit me: Lawrence must be a pretty great place and I must like it here. Both are true.
During my time in Lawrence, I attended Pinckney Elementary School for two years, West Junior High for three and graduated from Lawrence High in 1996. After that I attended the University of Kansas and graduated in 2000 with a degree in Journalism.
During my college days, I covered the KU baseball and basketball teams for the University Daily Kansan. While I enjoyed covering baseball and learned a lot while doing it, basketball was the beat everybody wanted and I still remember my first hoops story for the UDK: Michael Jordan retires. There was something pretty cool about seeing my byline next to Jordan's picture. Other highlights from my time at the UDK include my work following the death of Wilt Chamberlain and a fun series that my former roommate (Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star) and I did on the top 10 KU athletes of the century around the Y2K craze. The KU athletic department voted on the 10 athletes and Sam and I split up the names and did five feature stories apiece. Mine: Wilt, Ray Evans, Al Oerter, Jim Ryun and Ralph Miller. What a great time.
In addition to working for the UDK, I was the publisher of a KU sports web site run by Rivals.com — JayhawkTalk.com (now Jayhawk Slant) — which I continued to operate for a little more than a year after graduation.
I joined the World Company in June of 2001, when I was hired to become the sports editor of the Bonner Springs Chieftain and Basehor Sentinel weekly newspapers. In 2004, my position grew to include becoming the sports editor of the Shawnee Dispatch, another weekly, which I helped start from the ground up. In July of 2007 I got the call to the big leagues when I was named High School Sports Editor at the Journal-World.
It was an awesome feeling covering high school sports in the town I grew up in. Many of the coaches who were around when I was a student at LHS still are there today and it has been an absolute blast reconnecting with them.
In February of 2010, my job changed again when I was promoted into the role of KU football beat writer. After helping out with our football coverage during Mark Mangino's final couple of seasons, I covered the entire Turner Gill and Charlie Weis eras, the front end of the David Beaty era and lived to tell about it.
I never played football — unless you count games in the snow or flag football with friends — but made it my daily goal to dig as deep as I could into the KU program to help explain how and why things happen while also analyzing the players, coaches and trends surrounding the Kansas football team in a basketball-crazed town.
In October of 2013, I was promoted to KUsports.com Editor and began working more closely with all aspects of our coverage of KU athletics while also managing writers, working with web developers, overseeing and making decisions about our coverage and online initiatives, trouble-shooting and interacting even more with our readers.
During the summer of 2016, the Journal-World and KUsports.com were sold by the World Company to Ogden Newspapers and as a part of that transition I became the KU basketball beat writer while also retaining my title as KUsports.com Editor.
In December of 2018, I was promoted to Sports Editor of the Journal-World and replaced my longtime boss and friend, Tom Keegan, who left to become a columnist for the Boston Herald, closer to his hometown of Rochester, New York. Yet another new role brought with it exciting opportunities and challenges and fulfilled a destiny of sorts.
Back when I was in 8th grade at West Junior High, one of my teachers gave an assignment that asked us to write a paper about someone who had a job that we might someday want to do. I chose former Journal-World Sports Editor Chuck Woodling, Keegan's predecessor, and here I am today.
In my spare time, in addition to laughing and loving life with my wife, Allison, and stepdaughter, Kate, I enjoy traveling, hanging out at any beach or pool, playing basketball, golf, tennis, yard games, guitar and fantasy sports and cheering for any and all Colorado sports teams.
When Kansas senior Udoka Azubuike first received the text message on Sunday afternoon, he thought it was a joke. By Matt Tait
With his older brother, Chima Azuonwu, in the crowd, watching him play basketball for the first time in 10 years, Kansas senior Udoka Azubuike joined KU’s 1,000-point club during a 83-58 victory over Oklahoma State on ESPN’s Big Monday. By Matt Tait
Fresh off a 3-point win in Waco, Texas, on Saturday over then-No. 1 Baylor, the Kansas Jayhawks on Monday morning moved into the No. 1 spot in the Associated Press Top 25 poll. Then they went out and proved they belonged there with a 83-58 home victory over Oklahoma State at Allen Fieldhouse.
A look at some of the keys for top-ranked Kansas in tonight's Big Monday battle with Oklahoma State at Allen Fieldhouse. By Matt Tait
Waco, Texas — In the Ferrell Center hallway, shortly after third-ranked Kansas’ 64-61 victory over No. 1 Baylor, BU Athletic Director Mack Rhoades stopped Kansas coach Bill Self to deliver a quick message.
Behind Azubuike’s 23 points and 19 rebounds in 36 minutes that dominated Saturday’s game, third-ranked Kansas knocked off No. 1 Baylor, 64-61, in what Kansas coach Bill Self called the best atmosphere the Jayhawks have played in this season.
A look at some of the keys for third-ranked Kansas in Saturday's Big 12 showdown with No. 1 Baylor in Waco, Texas. By Matt Tait
Kansas basketball coach Bill Self has a checklist of things he’d like to see in Saturday’s matchup with No. 1 Baylor that are different from the 67-55 loss his team suffered at Allen Fieldhouse in mid-January. By Matt Tait
Roughly 30 minutes after Monday’s 91-71 victory over Iowa State had gone final, Kansas point guard Devon Dotson was asked his first question of the week about third-ranked KU’s looming matchup with No. 1 Baylor this weekend. By Matt Tait
With its defense giving up more than 70 points for just the third time all season, the third-ranked Kansas Jayhawks were happy to see their offense was there to pick them up in a 91-71 win over Iowa State on Monday at Allen Fieldhouse. By Matt Tait