Text from the closing address of outgoing APSE president Tim Stephens, delivered June 28, 2014, at the awards banquet to conclude the APSE Summer Conference in Arlington, Va.:

Good evening everyone, and welcome again to the 2014 APSE Convention here at the Crystal Gateway Marriott.  What better place than our nation's capital for a summer conference to cap off my three years as an officer in APSE.

I think it’s been a super conference, thanks to our sponsors, vendors, member participants, students and visitors.  I hope you agree that APSE 2014 has been time well spent for both formal professional development in the sessions and the equally invaluable networking and peer/colleague interaction that keeps us connected going forward into another year.  My sincere thanks are in order for the influence and support of those with whom I have served as an officer: Michael Anastasi, Gerry Ahern, Ben Brigandi, Mike Sherman, Mary Byrne and Tommy Deas.  In addition, I owe a debt of gratitude to all the region chairs and vice chairs, committee chairs, and others I have collaborated with in the past few years.  Leadership is really just another word for service, and those stepping up to serve behind me are: Mike Sherman, your new APSE President, from The Oklahoman; First Vice President Mary Byrne from USA Today SPORTS; Second Vice President Tommy Deas of the Tuscaloosa News and John Bednarowski, your third vice president, of the Marietta Daily Journal.

In my year to take the reins as president of  APSE, I identified five key areas for APSE members turn their attentions to in an effort to make forward strides. I stand here tonight satisfied to say that I believe we have made progress in these areas.

With Student Outreach and Mentoring, we created a process to establish student chapters and this week launched our first chapters at Maryland, Ohio University and Virginia Tech. It is my sincere hope and belief that we will have as many as 20 chapters established by this time a year from now. This ensures a train-behind structure for the pay-forward we each owe back to the profession.

Membership growth, also a priority, dovetails with the student outreach but also involved thinking outside-the-box in accepting unconventional members: websites big and small — Missouri Sports Redux, 247Sports.com, and Bleacher Report, for example.  We have opened our doors to writers, educators and students as well.

Fundraising was on my list, and we got creative with that outreach as well, as is evidenced by exhibitor sponsorships from newcomers like SportsManias and new sponsor Signs of Excellence, LLC.  I started conversations with grant-writers who can help us reach out to resource funding that will enhance our trainings and student outreach toward diversity in the field. In one of the sessions where I was honored to serve on the panel, a terrific discussion opened up around our current methods of seeking diverse talent as well as new out-of-the-box ways to look for needed, missing skill sets rather than specifically requiring a strong sports background.  We also had participants mention the need to get collaborative involvement, at least at Job Fairs, of the conventions of other organizations such as NABJ, AWSM, sports journalism conventions of LGBT communities and also remembering that diversity may include Deaf or blind candidates, those who are mobility challenged and people who are differently abled based on variations in age group, demographic and cultural backgrounds. We got out of the box in our discussion and I am hopeful that will springboard us to do the same in our ongoing deliberate mindset toward a workforce that reflects those who love sports – which is most everyone.

Enhancements to the website and revisions and updates in the annual contest are underway, and I am confident that the able leadership of my colleague and good friend Mike Sherman will well serve continued efforts in those areas.

Membership growth, fundraising, website enhancement and contest updates provide a great foundational underpinning for the student outreach and mentorship, which is my true love. I have networked here with AP and other key colleagues in brainstorming additional ideas that will help us provide hands-on learning opportunities to develop work-ready, job savvy students in an exciting, replicable way, so stay tuned for more on that from my role as chairman of the new Student Liaison Committee. I am confident big things are ahead in ways that benefit our organization and sports journalism in the years to come, and that these efforts will bear the fruit of a new generation of sports writers, editors and leaders who will enter the workforce with an understanding of the value of APSE.

With my year having sped past, I can’t say appropriately how grateful I am to join the ranks of the many esteemed colleagues who served as president before me in APSE and what an honor it is to be in the ranks of the terrific folks at this conference and in this room.  I was deeply moved by the better-late-than-never naming of the late Wendell Smith as this year’s Red Smith Award winner and delighted to get such a compelling backstory and timeline from Mr. Lester’s remarks.  John McCain highlighted our Keynote Luncheon with sports-salient remarks and a superb sense of humor, well worth a few minutes off the grid in spite of its inadvertent conflict with the USA-Germany soccer game. Thank Ghana, Team USA is still in the World Cup for now.

I am pleased to have participated in the Craig Stanke Memorial 5K and gave it my best in 3-on-3 only to discover I’m so not 20 anymore but it was great fun with super people. APSE Summer Conference 2014 has been an apt culmination of my year as president and the memories will be part of my happiest for as long as I live.

The most notable thing about APSE is the caliber of people who are here: Top-rate journalists who attend their own personal development as well as the oversight of our industry’s standards and professionalism. APSE, above all else, is about the people and the relationships. So many of you have inspired me in ways big and small. I have to thank Todd M. Adams, Nick Mathews, Mike Harris, Don Shelton, Gene Warnick, Paul Skrbina, Bill Speros, Kent Babb and so many others that I could not possibly list in the time I have here tonight. I appreciate the help from past presidents such as Glen Crevier, Jerry Micco, Lynn Hoppes, John Cherwa, Garry Howard and Bill Eichenberger. I also must thank two sports editors who are no longer with us who influenced me and many others in this room: the late, great Van McKenzie and the late, great Craig Stanke. I am thankful for the support of my employers who allowed me to participate and also contributed to the APSE cause: the Orlando Sentinel, the South Florida Sun Sentinel and now Mark Swanson and the outstanding leaders at CBSSports.com.

Lastly, I want to thank my daughter Mia – today is her 12th birthday – and friends and family who made sacrifices so that I could further my career and serve APSE. And of course my partner Debbie, who both helped sponsor this event and made sure I didn’t embarrass myself in this speech or show up at this podium with a stain on my tie. If you have met Debbie here, you know darn well that this is both true, and that she’s most definitely the better half of this arrangement, and that you'll want her around long after I have stepped aside.

I want to close by telling you about a friendly, do-it-all detail guy “behind the scenes” without whom these conferences we all look forward to and gain so much from simply would not happen.  Jack Berninger (and indeed his better half Colleen) work tirelessly well before, during and after to ensure that the rest of us have a seemless and valuable time at our conferences. Mr. APSE himself, Jack has a quiet way but a quick smile and every detail taken care of.  Phil Kaplan of the Knoxville News-Sentinel initiated an idea that got immediate unanimous consensus from the officers in that we need and want to honor Jack Berninger for his years of tireless and dedicated service.  We have decided to name one of the APSE Student Scholarships the Jack Berninger Student Scholarship. Please join me now in a round of applause for Jack Berninger. 

It has been an honor to serve you as APSE president. Thank you.