The Washington Times - March 5, 2011, 12:49PM

Thirty-seven years ago this June, I walked across the stage at Wolf Trap during James Madison High School’s graduation. My next stop was Virginia Commonwealth University, where I would earn a degree in mass communications.  As I grabbed my diploma before they changed their minds, I made a promise that I’d one day return home to practice my profession.

Finally, I can say I’m right.  I had no idea it would take so long, but I’m not going to quibble.  I’m home and I’m happy as heck.

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The Washington Times is bringing back its sports section and it has chosen not-so-little ol’ me to be the editor.   I’m thrilled, humbled, excited and, frankly, a bit nervous.  Our relaunch date is March 21 and (gulp) that’s two weeks from Monday.  We have a lot of work to do between now and then. 

It’s been a fun and hectic month as we’ve worked to put together a staff that will deliver great reading every day.  The staff is not complete but will be soon.  And those we have on board so far are hard at work putting things together for the relaunch.

We won’t be the traditional sports section I grew up reading.  We’ll take a different approach to things in print and online.  We’ll be a little more analytical, we’ll try to look in places that haven’t been looked in before.   We want our pages to be fun to read and we plan to have fun putting them together. 

Putting modesty aside for a moment, I have the background necessary to lead this charge. During a long career at newspapers in Richmond, I covered a wide variety of events around the globe.  I have been a print editor (at the Richmond Times-Dispatch) and an online editor (at CBSSports.com and FanHouse.com). 

But enough about me.  All I do is wave the wand.  The people with the instruments make the music sound great and they are the stars of this show.

Deputy editor Marc Lancaster will share this space and help conduct the sports orchestra.  Marc has an award-winning background covering pro sports and he’ll be a huge help to our staff.  The part of his job description that says he has to keep me sane will be his biggest challenge. 

I’ve long thought Dan Daly was one of the best columnists anywhere.  He’s been back on board a couple of weeks now and has reaffirmed that opinion.  Dan is the type of columnist I love.  He always has something to say and he can say it without “shouting.”  It might not play on TV, but the thought he puts into his columns is evident.

Deron Snyder will also contribute a couple of columns a week.  Deron is another strong voice who can get his point across without beating you over the head with a stick.  While he was in Fort Myers, Fla., I wanted to hire him in Richmond and the position never came available. 

With Dan and Deron, I’ll put our voices up against any pair anywhere.

Patrick Stevens and Nathan Fenno will keep an eye on area colleges for us.  Patrick is at the Maryland-Virginia game today and Nathan is in Cincinnati watching Georgetown play.  Patrick, a detail-oriented superstar, is a returnee from the previous Times staff.  Nathan comes from Seattle to join our staff.  He took some time off from daily newspapering to travel and write.  Check it out.  Patrick and Nathan will be quite a team.

Amanda Comak, Carla Peay and Stephen Whyno are on board so far to cover professional sports. 

Amanda hits town Tuesday to basically just say hello before heading to Florida to catch up with the Nationals at spring training.  She’ll be busy from the start as we have a baseball section to prepare along with our daily Nationals coverage.

Carla is already working the Wizards beat.  She knows the team very well from her previous jobs and has a long list of story ideas.  Carla will also help out with other pro teams and colleges coverage.

Stephen worked at The Times as a sports copy editor previously.  I met him during a long rain delay at Nationals Park in 2009 when Stan Kasten was furiously trying to get in a game that featured Randy Johnson going for his 300th victory.  Stephen impressed me immediately as being mature beyond his years and he’ll attack the Capitals beat with a determination to figure out and report on a team that has become one of the NHL’s bigger enigmas.

Gene Mueller’s very popular fishing report will return as a Thursday staple on our pages.  No one with weekend plans to catch a few will want to head out without reading Gene, who knows the area waters like no one else.

We’ll have more staff news soon.  I’m ecstatic with the team we’ve put together thus far and I promise you will be, too, as you read us regularly.

Check us out.  Follow us on Twitter at WashTimesSports and “like”us on Facebook at Washington Times Sports

Most important, read us every day.  You’ll be glad you did.  Let us know what you think. I can be reached at mharris@washingtontimes.com