Pathways (extra)

korman

It was a sold-out flight, but it seemed fitting that the seat to my right was empty.
I was on my way back from helping my friend and co-worker Chris Korman drive his entire life back to Reading, Pa.
As most of you already know, Korman was the Indiana University sports beat writer for three years and sports editor for the past year for the Herald-Times. He was going to his new job as assistant sports editor at the Baltimore Sun.
I worked very closely with Korman covering what so many of you love so much. The Hoosiers. Our friendship developed on the road.
On our three-hour drive to cover Eric Gordon play the Illini in Champaign, or our five-hour drive to cover the first time Tom Crean coached the Hoosiers against his former boss, Tom Izzo, at Michigan State and on our cross-country trip to cover the Insight Bowl in Arizona.
Long drives and long flights are part of the job.
The seats in the Herald-Times passenger van don’t have name tags on them, but if they did the driver’s seat would be tagged for me, the passenger seat for IU beat writer Dustin Dopirak, and the bench seat for Korman. He sought out that spot so he could prop his feet up and pull his laptop out and start working.
Korman would always joke and say, “I was the best driver he had ever driven with,” but I believe I won that job mostly because no one else wanted to do it.
This time was different. This time I was following behind Korman in a moving truck. Bouncing along I-70 and wishing the truck could go faster than 75. But still, it gave me time to reflect on Korman’s and my tenure together. It’s funny, being the older and (supposedly) wiser co-worker, I don’t really know what he might have learned from me, but I do know what I learned from him.
I learned to try new things again. After working in one place for a while it is easy to fall into a rut. A rut of status quo.
Korman challenged me last year to get out of that rut by working on a video documentary on an area high school basketball team. When he first approached me with the idea, I thought he was crazy. I’m a photographer not a video guy. But as we met and discussed the possibilities I embraced the project and gave it my best shot. I never would have done that if he hadn’t pushed the envelope and said “Why not try something new?”
In Reading we were greeted by Korman’s friends and mother, Mickey Korman, who couldn’t wait to welcome her boy back home. She was so excited that she even ran toward me and hugged me to thank me for helping him drive home. There was time for a little visiting, but all to quickly it was time to go our separate ways.
Just as the trip out was different, the trip home was too. No debating what song to play or what place to eat, and no stories of what the next work week might have in store for us.
This time, I sat on the plane looking through pictures with an empty chair next to me (which for a big guy like me wasn’t so bad).
It’s corny, and it’s been said before, but Korman will be missed. His cheerful demeanor, his aggressive and professional work ethic and his kind-heartedness will leave a hole in the newsroom.
After living in this college town for more than 12 years, it would seem by now that I have grown used to friends and co-workers moving on. But, in fact, it gets harder the older I get. Each time they leave they take a little piece of me with them.
I know that Korman will continue to work hard and push his friends and co-workers to do their best while in Baltimore, but this season’s trips to cover the Hoosiers will be quite different without him.

5 comments

  1. Great story Chris. Korman will indeed be missed. He left some BIG shoes to fill and I wish him much luck in Baltimore.

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