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It’s Profile season here at the paper…

It’s baseball season,” my friend MJ said as she peeked out from beneath her layers of quilts and coats.

With her trusty portable heater never far from her side, a layer of Under Armor on at all times, and a bag filled with clothes and gear for every contingency imaginable, she’s the mother of two athletic sons who has learned to mark her calendar by the seasons of her life:

Soccer season: starts out nice and warm, but ends up cold. Make sure you have the quilt and the heater by the end.

Basketball season? Well, that was indoors, not so bad.

Football season? Tailgating, of course. And raingear. And this year, sleeping bags and cold gear for the GMAC Bowl in Mobile.

But baseball season, also known as February to most folks, well that’s when the year begins.

And it’s always cold, bitter cold.

“That’s baseball season,” she warns new parents with a laugh. “You can laugh, but you’re going to want a heater. Go get one.”

She and I shivered through a double header the other night, warmed by the blankets and portable propane heaters we’d schlepped to the field. Bundled up behind home plate, we sat among dozens of other parents and grandparents, dressed in hunting gear and tobaggans, sharing their own heaters and blankets, all cheering on the Boys of Summer as they played. The irony wasn’t lost on any of us.

“It’s baseball,” MJ said with a shoulder shrug and the wisdom of a mom who knows that no matter what, we’ll weather through. It’s just what we do.

I thought about that baseball game last Sunday night, as the editorial staff was working to put together the final pages of the Profile 2010 edition that publishes in today’s Messenger.

You see February is our “baseball season,” too. Producing the Profile edition is never an easy task. Work begins in September and October, gathering stories; working with advertisers; designing ads and content.

It takes months to compile the content for the edition and, when you toss in the every day work of publishing a daily newspaper and Web site, the challenges can multiply exponentially. It’s certainly not comfortable, but then again, neither is sitting through a 36-degree baseball game.

But each year, in a bit of a miracle, our staff steps up the challenge. The veterans, folks like Deedie Carter, Sandy Boutwell, Wendy Ward, Mernette Bray and Jaine Treadwell who have weathered their share of Profile editions, take the challenges in stride. They know what to expect, how to prepare and how to pace themselves. It’s always exciting to see younger folks, like Greg Rossino, tackle the challenges of their first major project. They learn, as MJ would say, that they’re going to want that heater.

Each year, as the edition leaves our building for the printer there’s a collective sigh of exhaustion that settles in the office.

But when printed copy comes back, just days before it lands on your doorstep this morning, and we hold it in our hands, I am reminded how proud I am of the efforts our staff put forth. Holli Keaton, Nick Duke, Thomas Graning, Perry Brown, Van Gammon, Buzz Burchill, Ryan Charles and even former staff member Kendra Bolling all left their touch in Profile 2010: Perspectives. It is, like any good baseball game, a team effort.

And we hope you, our fans, will enjoy it … quilts and portable heaters are optional.

Stacy Graning is publisher of The Messenger. She can be reached via email at stacy.graning@troymessenger.com or by phone, 670-6308.