A sportswriter’s farewell to Chambers County – Reuters
A sportswriter’s farewell to Chambers County
Posted at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 1, 2023
I may only have lived in Chambers County for 10 months, but I have created so many memories that it feels like several years.
I will leave The Valley Times-News and return to the University of South Carolina.
When I moved here, I wasn’t sure what to expect or how I was going to be received.
Everyone I met, from players to parents to coaches, welcomed me with open arms and immediately made me feel at home.
It was difficult to meet coaches and players from seven different schools, but I made many connections and memories with each of them.
I was thrown into Chambers County football season on my first post-college job, and it was stressful but fun.
The first game I covered was Chambers Academy vs. Lee-Scott.
I was blown away by the outcome, but still enjoyed going through the ups and downs with the Chambers Academy family.
I didn’t like working until one in the morning, but I got used to the busy schedule.
I won’t forget the playoffs either, with Chambers Academy getting revenge on Escambia but losing a battle to Clark Prep in the semi-finals.
Springwood, which I was told was a program filled with instability, ended up surprising me by qualifying for the state championship.
I traveled to Montgomery to cover that game, and it was the most emotional I had ever seen in a high school football game.
I will never forget the emotion of head coach Joey Burch with Cayden Cook and Trestin Garrett during the post-game press conference. It’s something that made me really enjoy my job.
At the start of the basketball season, I was told that Lanett, LaFayette and Valley would be the three teams to watch.
I had no idea what to expect when I watched the Rams beat LaFayette all the way back in November.
Basketball season was arguably more stressful than football season, but joining each school on their seasonal journey was emotional, especially during regional rounds.
All three Lanett-LaFayette games were filled with fans, and each game had a little extra meaning.
I will never forget when Elijah Whitifeld hit a shot from half the pitch to send the game into double overtime, and every fan stormed the pitch.
Although Lanett and LaFayette fell in Jacksonville, I was able to follow Valley to their perfect season.
I put 1,388 miles on my car in just over two weeks, but it was worth watching the Rams make history with their first-ever state championship.
The day they won might have been the longest day of my life, but just seeing head coach Marshon Harper’s joy, players and fans made me feel like be part of the team.
Even coming back to town and seeing the whole valley flocking to school for a party was something I had never experienced despite growing up in a small town myself.
Covering Point University athletics has also been a pleasure.
I could see a new era for the football program as well as a conference championship for the women’s basketball team.
I even enjoyed covering recreational sports, which I never thought I would.
It was a relaxing way to spend my evenings and just chatting with people in the community.
I couldn’t finish the baseball, softball and soccer season, but enjoyed standing in the dugout with teams and taking pictures.
Being in a small community like Chambers County made me really appreciate the little things, like seeing coaches or players every time I eat at a restaurant or just talking about life outside of a professional setting.
I also gained a bit of reporting experience outside of sports, with two tornado events affecting surrounding areas.
I wanted to be a meteorologist when I was little, but the most important thing was to hear people’s stories and share them.
It definitely took some getting used to when I moved here from SC, but everyone treated me like I was family.
To all the coaches, thank you for welcoming me to your teams and for being available, even late at night. I will make sure to follow each of your teams and encourage you from afar.
To all the players, I’ve enjoyed covering you all, and I know you’ll all land in the right place no matter what.
To all the fans, thank you for coming out and supporting your teams while welcoming me into your fan base.
I hate that I can’t stay here to see all these programs and people grow, but I’m moving towards a different career path.
I want to thank The Valley Times-News for giving me an opportunity in my first job after college.
Although this is a goodbye, I will return to Chambers County and visit whenever I can.
By leaving I mean go Rebels, Rams, Wildcats, Panthers, Skyhawks, Bobcats and Bulldogs!