That’s about all that comes to mind when I think about the whirlwind (in a good way) the last two months has been for me.
It’s about all I can say as I FINALLY write this column, more than a month after I wanted to.
My work life. My home schedule. My free time. It all changed at the beginning of February (National Signing Day, to be exact), when I was handed the sports editor position when former Sports Editor Scott Joiner and The Daily Review parted ways.
From then on, I became a workaholic (even more than I already was!) as I jumped from one sport to another.
It’s been the fulfillment of a dream of mine.
When I started out at the Review in June 2006 as an intern the summer before my junior year of college, I worked in the sports department with then-Managing Editor Ted McManus, who was filling the position until the Shirleys finally hired then-Sports Editor Jon Martin later that year.
My two-month flirtation with the sports department turned into a permanent, part-time gig throughout the remainder of college as I covered football in the fall and photographed sports in the spring.
As I got closer to graduation, though, nothing was available in sports full-time, so like any journalist, I adjusted and began to acclimate myself with news.
Since graduating college in May 2008, news has been my home, and for the most part, I have loved it — especially covering the many interesting people and multiple events that have impacted or threatened this area.
The biggest and most interesting issue was the Flood of 2011. It was a constantly evolving story that seemed to change as often as the Atchafalaya River levels.
I quickly became a hydrology “expert,” and helped explain to others how the water was flowing backwards through the area.
I even did an interview with a California radio station in which I was asked about the situation, and when I finished explaining it, a much more knowledgeable individual on the subject said that the situation was basically how I explained it. A Toronto TV station even called and asked for me by name. Unfortunately, I was out covering some aspect of the flood.
The whole experience — from my actual witnessing of water rapidly flowing backwards to my stroll across the massive barge blocking the water from flooding the backside of St. Mary Parish and other St. Mary and Lower St. Martin Parish communities — was a very rewarding one, something not possible had I worked in sports. It also was very important because, so much more then than at other times, people were relying on the information provided to make decisions.
Despite the “fun,” I wanted more, and more didn’t lie in news.
My first love always has been sports, and I feel it’s where I belong (even if sports writers are given a bad rap for some’s inability to craft strong prose).
While the job looks fairly simple on the surface when you read your paper each day, it’s really quite challenging.
First, it has been an adjustment. In news, I was working with two others each day to gather information.
Now in sports, I’m a one-man operation when I come to work daily. I work up all pertinent emails into stories. I choose the artwork that goes in that day’s paper and I design and layout each day’s sports pages. While I am not perfect, which plenty in the newsroom and surrounding rooms can attest to, I’m trying and am determined to get better.
Although I’m alone in the office, I am not alone in the field as I have longtime sports reporter Corwin Murray, and former Review photographer Michelle Blanc, helping me when needed.
Secondly, there’s the management aspect — time, communication with others, expectations. No one gives you a manual on this stuff. You just have to jump in headfirst and not let the proverbial speed bumps (there have been some minor potholes!) stop you.
Another aspect challenge is the ability to fit everything in the paper because of daily time and space constraints. I can’t tell you how many days I have planned to get something in the paper and just haven’t been able to, simply because I ran out of time.
The best advice I can give my readers is if you haven’t seen something within, let’s say two weeks after you sent it, please email or call me about it. It could have easily gotten lost in my email or on my desk.
There’s also the issue of coverage of smaller local sports. While a lot of our time is spent covering the big sports like football, volleyball, basketball, baseball and softball, that by no means is an indication that we don’t care about smaller sports, such as tennis, golf, cross country, bowling, etc.
It simply is a coverage issue: There are too many sports and not enough time to cover them all. That said, I have no problem publishing any pertinent submitted photos from these smaller events that I can’t get to and would love to have the results in my sports pages.
I want a potpourri of things, and coaches and parents can help me make that happen.
Also regarding coverage issues, it’s important for me to make something clear right now.
I was born and raised in Morgan City and graduated from Central Catholic. My local status means, for the first time in quite a while, this area will have a local product running sports.
That said, even though I have my CCHS diploma on my desk in my room and still have some CCHS shirts at the house, I owe absolutely no more allegiance to them than any other school in east St. Mary Parish.
While this hasn’t been an issue and I don’t expect it to, I just wanted to put that in stone for everyone to know. I am now Berwick’s, Morgan City’s and Patterson’s biggest fans, too.
On a similar note, I need help from Berwick, Morgan City and Patterson fans. While I know CCHS quite well, I honestly don’t know much about these other schools. But I want to. If you ever have a feature idea, please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org), call me (384-8370) or fill me in when you see me out and about. While I can’t guarantee I will follow-up on everything, I definitely will listen to each idea.
I already have some upcoming features in the works that I hope to churn out as soon as time permits.
Another important aspect about me that you should know is that while I am all about the positive, if I have to delve into the negative, I will, too. It comes with the territory, and if I have to be, I can be just as tough or even tougher than Joiner. I’m not afraid to go there if necessary, but of course, like everything else, I will use common sense before reaching that point.
Of everything I’ve mentioned thus far, I feel the most important thing I can say now and will continue to say is that I am committed to LOCAL sports, first. I try not to mimic my section’s content off anyone’s, so if you feel that you are not getting the dose of state, national or international sports that you like, all I can tell you is to go look in The Baton Rouge Advocate, The New Orleans Times Picayune or USA Today for that.
Sure, I will have my share of Associated Press copy in the paper, especially when it comes to big events like the Super Bowl, the NCAA basketball championships, the Daytona 500, etc., but unless I need to fill space at a moment’s notice or have nothing local or regionally based, the locals always will come first.
Finally, let me just say thank you to everyone who has done their best to welcome me to this new position (whether they knew I was new or not). Out of anything you may have done, the most important thing I have appreciated is the minimal complaints.
I know my pages have had their share of mistakes (some noticeable to the public and others not so much). I have done my best to publish corrections when necessary, and I am working my hardest to eliminate as many mistakes as I can.
As we do in the news department, in the sports department, I, too, welcome your feedback about a possible story idea, a mistake or even if you just feel like talking about sports.
As for this column, I hope this is the intro of many more columns, which from now on will become known as “From Press Row.” I use this space (and I can promise you they probably will be half this size in the future), to spout off about local, state or national sports.
I’m looking forward to writing it, just as I hope y’all are looking forward to reading it.