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Reflecting on my 11 months as a sports editor

What a ride it has been.

If you read today’s front page, you know I am moving over to copy editor at the paper, ending an 11-month term as the Selma Times-Journal’s sports editor.

On Saturday, I spent a lot of time thinking back over the events and stories I’ve covered, people I’ve gotten to know and the things I will miss the most.

For instance, shortly after I arrived, I did a story about a kid named Jalen Garner. For those that don’t remember, Garner almost drowned in a family friend’s pool last summer. Three days later, he played shortstop for his little league team.

This is a job that has afforded me the opportunity to do a number of things that have left me thinking, “I can’t believe I get paid to do this.”

Returning to my first few months here, one such case was covering the Selma High basketball team when it went to Tuscaloosa for a basketball team camp. I drove Wendell Lewis up there and gawked at Alabama’s facilities. I was on the clock when I proudly called my aunt and uncle — both huge Alabama fans — to tell them I was walking in the bowels of Coleman Coliseum.

I got to sit on press row for two nationally televised college football games — Auburn-Tennessee and Alabama-Ole Miss. I was on press row beside the R.C. Hatch radio team when the Carver-Valley fight broke out in Montgomery during the basketball playoffs. Two days later, I watched the Bobcats and Keith battle for the right to advance to Birmingham. And of course, after that, I was on the floor in Birmingham when Hatch advanced to the title game before bowing out.

I got a front row seat as Lowndes Academy made its way through the playoffs to the AISA Class AA championship game. It was a thrill to watch Art Sullivan coach his team up, particularly against No. 1 Monroe Academy in the semifinals.

That is what I will miss the most about this job — the coaches and players. Those other experiences were great, daresay once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, but nothing can compare to the relationships I built with the coaches and players I covered.

I got to watch Ronald Lane turn Wallace’s basketball program around, swap stories with Woodie Jackson and hear Woodie stories from Anthony Harris.

I went through the experience of having the entire R.C. Hatch basketball team call me sir — despite my telling them not to — because that is a quality Homer Davis instills in his players. I watched Carl Rawls lead Central Christian to the Final Four, only to come out with a heartbreaking loss, and introduce Darrel Walker as “the prolific Darrel Walker” earlier in the season.

Sorry guys, I’m going to milk that one dry.

I got to watch Keith’s steady improvement under Tommy Tisdale and Chris Burford coach up an outmanned team. I also got to watch Willie Moore knock off Selma twice, Cedric Brown get the most out of a team that was often at a height disadvantage and Wanda Tyler get the most out of her players.

These are only a few examples of the coaches and players that gave me an infinite number of stories and experiences that I will never forget. There are simply too many to include.

However, what I have listed made me realize that these are the people who made this job seem like it was not one. There were times I had to remind myself that I was covering these people, not cheering them.

It’s not a job I was always perfect at, though I hope I pleased more often than I angered. Corny as it may seem, true as it is, I loved every minute of it.