Statesboro, the time has come to say goodbye. But instead, I’m not going to.
I won’t get all sappy and teary-eyed reliving night after night of memorable moments in and around Bulloch County.
Instead, I’ll use this last column as a thank you of sorts, a tribute to those here in the Boro who helped make a scrawny kid out of college into the big sports writer you read today (Snooky’s had something to do with that, too).
When I started at the Herald as an intern in 2004, I had no idea the kind of ride I had strapped myself into for the next five years.
Over that time I watched hundreds of wins and losses, seen thousands of athletes come and ago, questioned coach after coach after coach and walked away with countless of stories to tell.
I’ve spent the last few weeks going through the best games, best athletes, best interviews and best stories I got to be a part of during my time in Bulloch County.
Flashes of delirious fans rushing the field at Paulson Stadium with the scoreboard reading 13-10; flashes of a stunned crowd watching two kids, just kids, miss free throw after free throw in a playoff game in a packed gym; meeting a young man who had the whole world at his fingertips, yet could use his, and only his, two hands to grasp it with; flashes of practice behind Womack Field and watching a coach throw interceptions to his defense; flashes of a legend breakdown film and then seeing the gameplan come to life on Saturday night.
Flashes of Saturdays at Paulson Stadium. Sitting in the press box hours before kickoff, munching on barbecue, watching the fields fill up, watching the stream of people fill a small stadium and then watching that stadium turn into something bigger than itself. Flashes of Hanner Fieldhouse, J.I. Clements and Beautiful Eagle Creek.
And then I think of the people. There are too many to name here, but few who cannot go without recognition: Rahn Hutcheson at Bulloch Academy; Steve Pennington and Lee Hill at Statesboro; John Page at Southeast Bulloch; Burton Kemp at Screven County and Laura Aziz at Claxton. They deserve — at minimum — 100 ‘thank yous’ per day.
I’m not sure what the future holds for me in my new locale, at my new publication — with a new community of sports fans. What I do know, is that if they are half as good to me as Statesboro has been — I have nothing to worry about.
Thanks Statesboro. I’ll see yah later.
Chad Bishop will be the new Prep Sports Editor at the Bowling Green Daily News in Bowling Green, Ky. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.