Tuesday, Sept. 29, marked my 40th year on earth. That date also marked my seventh year as your Southern Sentinel sports writer. It’s been a great journey to this point.
I still remember my first day on the job. It was a Monday. I was hired the previous Friday. My first desk was close to the door. Maybe they wanted me to be near an exit in case I decided the newspaper business wasn’t for me. Maybe my boss, Tim Watson, didn’t want me to have to walk that far if he decided to show me the door.
Either way, I’ve stuck with the job and the management decided to keep me around. I’ve moved around the office from desk to desk much like I’ve moved around the county from town to town covering all sports the best I could.
I’ve seen some great games and met some great kids, players, coaches and people over these seven years. I appreciate every one of you. This gig gets stressful at times, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
As I write this on my birthday/anniversary, I thought back to some of my most memorable moments.
The best raw athlete I ever saw was Walnut’s Shaquille Perry. I’ll never forget the first time he walked up on me in full gear. He was just a man among boys on the football field.
The best pure athlete is from Falkner. His name is Will Robertson. He won the Division 1-1A Player of the Year Award in basketball, baseball and football—all in the same year. Robertson was also the Daily Journal Baseball Player of the Year after leading Falkner to the 1A state title series. I only wish Falkner had soccer. I think Robertson would have had a shoe game like David Beckham.
Watching Coach Katie Bates dominate with Ripley Class 3A girls basketball and win it all in 2011 was the proudest I’ve ever been of a team. Watching the 2008 Ripley Tigers lose to Aberdeen in the high school football playoffs after squandering a 21-point halftime lead was the saddest I’ve ever been for a team.
But that game started me on my path to becoming an objective writer, thus a better writer. In this business you can’t live and die by your favorites. You can’t have a dog in the race when you are covering an alma mater.
I can’t decide on a best game. I’ve seen a lot of them.
Watching Robertson dominate Pine Grove at Pine Grove in the 2011 baseball playoffs with like 18 strikeouts was something to see. The place was packed and Robertson was dealing.
Watching the Lady Tigers bounce back from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to Southeast Lauderdale and win in the 2011 Class 3A state semifinals was a good one. It started with an India Howard steal and layup. The rest is history.
Best moment. Armani Linton’s kick return to win the 2013 Joe Bowl at Falkner. You could literally see the change in emotions from one fan base to the next.
Falkner coach Cory Armstrong decided to kick it deep with less than 12 seconds to play. Big mistake. After the game, he said, “Ked, why didn’t you tell me to just squid kick?”
One of the best postgame quotes ever.