Spring is supposed to be the time of renewal but for those of us in the newspaper business (and on the sports beat) that time actually comes in late summer-early fall. That’s because schools get back in session and so do the fall sports teams. From the digs and exciting kills on the volleyball court to the headers on the soccer field and the signature raising of the helmets following a football game, it’s time to get things started.
That being said; Saturday morning, I didn’t want to get up.
The alarm clock on my cell phone rang … and then rang again, 30 minutes later. I knew I had a pile of work waiting on my desk, photos to download, coaches to call, a typical fall weekend. The sun was shining in through my window blinds but rather than greet the day, I just stuck my head under the pillow for a few more zzz’s. From the way I felt, you would think that I was the one that had played a hard-hitting football game on Friday night.
Having to dissect the reasons why I was a) tired; b) sore; and c) motivationally challenged, I came to a sad conclusion.
I am old.
OK, maybe not incredibly old by the world’s standards but when you consider I have been covering Friday night football for 20-plus years now, some of the parents of the players on this year’s rosters weren’t even married when I started here. In fact, a few might have still been in high school themselves. Ouch.
So in future weeks I will have to remember to take a mild pain reliever before hitting the sidelines and wear comfortable, yet sturdy shoes for traipsing up and down the 100 yards multiple times during the course of the evening. Using a tripod instead of having the camera hang around my neck for three-plus hours might be a good idea, too…
On the bright side, I will say that covering sports is one of the most fun parts of my job. I do a lot of editing, a lot of writing, deal with the police, fire, city, chamber officials, community groups, etc., etc. on a regular basis, all of which is interesting and helps keep the pages full but it is the sports section that is the fun outlet. Taking the camera to the football and soccer sidelines, to the basketball court, to the baseball diamond, to tennis, golf, cross country … it’s all about capturing the moment and getting caught up in the emotion and the story of the game.
I have had the chance to write sports for all three of our papers, Riverbank, Oakdale and Escalon. Granted, some teams have had more success than others among those schools over the years but what strikes me is that the passion for the game, the dedication to practice, the discipline needed to balance school and sports, that is something that resonates in all three districts. Having a daughter who played high school soccer for two years and also still competes on a travel team, I know how hard it can be to juggle it all. It’s a testament to our schools that they can field so many teams and give so many students the chance to be athletes as well. Sports Boosters Clubs help tremendously, raising funds to support all the sports, and many teams also do their own fundraising activities. Then there’s band, drama, academic decathlon, FFA, so many opportunities for kids to get involved in positive things as part of their high school experience. Personally, I did band (percussion section – yes, I play the drums), chorus, school newspaper, French Club, Drama Club, sports, yearbook … guess that was good training for the wide variety of events that now I get to cover.
And part of my own ‘circle of life’ experience.
Gotta love fall. Bring it on.
Marg Jackson is editor of The Escalon Times, The Oakdale Leader and The Riverbank News. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.