A sports reporter’s farewell to Chambers County

Published 10:30 am Saturday, April 1, 2023

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I may have only lived in Chambers County for 10 months, but I’ve made so many memories that it feels like several years.

I will be leaving The Valley Times-News and returning to the University of South Carolina.

When I moved here, I wasn’t sure what to expect or how I’d be received.

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Everyone I met, from players to parents to coaches welcomed me with open arms and immediately made me feel at home.

It was challenging meeting coaches and players from seven different schools, but I made a lot of great connections and memories with each of them.

I was thrown into football season in Chambers County in my first post-graduate job, and it was stressful but fun.

The first game I covered was Chambers Academy against Lee-Scott.

I was blown away by the result, but I still enjoyed going through the ups and downs with the Chambers Academy family.

I didn’t enjoy working until one in the morning, but I grew accustomed to the hectic schedule.

I won’t forget the postseason as well, with Chambers Academy earning their revenge over Escambia but losing a battle to Clark Prep in the semifinals.

Springwood, who I was told was a program filled with instability, ended up surprising me by making it to the state championship.

I traveled to Montgomery to cover that game, and it was the most emotion I’ve ever seen in a high school football game.

I’ll never forget the emotion of head coach Joey Burch along with Cayden Cook and Trestin Garrett in the postgame press conference. It was something that made me truly appreciate my job.

When basketball season came around, I was told that Lanett, LaFayette and Valley would be the three teams to look out for.

I had no clue what I was in for when I saw the Rams beat LaFayette all the way back in November.

Basketball season was arguably more stressful than football season, but joining each school along their season journey was full of emotions, especially in the regional rounds.

All three Lanett-LaFayette games were packed with fans, and each game had a little extra meaning to it.

I’ll never forget when Elijah Whitifeld hit a shot from half court to send the game into double overtime, and every single fan stormed the court.

Although Lanett and LaFayette fell Jacksonville, I got to follow Valley through to their perfect season.

I put 1,388 miles on my car in just over two weeks, but it was all worth it to see the Rams create history with their first ever state championship.

The day they won may have been the longest day of my life, but just seeing the joy from head coach Marshon Harper, the players and the fans made that feel like I was a part of the team.

Even getting back to town and watching all of Valley flock to the school for a celebration was something I’d never experienced despite growing up in a small town myself.

Covering Point University athletics has been a pleasure as well.

I got to see a new era for the football program as well as a conference championship for the women’s basketball team.

I even enjoyed covering recreational sports, which I never thought I would.

It was a relaxing way to spend my evenings and just chat with people around the community.

I didn’t get to finish baseball, softball and soccer season, but I enjoyed standing in the dugout with teams and shooting photos.

Being in a small community like Chambers County really made me appreciate the little things, like seeing coaches or players whenever I eat in a restaurant or just talking about life outside of a professional setting.

I also got a little reporting experience outside of sports, with two tornado events affecting the surrounding areas.

I did want to be a weather man when I was little, but the biggest part of it was hearing people’s stories and sharing them.

It definitely took some getting used to when I moved here from South Carolina, but everyone treated me like I was family.

To all the coaches, thank you for welcoming me to your teams and being available, even late at night. I’ll make sure to keep up with each of your teams and cheer you on from afar.

To all the players, I enjoyed covering all of you, and I know that you will all land in the right places no matter what happens.

To all the fans, thank you for coming out and supporting your teams while also welcoming me to your fan base.

I hate that I couldn’t stay here to see all these programs and people grow, but I’m moving onto a different career path.

I want to thank The Valley Times-News for giving me an opportunity in my first job out of college.

Although this is goodbye, I will come back to Chambers County and visit whenever I can.

As I leave, I want to say go Rebels, Rams, Wildcats, Panthers, Skyhawks, Bobcats and Bulldogs!