Thursday, September 26, 2013
Staying on the sideline
I almost gave in to the dryness of the press box.
But I just couldn’t. It’s just not my style.
As the steady and sometimes heavy rains moved in Friday, we were down to a pair of football games – Marshall Academy at West Memphis Christian and H.W. Byers at Independence.
Originally, I’d planned to be on the sideline for the county rivalry Friday night– Potts Camp versus Holly Springs. It was pushed to Monday evening.
I had MA covered through stat man Tommy Ray and photographer Rhonda Mahan. They, along with many others, have provided outstanding assistance for myself and sports editor Claude Vinson all season long. The newspaper staff is small, but by involving others, it becomes a true team effort.
As the afternoon progressed Friday, I stayed in constant “texting” contact with head coach Chris Daniels of the Lions.
“Game on?,” I’d ask.
“Yes!,” he’d reply.
“Keep me posted”
A little after 5 p.m. his message was, “On the bus, going that way.”
That’s when I went home and got my gear – boots, rain coat, umbrella, cap and plastic bag to cover my camera.
It was raining cats and dogs when I left Holly Springs. About halfway to Independence it slacked a little bit. It was a tough, slow drive.
When I got to the field at the Tate County school, I talked to Pam and said, “It’s raining but it’s not too bad.”
As the game kicked off, I decided to go ahead and try to get some photos.
It was a tough task, even for a seasoned veteran. The rain was steady; the lens was fogging up. I did the best I could.
But it got worse – raining harder and harder. I was soaked, from head to toe.
By the second quarter it was really coming a downpour and it kept coming. It rained the hardest in the second half.
By then, I’d lost my cell phone to water – guess I should have left it in the car.
I finally gave up on the photos, not wanting to ruin a good camera, too, and took a few notes while sitting on the bench behind the players. I was actually holding the umbrella up by bracing it between my knees, trying to keep my notepad dry.
I decided a long time ago to just brave the elements, because this reporter’s spot was on the sideline.
That’s where the story is – not in the press box.
If the players and coaches and fans are dealing with the mud and the rain, why shouldn’t I?
I will admit. I gave in to the press box once. I was covering Itawamba Community College football for The Itawamba County Times. They were playing Mississippi Delta at Moorhead. It was the worst thunderstorms I’d ever experienced for a football game. I really had no other choice.
I covered my first high school football game for a newspaper while I was in high school. That was about 35 years ago.
I wish I’d kept up with how many times I’ve been on the sidelines with camera, notepad and pen in hands.
It goes with the job. But the truth is, there’s no place I’d rather be on a Friday night – or as the case this week, Monday night, too.
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