Column: A whirlwind first week, and memories for a lifetime

Published 8:52 pm Monday, May 22, 2023

By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

When I first told Alec that I wanted to start at the Shelby County Reporter on May 7, he warned me it would be the busiest stretch of the year.

I’m pretty sure even he didn’t know just how crazy it would be.

In my first 10 days as Sports Editor, I racked up nearly a thousand miles of travel going to Huntsville twice for the soccer Final Four, Vincent twice to watch them in the baseball state semifinals (and then Jacksonville State twice to watch them in the state championship) and Greystone twice for the Regions Tradition.

And that’s not counting all of the stories I wrote during the day covering softball regionals and soccer All-Metro teams.

I battled dehydration at the Regions Tradition Pro-Am and then three straight days of rain delays, first at the Tradition, then for both days of Vincent’s championship series.

So, why on earth would I get in my car at 12:30 on Tuesday morning smiling and feeling grateful?

Because this is exactly where I’m supposed to be.

You’ve likely seen my name pop up in by-lines or spotted me at football games for the last three seasons. During that time as a freelance writer while I studied at Samford, I grew to love the Shelby County area. The passionate communities reminded me of why I first loved high school sports in Charlotte where I grew up.

Incredible plays and phenomenal games were always in store, and everyone that I met from coaches to staff to fans was more than welcoming to a 20-year old kid from a small school in North Carolina who was probably in over his head, couldn’t believe high school crowds could be that big and didn’t know Chelsea from Calera.

Over the last two weeks, it’s been that same passion and friendliness from meeting everyone at games and online that have made my job more enjoyable.

This past week, I’ve interviewed Charles Barkley, Kirby Smart and Steve Stricker, experienced the loudest baseball stadium of my life with Vincent and covered my first state title with Westminster at Oak Mountain girls soccer.

It may be the busiest stretch of the year, but it’s also by far the most fun. I’ve always been drawn to the deeper, more human stories in sports, and I’ve had more than my share of those so far.

From Vincent’s unbelievable run to their first baseball title game since I was a year and a half old, to all of the passionate fanbases who made the trip to Huntsville for the soccer Final Four, to a caddie’s first win on the PGA Tour Champions, every story has given me amazing memories that I’ll cherish long after the final whistle.

Have I made mistakes so far? Absolutely. Do I still have a lot to learn? Definitely. Have I worked one too many late nights? Probably.

But one thing’s for sure: I’m beyond thrilled for what’s next, and I can’t wait to take you along for the ride.