Georgia Tech fans — at least some of you, anyway — are getting your wish.
After 11 years and a couple of months, my time as the sports editor at The Telegraph is coming to an end. It has been a blast, even during the down times, even with some Georgia Tech fans yelling from the hills that I’m a Georgia homer and even when some high school fans claimed we didn’t cover their teams enough.
Those things are typical, to be honest. But I wanted every team, state and local, to win, so we could sell more papers and get more page views, and fans like reading about winners. We’re a business, after all.
It’s bittersweet that I am leaving The Telegraph, but it’s time to move on and let someone else sit in this seat. It’s bitter because I have loved my time here and the people at this organization who work so hard to provide coverage for this area. It’s sweet to move on because I’m going to a really good opportunity (and that’s the only reason I’m leaving. I wouldn’t have left for just any job).
It’s even sweeter because my wife, Laura, my sons, Ben and Matt, and I are not moving from Macon.
I’ve never been a person who likes things to be about me. I’m not a “look at me” writer or person, and I’m certainly not that comfortable being in the spotlight or writing about myself. That’s why this column isn’t about me. It’s about you, the readers, the coaches and players I’ve worked with and the wonderful folks here at The Telegraph.
I have to say thank you to Sherrie Marshall and Rick Nolte for giving me this opportunity and trusting me enough to turn over this section to me in 2006, while Oby Brown has been a mentor during my time here, someone I could talk to when things needed to be talked out. When I left The Albany Herald to come here, I never knew the challenges or rewarding situations that I would find in my time here, and I enjoyed most of those times. I certainly have learned from all of them.
I’ve been blessed to have on my staff some of the best journalists around, with Josh Kendall, David Hale, Seth Emerson and Jason Butt holding down the Georgia coverage without needing much supervision from me. Jonathan Heeter made my life so much easier for many years with his unbelievable leadership of high school sports coverage, and he made our trips to Augusta National Golf Club for the Masters a lot of fun.
We also got terrific work out of Coley Harvey (I just knew he would end up being a big shot on ESPN), Jay Adams, Ron Seibel, Mike Lough, Brad Harrison and Sarah Meinecke, while Jeremy Timmerman always made me laugh during his time as a news writer, and that was much needed, as was the help from Jennifer Borage and Caitlyn Stroh on all things digital (They did teach an old dog new tricks). Harrison returned to us as a freelancer to help with high school and Macon Mayhem coverage, and I would not have made it without his help, along with John Kosater, Ryan Jordan, Hayes Rule, Justin Baxley and Gene Clemons, especially the past few months.
Bill Shanks’ columns have been an outstanding addition to our section, while Stan Awtrey stepped in and filled a huge hole for us with his Georgia Tech coverage during the past few years, and Bobby Pope’s columns were always enjoyable.
Enjoyable is the perfect word to describe my time working with and following the successes of our area high school coaches in all sports (There are simply too many to name), along with the Mercer coaches, especially Bobby Lamb, Bob Hoffman, Craig Gibson and Susie Gardner, and Fort Valley State’s Kevin Porter.
Mercer is headed toward something spectacular, led by President Bill Underwood and his vision for the athletics department with Jim Cole and Daniel Tate, and the Mercer coaches and staff certainly made my job a lot easier the past few years. Gibson has one of the best baseball programs around, while Hoffman has built something special with the men’s basketball program. Lamb’s football program is close to being outstanding, and a playoff berth isn’t too far into the future for the Bears.
Then there’s Gardner. If folks don’t realize just how unbelievable she is as a coach and a person, they’re just not paying attention. Gardner took over a train wreck of a program, but she has turned Mercer into a perennial winner, and the Bears are headed for probably their best-ever season starting next month (and even more importantly her players are terrific people).
All four of those coaches have been great to work with, along with their student-athletes, and it has been a true pleasure to cover those teams.
The sports scene in the area is in really good shape, and it has gotten better with the addition of Kevin Kerr’s championship focus with the Macon Mayhem, and the Macon Bacon baseball team is going to be a lot of fun starting next summer.
As I leave, I say go Bulldogs, go Yellow Jackets and go Bears, and cheer on all the local high school teams, along with the Mayhem and Bacon. I’ll still be pulling for you (no matter what some folks want to believe).