Santana Wood

Managing Editor Santana Wood

Could it be?

Ah, yes; sweet, sweet football season is here.

We’ve wondered for months if football would actually happen and, Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise, one day after this section publishes, our first area team will hit the field. 

The coronavirus pandemic has certainly taken a lot from us but dang it, you can’t take football from Southerners. It’s about like butter on a roll — you just simply can’t do without it. Well, you can, but it’s dry and doesn’t taste all that good. Without football, the fall season is just boring and doesn’t feel all that special. 

Football means a few things to me, and none of the reasons has much to do with the actual ballgame. 

I’m not your typical football fan. I admit it; I’m that basic girl who hardly understands what’s happening on the field.

But I do love football because of what it brings to my life.

It’s always translated to family time to me. I think about watching my dad fuss at the television while Mama and I sit and talk about everything but the game. I picture growing up eating Mama’s home-cooked supper in the living room and, most of all, good memories.

Since I started dating Ryne a few years ago, I’ve spent even more time in front of a TV watching a football game and making memories. 

Bless his heart. He jumps, cries, screams, and goes through every emotion possible while watching a Philadelphia Eagles game. Before, I’d never understood how one could be so invested in football; it’s just a game, after all. But after working at TPI for three and a half years now, it’s something I can appreciate and understand.

When I started working at TPI in 2017, football gained a whole new meaning.

I had no idea when I was hired I’d be working Friday nights during football season until 2 a.m. but boy when August 2017 came around was I in for an awakening.

Similar to this football preview section, our team puts together a 16- to 24-page section every Friday night called Sports Extra. It’s the biggest high school football edition in Alabama and we produce every bit of it right here at TPI. 

There’s a lot of work behind the section y’all end up reading. Stories and photos have to be done by 11:15 p.m. Fridays then the section has to be put together by 12:30 a.m.; our pressmen have to print it; our mailroom staff has to insert it into the newspaper; a delivery driver has to then get it to the post office on time; then the post office takes it from there to get it out to your mailboxes. It’s a fast-paced, hectic, crazy night every single week. But I’ve grown to love it more and more every year I’m at TPI, and this year it feels even more special. 

My co-workers have become my family. We’ve been through a lot together and we spend 40-plus hours together each week. Fridays have become another way for me to make family memories. We put in so much effort as a team and, I must say, produce an outstanding product each week. 

We have a small — but mighty — staff and we certainly can’t be in more than one place at a time, but we work hard to ensure we cover every game possible. We have an amazing team of freelancers and a news team willing to get out of its comfort zone and cover high school football. 

Then there’s me — not knowing what the heck I’m doing, just trying not to get run over on the sideline. When I head out to the field, my goal is to get a photo of “guy in helmet holding ball.” “Gilmore Girls,” anybody? Anyone?

That being said, covering football just gives me more respect for the folks who do it full time. Props to all you sports reporters and photographers out there. 

Beyond that, it gives me respect for these student-athletes and coaches who dedicate so much of their time to the game. This year has certainly been different and COVID-19 may still rain on our parade a bit as this season goes on, but these kids get to play their hearts out under the stadium lights and fans. And that’s what matters. The fans may have masks on and there may not be as big of a crowd as usual, but there’s still nothing like Friday night football.

I’m glad the band, dance team, color guard and cheerleaders will also get to do what they love. They’ll all be part of exactly what I’m saying football brings me — making memories.

While I may not be your typical football fan, I’m a fan of family and making special memories. This season may be a little different, but dang it, football is football. I’m ready for another season of it all.



Santana Wood

Managing Editor

Santana Wood is the managing editor of The Outlook.

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