“There’s nothing good about a goodbye.”
That’s one of the most accurate quotes from “Gilmore Girls.” Goodbyes are tough. Sometimes you don’t know when you’ll see the person again; sometimes you don’t even know if you will. Sometimes there are tears and other times there is anger.
Occasionally, and in this case, it’s a bittersweet goodbye.
But actually, instead of looking at it as a goodbye, I’d rather look at it as a, “See you later.” Because although I’m leaving Tallapoosa Publishers Inc., I’m not going anywhere and I’m always just a phone call or a tweet away.
I’ve written a few of these “Final Columns,” as we call them in the business. They start as a blank sheet of paper and with years of memories and games and stories, it’s typically not hard to fill the page.
But instead of giving you a rundown of all the best games I’ve covered (you know most of these anyway) and the best athletes I’ve had the pleasure of meeting (because there are honestly too many to count) I’d rather leave you with some lessons you all have taught me along the way.
Jeremy Freeman taught me it’s OK to believe. When I first met Coach, he was the boys basketball coach at Central Coosa and he told me his team was going to deliver me my first-ever state championship. I didn’t really believe him; I just didn’t think it was in the cards. But he delivered, so it’s OK to believe.
Qua Howell taught me to always have fun. Regardless of the situation, it seemed like Qua was always having a blast on the basketball court, and even on his graduation night from Benjamin Russell this year, he was a goofball with the biggest smile on his face. Life’s too short; have fun.
Although I’m a much bigger fan of defensive showdowns, Wetumpka’s football team taught me scoring is a lot of fun. In the span of one quarter, the Indians exploded for five touchdowns in a playoff game against Spanish Fort and it was one of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen.
Taylor Harris taught me no matter how young you are, you can always roll with the big boys — or girls, in her case (probably the boys though too, because she’s just that good). Tay started for the BRHS softball team as early as seventh grade and she was never afraid. Never let your age be a barrier for what you want to get done.
I’ve seen a lot of amazing returns after injuries through my years, but Tre Tre Hughley taught me no matter how bad it gets, it can always get better. Tre Tre suffered a season-ending injury on the first play from scrimmage his junior season; it looked bad — really bad. But he put his nose to the ground, he “improvised, adapted and overcame.” It can be done.
Tallapoosa Publishers Inc. taught me sometimes your work family is just as important as your actual family. I’ve likely spent more collective hours with Santana Wood and Cliff Williams than anyone else in the last 3 ½ years. We’ve been through the ringer together and experienced things very few people can understand; we are family.
It would be impossible to recognize everyone who taught me something these past few years. There are just too many memories and too many lessons learned.
Benjamin Russell’s Pokey Norris taught me if you have a great nickname, you’ll be remembered a little more. Dadeville’s Richard White’s lesson was if I ask a stupid question, I can expect a stupid answer. Horseshoe Bend’s volleyball team showed me never to underestimate the underdog. Central Coosa’s Donta Daniel taught me being a good athlete is more about being just a good human being. And Benjamin Russell’s Richy Brooks proved sometimes life is more important than baseball. The list goes on and on, and it’d be futile to try to get it all in one column.
It’s going to be tough leaving Tallapoosa Publishers and not having the opportunity to tell your stories day in and day out. But just know you’ve all touched my heart in one way or the other. I’m a better person for knowing each of you, and I’ve learned an endless amount of lessons from coaches and players alike.
Most importantly, Reeltown football coach Matt Johnson taught me, regardless of the circumstance, when you have the chance to go for two and win it all, go for two and win it all.