Take me out to the ball games

By Jeffery Armstrong

Here we go again, y'all.

School has started and for me, that means I get to go out of the office and venture to the various high schools around Clayton and Henry counties, covering the sports in session. Sweet!

Covering these young athletes hard at work to win athletic championships is like therapy for me. This may sound strange, but watching these kids play makes me feel good about my day, the way pro wrestling (especially in the 80s and early 90s) used to make me feel. Yes, I said pro wrestling.

When I was younger, pro wrestling used to make my bad days better. If I had a rough day at home, in school or at work, I would instantly feel better if I knew that wrestling was coming on that afternoon, evening or night. I don't know, something about grown men putting sleeper holds, fireman-carry takedowns and belly-to-belly suplexes on each other really made my day.

Wrestling is pretty much garbage now; all those clowns do is talk, talk and then talk some more. There's no actual mat action like back in the day, when there were two-out-of-three fall matches, coal miner's glove matches, Russian chain matches. It's not fun anymore.

Now, high school athletes have taken the place of pro wrestlers for me. Watching these young men and women compete is great for me. And the good thing about a new school year is the uncertainty.

For instance, will the Jonesboro football team overcome the loss of its stellar senior class to compete for another region title? Will the Henry County, Eagle's Landing, Stockbridge and Jonesboro softball teams qualify for the playoffs this year like they did in 2002? Will the Henry football team win a game this year now that they have added new pieces to the puzzle? We'll see.

I ventured deep into the heart of Locust Grove Tuesday night to cover the Luella High volleyball team play the first athletic contest in school history. I wasn't disappointed. The young Lady Lions showed heart, but they were swept by both Lovejoy and Riverdale. The girls were excited and so was their head coach about playing the first games on campus. Tuesday, I suddenly realized that I had made a complete coverage circle since I became a sports reporter three years ago, starting in south Fulton and Fayette counties and ending here.

I have covered a school playing its first varsity game ever (Luella) and I have covered schools playing in state title matches, which qualifies as their last games of the year. Unfortunately for me, I've only witnessed two state champions (Landmark Christian and Woodward Academy won volleyball titles in 2001). The Jonesboro boys basketball team came oh-so-close to winning my third championship last year, losing to Transfer High, oops, I mean, Wheeler High.

Yes, I said MY third championship. My spirit is out there with those athletes n on every serve, on every shot, on every base hit. If it were up to me, all the teams I cover would make the playoffs every year. If some should produce state titles, that's just icing on the cake.

Jeffery Armstrong is a sports writer for the Daily and his column appears on Thursdays. He can be reached at jarmstrong@news-daily.com.