This time comes but once a year.
But Thanksgiving shouldn’t just be a holiday.
It works better as a permanent state of mind. And as I’ve bounced around Clayton County for the last six months, covering some of the best student-athletes in the Atlanta metro area, I realize that I’ve got much to be thankful for as a sports writer.
And so do you, Clayton County.
For second chances: Lovejoy football’s special 2011 season ended in heartbreak at the hands of Tucker in the Class AAAA championship game. But the 2012 version looks just as strong, and will get a chance to take another step toward accomplishing unfinished business with a win against Marietta Friday night. Meanwhile, thanks to loaded senior classes the Jonesboro boys and girls basketball teams are primed to make return trips to the Final Four. . . and beyond.
For the future: Few things warmed my heart this football season more than covering the county’s middle school football playoffs. I can only imagine how thankful the parents, family members and coaches are for the opportunity to raise up the stars of tomorrow.
For non-scoreboard victories: Forest Park football coach Don Williams had a tough first year with the Panthers going 0-10 on the football field. But he went a big 1-0 in life, making a great spiritual impact on this group of kids — planting seeds that promise to spring up great fruit for years to come. Some things are bigger than football.
For immediate impact: Former Lovejoy defensive backs Rico McWilliams and Jermaine Hough have already begun to make the value of their presence felt at their respective schools. McWilliams, despite being out for the season with a knee injury, earned praise for his work ethic and attitude from star Gamecocks running back Marcus Lattimore. Meanwhile, Hough’s playmaking ability has made it impossible for Jacksonville State coach Jack Crowe to keep the true freshman on the bench.
For YouTube: And the many coaching rants and media faux pas therein which keep our newsroom lively with laughter every day.
For social media: And all of the new Facebook and Twitter friends I’ve gained from covering you, Clayton County.
For six wins: My Nebraska Cornhuskers haven’t won six straight games since who-knows-when. Friday against Iowa should make it six. I’m claiming it! Then, we’re one Big Ten title game away from our first BCS Bowl game in 12 years. Go Big Red!
For six months: Of working with one of the most spectacular sports page designers (Brian Paglia) and the greatest sports editor (Derrick Mahone) a guy could ask for. I once had given up on my journalism career after a being away from the business for a while. These guys — and the entire Clayton News Daily — have truly revived my passion for this business.
For six years: Of living in Clayton County. Many people have a lot of negative things to say, but I love this place like a second home. There’s plenty of good that exists here.
And last, but certainly not least...
For my family: Shout out to my wife, Courtney, who is just as big a sports fan as I am, and my not-so-little 18-month old linebacker Micah (Say “hike,” and he’ll hunch his shoulders, run into the couch and lift his hands yelling “Touchdown!”). You guys give me life. I love you.
Happy Thanksgiving, Clayton County. And thank you for your readership.
Gabriel Stovall covers sports for the Clayton News Daily and Henry Daily Herald newspapers. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter? Follow him @GabrielStovall1.