PAGLIA: Farewell, Southern Crescent

Brian Paglia, bpaglia@henryherald.com

Brian Paglia, bpaglia@henryherald.com

If its true that the first step is the hardest one to take, then it’s also the most meaningful.

It’s one I contemplate now as I leave the Clayton News Daily and Henry Daily Herald newspapers after five seasons covering community sports. I’m committed to taking a new step, one that takes me to the Forsyth County News in Cumming as sports editor starting this week.

I find steps much more interesting now than I ever did. I think it comes with becoming a father, which I did during my tenure here.

You see, in the very beginning of my son’s transition to walking, I held his hand and watched each step he took. At the same time, I looked at where his path projected. Often I would re-orient him or adjust his path. I had the advantage of foresight he didn’t.

It was a wonderful feeling to offer that knowledge to him because it’s something we don’t get to enjoy ourselves. Yes, I take steps toward goals I have declared, but it’s hard to know if I’m on the right path for certain until I reach the destination.

But, along the way, as we travel further and further on our paths, we do get these glimpses backwards to see how one step led to another.

Or, as one of my favorite visionaries of all-time, the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, put it: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”

My dots are all over the Southern Crescent map.

They’re at Southern Crescent Stadium watching former North Clayton running back/linebacker Clarence Jackson tear through opposing defenses or Mundy’s Mill running back Rodney Smith shock Drew with first-quarter touchdowns.

They’re at Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy watching the Chargers baseball team dog-pile (twice) after winning the Class A private school championship.

They’re at Twelve Oaks Stadium watching Lovejoy football weep on the field after a first-round playoff exit one year then explode in celebration after reaching the state championship game the next.

They’re in the Eagle’s Landing and Locust Grove locker rooms before Friday night high school football games watching players and coaches pray then conjole then pray and sharpen their focus.

They’re at practices, college scholarship signings and hallways outside school gymansiums after basketball games.

You spread my dots out wider than I ever imagined.

To Wesleyan in Norcross to watch ELCA football win its first region championship in the Georgia High School Association.

To the Gwinnett Arena to watch Forest Park girls basketball punch its ticket to the state championship.

To Alpharetta and Macon and Fort Valley.

I claim these dots, all of them. If I don’t, one day I’ll never know how I got where I am.

I have to thank a few people: Doug Gorman, these papers’ previous sports editor who hired me; Heather Middleton, this paper’s page designer who mentored my design; Gabriel Stovall, whose skill in writing challenged me to improve my own; and Derrick Mahone, our current sports editor, whose depth of knowledge and perspective on how to cover community sports indeliably impacted my own.

Of course, I have to thank many people, more than I can. I have to thank all of you readers, you coaches and you athletes for making my job much easier and thoroughly interesting.

Thank you, Southern Crescent, for helping me get to where I’m going next.

Brian Paglia covered sports the past five seasons for the Clayton News Daily and Henry Daily Herald newspaper. He’s moving on to the Forsyth County News where he’ll be Sports Editor, but you can always follow him on Twitter @BrianPaglia.