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  • Writer's pictureSteve Gamel

Throwback Thursday: Why I Still Love Being A High School Sportswriter

I get to write about so many things as your friendly, neighborhood writer and editor. From blogs to website copy, press releases, and more, I try to be all things to all people. But what surprises many of the clients I work with is that I still love being a high school sportswriter.

Most people didn't even know that part of my life exists, but it's true. Before Edit This® and all the content writing gigs I do now, my first big break in the industry was as a sportswriter. And 23 years later, I'm still going strong as a contributing sportswriter primarily for the Denton Record-Chronicle. You can also follow my sportswriting life on Twitter at @NewspaperSteve.

Being a sports writer is fun, and I don't see myself giving it up any time soon. So in honor of Throwback Thursday, I unearthed an opinion column I wrote three years ago for the DRC. If you want to know why I still love being a high school sportswriter, this article explains it.


This is why we do this

AUSTIN - My brother has always been the snarky one out of the two of us. If there is a jab to be taken at his big brother, he's going to do it and show no remorse. A few months ago, he took a dig at my job, questioning why in the world I continue to cover high school sports.

I can hear him now saying something like - "Boring! You could be covering the pros."

Yes, I could. And I'd be damn good at it, too. But I've never once wavered in my decision to cover high school sports. Not once. And while this may sound cheesy, seeing the look on Krum pitcher Tristan Bridges' face after she struck out eight in a thrilling 4-3 win Saturday is a big reason why.

I've seen that pure elation and uncompromising passion for the game a million times over in the faces of young athletes I've had the fortune to meet in my 20 years as a sports writer. Honestly, there's nothing else like it, and it's one of the many reasons I keep coming back.

Bridges, a junior and Tarleton State commit, stood with me near home plate answering question after question with tears of joy welling up in her eyes and arms wrapped around her state title game MVP trophy. She was squeezing it tightly to her chest, almost as if she thought someone might realize they gave it to the wrong kid and take it away.

She answered every question with a "Yes, sir." There wasn't an ounce of cockiness in her body, even though she could have gotten away with it - I wouldn't have blamed her one bit - after the performance she turned in against one of the hottest-hitting teams in the state.

Her final pitch, which she blew effortlessly past Liberty Hill's Kandyn Faurie, gave Bridges 305 strikeouts for the year. She's arguably the best pitcher we have in the Denton area, and she's already got my vote for Denton Record-Chronicle All-Area Softball Team MVP. But instead of talking about her performance, she said this about being named state final MVP:

"This is an honor to think someone would think I come close to deserving this."

High school sports give sportswriters like me a chance to connect directly with readers, players, coaches and families in our community - whether face to face or through social media. We get to cover high-profile games with teams rich in college-level talent under the bright Friday night lights, and we get to go beyond the field and meet people who have overcome tragedy.

When we screw up, we hear from our readers. When we tell a story that no one else was willing to take the time to tell, our readers praise us and beg for more.

I've covered countless state championship games like Saturday's. I've watched games in the biggest venues possible and the tiniest stadiums imaginable. I've even covered games for less money than someone might make at a garage sale. But I'd do it over and over again.

So to answer my brother's snarky question: I cover high school sports because there's nothing else like it. Watching Krum and Tristan Bridges on Saturday only drove that point home further.

I want to close this column with this final thought. Many of you may have heard of some changes that were made to our sports department over the past few days. Some great people that I consider friends and much better writers than me lost their jobs due to staff reduction.

It's one of the more difficult things I've ever had to watch unfold.

I can tell you that each of those writers, just like me, loved their job covering high school sports in Denton. I think of them while I write this column, and I pray they will get back to what they love soon. Because honestly, it's an amazing job.

Regardless of what my brother thinks.

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