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Thoughts on sports, and coverage

Sports Column

POSTED: August 31, 2017 2:00 p.m.

Random stuff:

I got a message from Bradwell Institute Athletic Director Ken Griffin the other day, explaining why the school has teamed up to broadcast its football games live on lowcountryradio.com, a Richmond Hill based internet radio station started up by Bryan County Emergency Services Director Freddy Howell.

I can sum it up in two words.

Kenneth Lockhart.

Lockhart, the Tigers’ kicker, nailed a 37-yard field goal in the Tigers’ 23-7 win over rival Bradwell Institute on Friday, and that kick resonated all the way around the globe to Afghanistan.

That’s where Sgt. Maj. Leslie Wayne Lockhart is currently deployed, and he sent this message to Griffin.

“When ya’ll called the field goal that he had I was jumping up and down hootin and hollerin and being all loud,” it read. “The funny part about it was that I was all by myself in the dark but felt like I was right there. I know I won’t be able to catch all the games but I’m definitely gonna listen to some more.”

That’s why, in a nutshell, Bradwell is doing this in partnership with Howell’s outfit. Not just for some sergeant major’s kid, but for all those dads deployed out there who’s kids play football for BI.

That the rest of us can also listen in is a bonus.

Up next: Liberty (0-1) plays host to Statesboro on Friday. The Blue Devils, under new coach Jeff Kaiser, dropped a 42-27 decision to Burke County last week.

Bradwell (1-0), meanwhile, will look to keep its momentum going against Southeast Bulloch. The Yellowjackets are now led by former Statesboro head coach Steve Pennington, one of the classiest high school football coaches in the business. Southeast Bulloch fell to visiting Richmond Hill 38-21 in its opener.

Onward: Murray Poole, the longtime sports editor of the Brunswick News and one of the best in the business until he retired several years back, once told me something I’ll never forget.

“Readers don’t care what you went through to get a story,” he said. “They just want to know who won.”

I knew what he meant.

At the time, I was sports editor of this paper and coming off about a three-weekend stretch in which I put 1,000-plus miles on my pickup covering road football games. I’d leave on a Friday afternoon, get home at 2-3 a.m., get up and come to work Saturday. I was tired and, even worse, running out of sportswriting cliches.

This paper has, of course, long tried to cover its prep sports like the big leagues. I spent more nights and weekends on fields and diamonds and courts than I can count — spent so much time covering other people’s lives there wasn’t much time for my own.

And I wasn’t doing anything special.

Before me there was Ken Wynn and Pat Donahue and Stan Parker.

After me, eventually, was Patty Leon, who did the job well for many years until she, too, decided to take a break from covering sports.

One of the first things we did when I came back here as an editor was to make her a senior writer so she could use her talents in other places, and take Friday nights and weekends off if she wanted.

She’s earned that.

For a while after Patty moved over to news, we had a part-time sports guy, but his heart and his future is in broadcasting, and he got another opportunity that limited what he could do here.

Truth is, we’ve always relied heavily on freelancers such as Mike Riddle, who is excellent at covering Long County sports, and Marcia Graham, who is invaluable covering FPC.

Caleb Bailey helps when he’s not coaching, and Corey Bates is promising and did a good job on the BI-Liberty game the other night.

We’ve also partnered with photographers Charles Smith and Ed Blackmon to get us better photos.

But we’re not done. We are still seeking freelancers to cover BI and Liberty high school sports, including football, but also softball and cross country and everything else.

If you’re a high school or college kid interested in covering local sports through words, video and pictures, shoot me an email at jwhitten@coastalcourier.com.

Whitten is managing editor of the Coastal Courier.

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