If you’re thumbing through the sports section right now, you may have noticed a different name in the byline — my name, as a matter of fact.
Although my name may appear rather alien, I’ve actually helped cover numerous sporting events for the West Orange Times & Observer and Windermere Observer since I first moved to Central Florida last year.
Remember Dr. Phillips’ state title game at the end of last year? Yep, I was on the sidelines covering that. Shoot, I even won first place for the online photo gallery from that game by the Florida Press Association.
I know that probably doesn’t help you at all, so let’s sit down for some story time.
Like I said, I moved down to the area in June 2017 from my home in North Carolina to take an associate editor job at the Winter Park/Maitland Observer — a sister paper to the West Orange Times & Observer. Until a week or so ago I did just about everything you can ask a journalist to do — write, photograph, edit and cover events ranging in subject matter.
But the one thing I enjoyed the most about my job was covering sports — it became my beat.
Although I worked on different topics, I became the go-to guy to shoot and write sports, because I had years of total immersion into the field that I’ve been obsessed with since I was a kid. It also helped that I had the photo equipment required to battle the generally terrible lighting at high-school sporting events.
So when the sports editor position opened here, I jumped at the opportunity. Working on and overseeing my own sports section has been something that I’ve been aiming for a long while now — it’s what first got me started in the field of journalism almost 14 years ago.
Growing up in a small town like Mount Olive, North Carolina — which sits about halfway between Raleigh and Wilmington — sports were one of the few things that kept me entertained.
Now don’t get me wrong, I have several passions — I’m a huge fan of good music, comics and general nerdiness (I will talk you to death about Star Trek and Star Wars) — but fewer things have had an impact on me quite like sports.
Some of my best and most vivid memories as a kid and as an adult have been around sports in some way or another.
Although I’m a raging fan of a baseball team that just finished one of the worst seasons in MLB history (Baltimore Orioles), I fondly remember crawling into my dad’s lap as a kid and watching the Atlanta Braves every summer night throughout the 1990s.
Then there were the times come March Madness, when teachers would roll a big-box television on a cart into the room so we could all watch the ACC Tournament. For us good ol’ North Carolina folks, this was a rite of passage that still continues to this day.
Those early days helped ignite a flame that has since helped me build quite a portfolio and life for myself.
As a journalist, I’ve covered just about every sport imaginable — from middle-school football to the NFL to the Division II College World Series — and I have gotten the chance to walk the sidelines of numerous fields and courts from North Carolina to Alabama.
Speaking of Alabama, this is my chance to throw in the fact that I’m a Bama alum (MA ’16), and a raging fanatic of all things Crimson Tide — so, Roll dang Tide. Now I know what you’re thinking, “Oh, it must be nice to be a fan of a team that wins all the time.” 1.) Yes it is, and 2.) All of my other teams (NC State, the Orioles and the Washington Redskins) have provided me with enough soul-shattering blows to keep me level-headed.
But general sports ramblings aside, what you should take away from this column is one simple thing: I love sports.
As the new sports editor at the West Orange Times & Observer and Windermere Observer, my plan is to continue the work of my friend Steven Ryzewski — who built an award-winning sports section here — and offer the community stories of which they can be proud.
See you on the sideline!