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First year is in the books

I can still remember Nov. 20, 2019, like it was yesterday. I came to the Valley Times-News office for the second time in my life but I was more excited than nervous this time around. I walked in the front door and was led to my desk in the back of the newsroom by our receptionist Martha Milner and greeted by my new co-workers.

It was my first day as the Valley Times-News sports reporter.

Unlike some first days on the job, I was forced to quickly jump into action — Chambers Academy was getting ready to play Southern for the state championship game in Troy, while Lanett was getting ready to face Isabella in the third round of the playoffs and Kristian Story was getting ready to break Bo Nix’s state records for total touchdowns and yards in a career. While I was a little nervous about meeting a lot of people very quickly, I was excited. This is what I had wanted since graduating in May.

After some quick research, I was able to talk to coach Jason Allen over the phone and meet coach Clifford Story in person. Without them, I don’t know what I would have been doing that first day. They welcomed me into my new role and were patient with me as I tried to learn about their programs in a short time before playing a game.

A lot has happened to me and the world since that amazing Wednesday in November.

I have gotten the opportunity to cover seven state championships and a pair of wins since taking over in late November, but more importantly, I have built many great relationships with current players, coaches and members of the class of 2020.

Along with all the amazing accomplishments I have had this past year, I have learned how to adjust to the new way of life that started in Alabama on March 13. On that fateful Friday, the first positive COVID-19 test came out and started to shut down the state.

Since that Friday, I have learned to expand my role from a sports reporter to just a reporter. My job moved from just sports to sports and news. I picked up the LaFayette council, both school board beats and whatever else is needed of me, while continuing to work on sports. I have even gotten the opportunity to pick up the printed papers from Alexander City. But we’ve all had to adjust.

Even though I have been here only a year, I can’t imagine my life without Chambers County. Long after I move onto the next spot in my career, I will always remember visiting practices and staying for the entirety so I can learn as much about the team and more importantly the coaches and players involved.

During the past week, I had my first opportunity to see former local players that I know and get a chance to talk about what life has in store for them, and I hope that it continues to progress the way it is trending.

It’s been 53 weeks since I started my role here in Chambers County, and I just want to say thank you to everyone who has made this year special. I can never thank you enough. This year is already in full swing, and I am excited to see where our teams and cities are at in the near future.