EDITOR'S NOTE: This column originally ran in the Item's sports newsletter, From the Press Box with Isaiah Lucas. It was been edited for print.
Sadly, this will be the last Item Sports piece written by me. My time at The Item came to an end on Tuesday as I prepare for what's next in my career. I'll start by thanking God for opening the door for the past 10 months to happen.
I want to thank Vince, Kayla and Micah for offering me this opportunity to come down here fresh out of college. I hadn't heard of Sumter until I interviewed. A Google search told me it was three and a half hours from home, and in my interview, I learned that this was the area that Ja Morant was from.
I hadn't visited before, except to come look for a place to live, and actually still didn't know where I was going to live once that visit concluded (thanks to my mom for coming back and touring the place that ended up being my apartment while I was writing final papers). I really came down here last July with an open mind and a hope that everything would work out.
It's safe to say everything has worked out and in turn, there is a lot that I'm thankful for.
I want to thank the players, families, coaches and members of the community who allowed me to appreciate Sumter for what it is and what it's becoming. I got to talk with some of the college athletes that are from here and hear how they want to help continue to grow the area's presence on the national radar.
The biggest highlight was working on multiple editions of The Grind. It was a privilege highlighting the current high school athletes that are in the process of making names for themselves, while also being examples that those in their schools and communities can look up to. It was also neat covering all the deep playoff runs, including three state championship games.
I also experienced opportunities I couldn't have imagined when I agreed to take this job.
I met one of my favorite athletes from my childhood when Tim Tebow came and spoke at Wilson Hall. I got to meet Ja when he came to town and hosted his tournament last summer. I was able to witness Shane Beamer's crew out in Columbia knockoff Tennessee and change the fortune of their season. I was also able to witness the juggernaut that is South Carolina women's basketball. Watching them make LSU look like a regular ol' team at Colonial Life was amazing.
I got my first taste of NCAA Tournament basketball when I went to Greenville and watched them win two completely different games with utter dominance. There was a lot of value in not only watching courtside but also sitting in on press conferences and listening to Dawn Staley and her players breakdown the game. (Sidenote: The whole calling South Carolina "Carolina" thing is something I will never get behind. The only one that exists is up in Chapel Hill.)
I want to give a thank you to our sports editor, Tim Leible, for everything he has done for me in his role, as well as The Item's visual team - video producer and editor Richie Weber, former photographer Cal Cary and freelance photographer Nich Pitts. I also want to thank news and newsletter editor Shelbie Goulding for introducing this newsletter concept to me and helping me through the process, and Cary Howard for designing the awesome banner that accompanies this newsletter. I'm thankful to everyone at The Item who made working here seamless.
Lastly, I want to thank the readers. Whether that be this newsletter, my articles or both. At the end of the day, y'all are who this is ultimately for. Hopefully this isn't the last time you come across me or something I write.
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