Thank you, IR, for an unforgettable rookie year

Date Published: 
June 6, 2014

When I was interviewing for the sports reporter position at the Coastal Point last summer, I asked Editor Darin McCann what teams I would be covering for the upcoming fall season — Ravens? Eagles? Surely not the Redskins. Right?

Wrong. Local high school sports, he told me — specifically Indian River High School. I was a little surprised. I not only found it hard to believe that our emphasis would be on high school football rather than the NFL — the pinnacle of all sports media coverage — but, I didn’t even know where Indian River was.

However, after questioning this notion initially, Darin told me something that I hadn’t considered: We were a local paper, covering local events for local people. People who wanted to read about the Indian River football team weren’t going to pick up a Baltimore Sun; they were going to pick up a Coastal Point. And when they did, they didn’t want to see Joe Flacco; they wanted to see Spencer Murray, or KiAnté Sturgis, or Tim Roberts.

Of course, Darin didn’t really say any of this. It was just what I took from what he said, which was something along those lines — he gets a lot of emails, so he’s typically much more to the point than that (unless he digresses, which is another story altogether...).

Despite questioning the editor’s principles of proven success in my first interview and wearing the same size-medium shirt to my second interview (it’s my only button-down, and I’m a large), I somehow got the job and attended my first Indian River football game last fall.

The stands were packed, there wasn’t an empty spot along the fence, and “Krash” was on the mic in the press box. Everyone knew everyone, and everyone was there for one reason: to see their team represent their town on their football field at their high school.

I wasn’t used to that. An entire community coming together in support of a common interest. Baltimore prep schools tend to be a little more self-involved — they’re more about individual players, individual goals and individual accolades. Not to mention that none of the schools I went to or played against represented a community. In most cases, they represented the way that people wanted to define themselves within a community.

It didn’t take long to develop and appreciate a new and refreshing mindset and, after a few weeks, I began to get to know the coaches, the players, the parents and the fans. I got to know that volleyball coach Jay Clark’s interviews were long and that head football coach Ray Steele’s were short — and that head soccer coach Steve Kilby’s first words to me after the game were going to be “Do you want anyone?”

I was greeted with a smile and a handshake at every game by Principal Bennett Murray and always got a few minutes to catch up with Athletic Director Todd Fuhrman, despite his busy and ever-changing schedule. Faces that had always been friendly became more familiar, so I stopped wearing my press pass. I didn’t need it anymore.

Despite my unadvertised credentials, I was lucky enough to be there for almost every major moment of the 2013-2014 season. I was there when the soccer team won their first-ever DIAA State Championship and unintentionally helped a local TV station along in the interview process after the game.

I was there when Tim Roberts picked off All-State quarterback Logan Wescott three times in the same game to seal the win at Woodbridge. And I was there when the Indians locked in their third consecutive Henlopen South title just a few games later.

I was there when Jake Troublefield got his 100th career win on the mats. I was there when the basketball team made their first-playoff appearance since 1999 and watched Jaevon “B.B.” Holland walk off the court in green-and-gold for the last time.

I was there for all nine of Alex Myers’ saves against Sussex Tech in the Henlopen Conference Championship game and for Devin Thune’s game-winning goal. I was there for Karlie Clutch’s game-winning three-run homer against Delmar in the seventh inning, and when Rachel Hudson battled back from injury yet again to lead the Lady Indians’ softball team to the playoffs.

I was there for it all — taking notes, taking photos, tweeting scores and telling the story every Friday.

Fittingly, my first column comes at the end of my first full season covering Indian River athletics, and I can think of no better use for it than for expressing my gratitude for the class-act people affiliated with the class-act school that helped me along the way.

First and foremost, thank you, Todd Fuhrman, for too many things to even begin to list. Thank you, Bennett Murray, for always being at games and always being happy to see us there, too. Thanks, Coach Steele and Coach Kilby, for always having the stats and providing excellent interviews after games.

Thanks, Coach Brittingham, Coach Riddle and Coach Waite, for always coming through in the clutch when I’m up against a deadline. Thanks, Coach Fabber, for turning the boys’ basketball program around, and thanks, Coach Mayette, for being in the process of doing the same for the girls’ program. Thanks Coach Dietz, Coach Sheriden and the rest of the lacrosse team for letting the “Quack Attack” headline slide.

Thanks to Lori Hudson and everyone who’s ever texted me a score update when I couldn’t be at a game and every coach who’s given me an interview, even when they didn’t want to after a tough loss.

Thanks for inviting me to play in the lacrosse alumni game and to graduations and just for being stoked to see me on the sidelines or coming up to me to tell me that you enjoyed my latest article.

For a reporter who started out hoping to write about the Ravens, I couldn’t tell you how many touchdowns Joe Flacco threw last season, or who their leading receiver was, or how many yards Ray Rice rushed for. But I can tell you how many Murray threw, and that the Indians’ leading receiver was Roberts, and how many yards Sturgis rushed for.

I’ll be able to tell you the same things for next year’s squad, too. Next year is a new season, with new schedules, new obstacles, new players and even some new sports — but I sure hope I see a lot of the same faces.