Get on Rt. 33. Drive toward Columbus. Watch out for State Patrol, follow the speed limit. Off to the left there is a street, Johnson Rd. Take it. Drive all the way until you see a school: Athens High School.
Now why would a 21-year-old Ohio U. student claim Athens HS as his favorite place in Athens? Well the first option I had was Sells Park, but I managed to lose the photos I took from my journey there. So Athens HS came second.
What makes Athens HS one of the best places in Athens to me is that it taught me a lot about being a sports journalist. I want to be a sports writer and this past fall was the first time I got to cover football; high school football.
Having expereience covering football out of college is huge for me, especially prep football because prep sports will be a large part of what I do at my first job.
The first time I had ever been to Athens HS was a mild late summer day in mid-August. Athens was scrimmaging against Trimble HS. I knew next to nothing about the team. I knew they went to the OHSAA State Championship game two years prior, but other than that, I was clueless.
After the scrimmage was over, I met the head coach, Ryan Adams. After the first encounter, I was skeptical about the remainder of the season. Not that he was a bad guy at all, he wasn’t, it was just the first time The Post, Ohio University’s independent school paper, covered the team; he was unfamiliar with me and the other beat reporter, we were unfamiliar with him.
But about four games into the season, things changed. It was the game at Alexander HS. The game concluded, his team victorious. But he wasn’t expecting us to show up to the game. Most times, the other publication to cover HS sports in the area shows up to select games.
But our job was to solely cover Athens HS.
We had to track him down for an interview. At that point, he knew we cared. He began to understand that we are going to show up at practice and every game, home and away.
Throughout the season, me and the other beat reporter built a raport with the coach and our relationship with him changed.
It was something I looked forward to. Every sports journalism professional I have met, has a solid relationship with the head coach of the high school team. I always wanted that. I got it.
That made covering the team more fun and really helped me see how fun covering high school sports can be, depsite the stigma of it being an entry level job.
Obviously, I don’t plan on covering high school sports the rest of my life, but I went into the season biased against the fact that I didn’t want to cover high school football. But I came out of the season, with content I am proud of producing and a better sports journalist and a grown passion for writing about sports.