Coming back to Friday football

Published 11:33 pm Friday, August 25, 2017

Before coming to LaGrange, I was the sports editor for another newspaper outside of Birmingham. My job was simply to write about and watch local sports. It was a job I enjoyed for the time I had it, and I would not trade the relationships I built with coaches and players. Athletics have played a large role in my life both professionally and personally, and a number of my fondest memories are tied to either a court or a field.

I don’t have the relationships with the athletic community as a whole here in LaGrange that I had in Alabama, and I likely never will. That’s not my role anymore. We also have one of the best, if not the best, local sports writers in the state in Kevin Eckleberry, and I could spend 10 years working the sports beat in this town and still not be as connected as him.

Having said that, I did get the chance to make it out to Callaway Stadium for Troup County’s home opener on Aug. 17, as well as the LaGrange vs. Callaway game the next evening. The sales staff and I were passing out issues of our Pigskin Preview to those in attendance. Being at a football field on a Friday night without covering the game taking place was a new experience for me, but the more I looked around, the more I realized the universal similarities of high school athletics, whether they be taking place here in Troup County or across the country.

The smiles are the same from the volunteers working the gate, dutifully taking ticket stubs. The enthusiasm from the student sections are the same, as is the dedication to a weekly themed wardrobe. The booming voice of the announcer is the same, permeating the eardrums of those in the grandstands. The hopeful, yet cautious optimism in the eyes of the parents is the same, as is the delight in the eyes of the children present, happy to be at the end of the school week.

After all magazines were distributed, I took some time to lean against the fence separating the field from the stands to simply take in the surroundings. I couldn’t help but smile at the scene. LaGrange is my home now, and I’m happy to be here, but I am still a relative newcomer adjusting to new surroundings. But in that moment, on that field, everything was familiar.

This community, like a plethora of communities across the country, proved to me once again one single, simple reality.

There is magic on fall Friday nights.