You could tell I was the new guy as I walked around North Forsyth trying to find an entrance to the football stadium. To the right? Nothing but fence for days. To the left? A daunting hill that appeared to go nowhere.
Eventually, I would find an unlocked door that led me into the Raiders football complex, but before I walked through I stopped at the sight of eight rocks on the ground. Each rock was painted with the school logo of one of North’s opponents this season – Forsyth Central, Cherokee, South Forsyth, Johns Creek, Chattahoochee, Lambert, Alpharetta and West Forsyth.
I was hoping to get the scandalous details of what North planned to do with the rocks this season, but new Raiders head coach Jason Galt said he knew as much as I did. Regardless, they are there, placed strategically in front of the door North players walk in and out of repeatedly, seemingly a reminder that these games matter.
Right then, I knew I had come to the right place.
This is what has captivated me the past five seasons I’ve covered high school sports.
The incredible athletic feats, yes, but more so the reaction they cause in a crowd of students, family and community.
The compelling state tournament runs, sure, but even more so the buzz and pride that swells in school hallways and grocery store chatter.
The mesmerizing plays, of course, but more so the personalities behind the play and the play call.
That’s what makes high school sports – indeed, all sports in general – so compelling.
That’s what we’re going to do our best to give you this upcoming school year.
After I saw those rocks outside the North football complex, I felt it was time to introduce myself. I’m coming to you from a five-year stint at the Clayton News Daily and Henry Daily Herald newspapers as a sports writer, designer, photographer, etc., etc. I’ve been learning what a great community sports section should be from Derrick Mahone, a former high school sports writer at the Atlanta Journal-Consitition.
We covered everything from the summer racing series at Atlanta Motor Speedway to (finally) a high school football state championship game in the Georgia Dome. We decided it wasn’t enough to just cover the games but to give our readers a look beyond the game at the players and coaches, to give context to the action on the court or field and insight into what a night’s slate of games might mean next week, next month, maybe even next year.
So that’s going to be our mission here. From the look of those eight painted rocks at North, I think that’s something you all might enjoy.
And those rocks? If I was at North, I’d want to watch the team form a circle around the rock with the school we’re facing that night and see Galt smash it with a sledgehammer.
Disrespectful? No way; it’s fun.
It’s high school sports.
Brian Paglia is sports editor at the Forsyth County News. He can be reached at email@example.com or 770-205-8982. On Twitter? Follow him @BrianPaglia.