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STOVALL: Passing out some summer accolades to our readers

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So I’m nine months into this thing, here as The Covington News sports editor, and there’s a lot I could say about my time here.

Foremost, as I sit back and take inventory of what I’ve experienced here, and even as I marvel at how much our readers have grown our social media footprints, it seems most appropriate to say “thank you.” 

Forget about whether or not I’m a great, good or mediocre sports writer. This thing is only as good as it is because of you, my Covington sports family. 

I once wrote an ode to readers, fans, parents, athletes and coaches back while I was covering 23 schools in Henry and Clayton counties that got picked up by the GHSA and the Associated Press’ sports department, I guess because it resonated with many of my sports writer peers. 

I won’t try to recreate that piece of magic, but I do feel that I need to be just as personal to you, Covington, as I’ve been to the other communities I’ve served in the past. 

Again I say, “Thank you.” 

To declare that there’s no way I could be even mildly successful in this role as sports editor without you is a gross understatement. 

To be sure, covering three GHSA schools (well, four since this year I’m putting more emphasis on Social Circle) is not as grueling as trying to dole out fair coverage for two dozen of them. But the task is arduous enough.

One thing I’ve tried to do during my time in Covington — and really during my time covering anyone and any where — is help shine a much needed light on the awesome athletic talent and sports culture in this area. As I was talking with Anthony Lloyd, the athletic director and owner of NewRock Prep Academy, the native Newton County resident observed that the East Metro Atlanta area often gets the short end of the stick. 

“Usually once people get to the east side, everything stops,” Lloyd said. “Everybody just kind of forgets about us over here.” 

But they shouldn’t. And that’s where my mission comes in. Contrary to what some believe about good sports journalism, I’ve seen it help get athletes noticed to the point of getting scholarship offers and recruiting attention. 

I’ve seen fan bases energized and individual athletes — along with their parents — encouraged by good sports coverage. But no matter how good the newspaper or how gifted the sports writer, one thing is for sure: There’s absolutely no way good sports coverage happens without your support. 

Even with three/four schools GHSA schools and a handful of private schools, it’s absolutely impossible for me to be everywhere. I can’t clone myself. But I’ve been blessed with a good group of freelance writers, photographers and interns who have provided work that rivals that of a full time staff in quality. 

But then, of course, I have the parents, the coaches, the athletes themselves and all of you who read us on Sundays, subscribe to us online, follow us on social media with retweets, likes and shares, advertise with us and most importantly, provide us with tips and story ideas, as well as insight on what and who needs to be covered. 

You are the real MVPs. 

I’m particularly excited about this school year because it will be my first full school year covering our schools and athletes. I’m looking forward to beefing up our coverage of Social Circle, Oxford College and all our private schools, not to mention a local spin on NCAA Division I and professional sports. 

I’m also excited about some of the cool things we’ll break ground on digitally, like video documentaries and a weekly sports recap show and podcast. 

All of this is for one purpose: To turn up the wattage on the light we shine on our most deserving student-athletes and athletic programs. 

Over the last nine months I’ve heard people say that they’ve seen some growth and improvement in our sports pages. I can’t take all the credit for that at all. In fact, I reserve the biggest pats on the back for you. You make it happen. 

Thanks again for all your support. As we are just two weeks away from the dawning of a new school year, let’s endeavor together to make this one of the best year of high school athletics this county has ever seen! 

That means you guys gotta keep the feedback, information and ideas coming. I can’t wait to see what we come up with together. 

 

Gabriel Stovall is the PROUD sports editor of The Covington News. You can reach him for tips and story ideas at gstovall@covnews.com. Find him on Twitter: @GabrielStovall1, and give our sports Twitter page a follow as well: @CovNewsSports.

 

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