When I arrived at Turner Field on Sunday night to watch the Atlanta Braves take on the defending World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals I was excited yet nervous.
This would be my first-ever coverage of Braves baseball as a sports writer for The Covington News. And when I got there, it was an amazing feeling as I walked to the media gate to receive my credentials.
After getting on an elevator that took me to the pressroom, I met Adrienne Mitchell of the public relations team. She briefed me on the dos and the don'ts on and off the field. She tried to give me so much information that I became intoxicated with knowledge of rules and regulations concerning the Braves organization and Major League Baseball.
I indulged myself with the great food in the pressroom lounge, but I probably ate too many hot dogs. (Hey, they were free!)
Sitting across from me eating angel cake was Terrance Moore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He noticed that I was a bit nervous because I was in this room with famous people like Joe Morgan of ESPN and other notable figures from baseball. I wanted to represent The Covington News well and not make a bad first impression.
Terrance told me that I would be fine. (Sure, that's easy for him to say, it's not his first time, I thought.)
As I completed setting my equipment up, Adrienne took me to the Braves Clubhouse, which led directly to the field. As I walked in, I noticed all of the Braves history since coming to Atlanta in 1966. I was privileged and honored to be a part of this, and I was amazed by the traditions and commitments this ball club possessed.
Walking through the tunnel gave me goose bumps. I felt the hairs growing on the back of my neck as the slow, whining breeze blew in my face - I knew that feeling all too well. I knew that I was in my element that defines what I love. I also realized that my dream to be a great sports writer is not a hobby, but an obsession, and that walk through the tunnel confirmed that in my spirit.
I walked onto the field and it was incredible. The weather was about 77 degrees, and the humidity was low after the rain fell the night after. I watched the Braves participate in batting practice before the game. It was then when I noticed Peter Gammon of ESPN talking with both Jeff Francoeur and Braves hitting coach, Terry Pendleton.
As I walked along the track, since I was not allowed on the actual field, I began to suddenly take everything in. I watched the kids hounding both Braves and Cardinals players for autographs. Everyone seemed so focused and prepared for the game, so I didn't want to bother anyone. I took mental notes and stayed very observant, making sure I didn't miss anything - I wanted to make every moment count.
In the end, the Braves lost to the Cardinals, 7-2, in extra innings. Being in the clubhouse, I finally understood what a loss in baseball was really like: a funeral. It was a heartbreaker for Atlanta, and the mood was not pleasant to say the least. I didn't know what to say or what to do, so I acted as a fan and not a reporter. I was stumped and didn't have the confidence to ask anyone anything.
I grew up a bit that night. I now understand what it takes to be a sports reporter and not just a fan. After Sunday's game, I was baptized into the world of professional sports and learned what it takes to do the job, and do it well. That was my first time and I am very proud of myself.
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