Covington, this is for you.
Replace "Covington" with "Cleveland, and sports fans, particular NBA fans, will recognize that phrasing from LeBron James, center court, after delivering the first-ever NBA title and major sports championship in more than 50 years to the city of Cleveland in 2016 by way of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
I have spent the last four months interning at The Covington News, and I have tried my best not only to serve myself but also serve the community of Newton County. In that time, I have met some incredible people and have learned an invaluable amount about reporting on those people.
Sometimes in this business, the people element of reporting can be lost among the factors that don’t necessarily matter to the reader. As a young reporter, I thought about this aspect many times when assessing why it is that I do this.
On one of the first days of my internship, I went out with the illustrious sports editor Gabriel Stovall as he went to cover the aftermath of Rick Rasmussen's departure as basketball coach at Newton High. There he met with Newton High athletic director and assistant principal Vincent Byams. It was there that Byams asked me why I majored in journalism.
The answer to that question is a bit complex -- if you see me around, and want to know the full answer, don’t hesitate to ask me, and we can have that whole conversation. The simple answer is that journalism is about documenting the present in the most impactful and honest way, and I find that fascinating.
I was always a curious child and hated not knowing -- traits that I still carry to this day. My dream as a kid was to be a scientist and inventor, the farthest profession there is from being a reporter. It's journalism, though, that allows me to put my curiosity and creativity to the test and report stories that resonate with the audience.
Covington is an exciting place that I continue to discover new things about each day, and the stories that exist are boundless.
I wish I were able to put down each and everything about the city that I learned during my internship, but I would run out of time and space eventually. One definitive thing I did learn about the city is that it is a community that is connected through its sports and that relationship is unique. The outpour of love that was extended to coach Ras as he left Newton was inspiring.
The way the community – and the extended community by way of University Kentucky point guard and Newton grad Ashton Hagans -- responded to Newton Principal Shannon Buff as she began her battle with a cancer diagnosis with #BuffStrong was powerful.
Watching the collective emotions with the diagnosis and eventual passing of Eastside boys basketball head coach Brent Wren put the city in a different light for me.
It would be an understatement to say that it has been an emotional summer for a reporter who thought he would just be coming in to cover the sports scene. But that’s what is special about sport – the very nature of it is conducive to feeling various emotions.
Just ask the Eastside Lady Eagles soccer team who had one of the best seasons in school history come to an end in the quarterfinals of the playoffs against powerhouse Blessed Trinity. Being on the field and witnessing the raw emotion from the girls in the aftermath of that loss is something that I’ll never forget. Fans waited for them as the team had an extended stay in the locker room, and as they finally emerged, they were greeted with a passionate ovation.
That’s Covington in a nutshell. Win and the city cheers. Lose with fight, and it cheers even louder.
Being in a newsroom affords me the position of watching everything that has happened with a level of knowledge and scrutiny that most people don’t have. The privilege of that position is not lost on me.
Sometimes the privilege of my position – even as an intern -- can be heavy as with the death of Kevin Marshall. Speaking with Mrs. Marshall over the phone a day after the alleged murder of her son was an experience that will stick with me forever. Hearing how Newton head wrestling and assistant football coach Tommy Gregory cared for Marshall was emotional for me.
The community supported the Marshalls in a way that I was never privy to seeing until his passing. Through sports, he was able to find solace and connect with his community.
I learned so much about myself as a writer and person working under Stovall. But I also learned much about Stovall. The reporter and man cares for the community he serves through journalism like he was born and raised here. It has become a surrogate home for him. That care and attention to detail has given the community the type of sports coverage that it deserves, and I hope it does not take for granted.
I always say that Stovall is “the man” even though he would never say that himself. I’m a better reporter for having linked my story with his.
He made sure to remind me that being a talented reporter is fine, but what matters is connecting that writing to the community and knowing the people. And that’s what I tried to do in every article and story I told. From each scholarship offer and signing to spring football to the new hires and even the tough stories, it was all about how they connect to the people of Covington.
As my internship ends and I transition to being a college graduate and reporting as a freelancer for The News, I hope I continue to serve the area as I have and learn new things about this special place.
This summer was illuminating and rewarding in so many ways. So if you happen to run into me when I’m not wearing a press pass, say hello. Let’s talk. I’m positive you have a story to tell, and I want nothing more than to listen.