I have truly enjoyed being your sports writer

By Josh Raymer Published:

I couldn’t resist working Peyton Manning into one final column for the State Journal.

Faced with the prospect of writing a farewell column meant to reflect on two years of being a sportswriter, I once again looked to the former Colts QB for inspiration.

I found just what I needed in Peyton’s final press conference with the Colts, when the NFL’s only four-time MVP handled his release with an unparalleled amount of class and dignity.

In the last part of a prepared statement, Peyton looked directly at the camera and addressed Colts fans everywhere.

“Thank you very much from the bottom of my heart,” he said. “I truly have enjoyed being your quarterback.”

When it came time to write this column, I realized I felt the same way about being a sportswriter for the State Journal.

To State Journal readers everywhere:

I truly have enjoyed falling in love with the high school sports culture in Frankfort. The energy that pulses through this town on Friday nights when two local teams are playing is infectious.

I’m supposed to remain detached and impartial but it’s impossible not to get excited when I pull up to a football field and see the bright lights or hear the buzz of the crowd as I’m approaching a basketball arena.

I truly have enjoyed getting to know the coach of every team and watching players develop from one year to the next.

To the coaches: I’ve never met a nicer, more dedicated group of individuals in my life. You treated me with class and respect even though I was sticking a recorder in your face and asking you questions whether your team won or got killed.

I greatly appreciate your professionalism. The team that you coach is blessed to have you, whether they realize it or not.

To the players: I’ve been in your shoes. I know what’s it like to balance school, sports and a social life. It’s not easy but it’s worth it. Keep working hard and listen to your coaches. Most of all – be sure to have fun. High school goes by fast.

I truly have enjoyed getting to watch Ryan Timmons play football. I have never seen a high schooler with the speed, vision, agility and acceleration necessary to run from one side of the football field to the other and score a touchdown.

With Ryan, I felt like I saw it every game.

I truly have enjoyed covering Frankfort High football games. Any time I told Ali, my wife, that I was covering the Panthers, she’d insist on joining me.

We loved everything about it, from the field’s position in the middle of a neighborhood to the way it felt like the whole school attended the games. It’s tough to top small-school pride sometimes.

I truly have enjoyed seeing the energy and effort that goes into showcasing Frankfort’s basketball teams.

How many counties can say their teams get games filmed, edited and shown on television with commentary included? I don’t know the answer but I hope fans and parents never take for granted this town’s dedication to its young hoopsters.

I truly have enjoyed watching all three high schools play some fantastic baseball and softball games.

I’d have a hard time thinking of more thrilling games than the ones played by the Western Hills baseball team when it shocked Franklin County and Woodford County to win the district tournament or when the Lady Wolverines prevailed over Franklin County in the ninth inning to win the district title.

I truly have enjoyed gaining a better appreciation for sports I had no prior experience with before taking this job.

I’d never seen volleyball, tennis, wrestling or golf play out at the high school level. Now I can tell you what a “side out” is, spot a strong backhand, appreciate a takedown and understand the frustration of a double-bogey.

I truly have enjoyed helping spread the love of dodgeball in Frankfort.

Whether I was working with WeWannaPlay, Inc. or Go Frankfort, it brings me great joy to know that Frankfort residents have experienced the thrill of smashing someone in the face with a dodgeball.

To paraphrase Peyton: Thank you very much from the bottom of my heart. I truly have enjoyed being your sports writer.

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