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Sam's reflection on the 2014 senior class PHOTO GALLERY
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The state championship trophies have all been given out, the sports fields are empty, and the hallways of local schools are a ghost town; seniors graduated, classrooms packed up and teachers enjoying their summer vacations.
For those seniors who cannot believe high school is finally over, I’m right there with you. My second school year with The News Herald is officially in the books and what a year it was.
My first time around, each season and for the most part, each sport was new. I was constantly introducing myself to new coaches, learning the specific details and rules of sports I had never covered before and struggling with the type of deadlines I was not used to.
I spent my games with rosters glued to my side, jotting down stats and key plays and sometimes tweeting the occasional update of a game.
It was not until the 2012-2013 school year was over that I realized just how much I enjoyed what I was doing. Those weeks between the winter season ending and fall season starting drug on forever before “opening day” finally came around.
My first football game, 3 days after I started at The News Herald, was full of stress. Anxiety that I would never be able to keep up with stats, I would miss the key play, I would never finish my deadline on time.
This past fall was a whole different story.
My football game was nothing but excitement. I was back on the field, doing what I loved, while I got to watch our athletes do what they loved.
There’s an old saying that if you do what you love, you’ll never have to work a day in your life. When I am out covering a game, I truly am not working.
There’s only one word I use to describe what I get to do; fortunate.
The athletes in this area are some of the hardest working individuals I have ever had the pleasure of getting to work with. They are truly the reason I love doing what I do.
This school year was quite different than last year. I was no longer questioning myself at certain sports, having taken the time to learn what each one was about.
I didn’t have to awkwardly introduce myself to each coach, with a few of them being shocked that the Sam that had emailed them, was indeed female.
Each game brought a new excitement. I no longer carried rosters around because I knew my players. I knew their numbers, I knew their faces and I knew what they did the previous year.
If reporters from other papers or websites showed up, I was quick to point out that these were my teams and anything they needed to know, I could answer.
I knew what all of the big matchups meant and I looked forward to them almost as much as the players and coaches.
I started tweeting play-by-plays, constant updates and pictures from each game. And hey, schools, players and parents even started interacting with me! I vividly remember the day my News Herald Twitter follower number passed that of my personal Twitter. I sent a tweet
that I must truly be a real journalist now.
The one constant that continued to amaze me as the weeks went on this year was the seniors. Yes, underclassmen, your classes have some great talent and I’m more than looking forward to how you grow and improve over the years. But this senior class that just graduated was a special one.
Some of them did not play at the varsity level until their junior years, so in a way, they are my first graduating class; the class I first started with.
And what memories they have left me with.
The football memories are endless.
The big Melvindlae-Allen Park first-game-of-the-season matchup was an exciting one not only because it was a gorgeous day, but because the talent on both of those teams were simply exciting to watch.
Week 6 brought the most excitement as far as Friday night football goes.
Lincoln Park snapped a 66-game losing streak with a win over Kennedy, Woodhaven won on an extremely last minute touchdown run against Trenton and Allen Park got a big upset win over Truman.
I was at the Allen Park-Truman game and as I ran up and down the sidelines as a botched punt, an interception, a fumble recovery and two touchdowns tosses from Nick Fulton happened just in the last three minutes, I remember thinking; this is why I love doing what I do.
I followed the Trenton boys’ soccer team and the Melvindale football team across the state to the regional finals, bundling up as the season stretched on and the cold weather started to role in.
Winter season rolled around and my excitement grew.
Hockey started and while I only had five teams to cover instead of 11, the ones I had were all the same from the previous year.
And just like the previous year, the players did not disappoint. I watched Allen Park upset 2012 News Herald hockey champ to win the title and then watched the Jags win two other tournaments. A few weeks later I watched Adam Ibach and a fun Anderson team upset Allen Park at the league showcase.
I followed the Jags to Clark Park in Detroit for the second annual outdoor hockey game against Dearborn Unified and then again to the regional finals in an intense double-overtime game with big time rival Divine Child.
The highlight to the winter season was being on the ice seconds after the Trenton hockey team won its state championship at Compuware.
Capturing the emotions of those seniors as they celebrated is something I won’t soon forget.
Hockey will definitely be different next season. Allen Park will be missing an amazing 14 seniors, Carlson will be missing its dominant goalie, Anderson will be missing some very talented and key players and Trenton will lose some top scorers and big time goalie.
Girls’ basketball will definitely be a huge adjustment as we head into next season.
The senior classes all those schools are losing is definitely one for the books.
Granted, new players will step in and will be exciting to watch, but for me it won’t be quite the same.
The rivalries will continue much in the way they always have, but to me, a Woodhaven-Anderson showdown just won’t be quite the same without Cassie Breen, Amani Corley and Tinara Moore on the court.
Their talents are something I definitely won't forget, along with Truman's April Micheaux and Allen Park's Casey Bowdell.
I only covered boys' swimming for one season but I can definitely say the waters will not be the same without the talents of Cabrini's Eric LaCroix, Trenton's David O'Donnell and Roosevelt's Collin Olson.
Spring season rolled around faster than I thought possible and although it was an extremely long few weeks of weather-related delays, I was quickly faced with the fact that this school year was coming to a close very quickly.
As June drew near I started finding myself thinking of lasts. This is the last time I will see Anderson's Breanna Luba jump hurdles, the last time I will see Allen Park's Hailey Lazarek making a diving catch
on the softball field, the last time I will see Sydni Pauley pound a long ball over the fence.
It's safe to say that this senior class is by no means short on talent. I've named a few names and memories over the years. If I named them all, this may have needed to be a four-part series.
You've all graduated now and will move on from your high school playing careers. Some will continue in college, while others will not.
Your names will not be on Downriver League, Huron League and Catholic League rosters next season.
But that in no way means you will be forgotten. If nothing else (and I promise you there will be others) I will be the one remembering you. I will be sitting at games next year, sometimes day dreaming back to the past two years. When a younger player scores or or makes a play in a
way that you used to, I will be telling the viewers and other reporters, that's how so-and-so used to do it.
The 2014 seniors have given me too many memories to ever forget or ever pick a favorite.
So as you venture out into the world, know that although you are just 18-years-old, you have already made an impact. You've left everything you had on that field and from a reporter's perspective I will forever be thankful.
Best of luck seniors- you'll always be missed!
Last Updated: 6/24/2014 9:44:44 PM EST