A great 40-year ride

Published 1:55 pm Tuesday, April 13, 2010

What a ride.

That was my thought recently when my mind raced back through many of the highlights of my 40 years as sports editor of this fine newspaper.

I had been looking for a job in journalism for nearly eight months after graduating from West Georgia College in August 1969 when one day I decided to drive over to Bainbridge from my home in Cairo.

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I first went to the state employment agency and they told me there was an opening at The Post-Searchlight. I immediately went to the newspaper and filled out an application.

The next day, my dear friend and former publisher Sam Griffin called me at my dear late father’s drive in restaurant in Cairo.

“Joe, the job we had open is filled, but I like your application,” he said. “Can you come over tomorrow for an interview?”

“Yes sir,” I said hardly being able to contain my enthusiasm.

I was here bright and early the next morning. Sam and his dear late father, former Georgia Gov. Marvin Griffin, took a chance on a young college graduate with no experience that day in April 1970 and I’ve been covering the Bainbridge sports beat ever since.

I am also grateful to current publisher Jeff Findley and Boone Newspapers for their great support the past two years.

I have truly been blessed to have had the opportunity to cover coaches and young athletes in Decatur County for so many years.

Like any other sports fan, I enjoy college and professional sports, but high school and amateur sports are really my favorites.

Those athletes are not playing on a full athletic college scholarship or for six-figure or million-dollar professional contracts.

They are instead playing for pride and the honor they bring to their school, their city and their county.

In last Saturday’s and today’s paper I have featured three more of those Bainbridge High School Bearcats student athletes who have gone on to excel at the college level.

On Thursday we featured former Bearcat linebacker Darryl Gamble, who has successfully made the switch from inside to outside linebacker during University of Georgia Bulldogs spring practice.

Today we are featuring former Bearcats basketball forward Chris Watson, who has signed a basketball scholarship with the Florida A&M University Rattlers after two All-Conference seasons with the Pensacola, Fla., College Titans.

We are also featuring former Bearcats quarterback and defensive back Nick Williams, who came up from his linebacker position to make 7 tackles in the University of Georgia Bulldogs annual G Day Game Saturday in Athens.

Yes, it’s been a great 40-year run, and I am eternally grateful to Sam, Mary Ann, Gov. Griffin, Jeff Findley and all the fine people at Boone Newspapers for making it possible.