Thank you, Bainbridge: Post-Searchlight sports reporter Noah Watson to leave paper

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, May 29, 2024

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My name is Noah Watson, and I’m your sports reporter. I started at the Post-Searchlight in June of 2023. If you were at any Bainbridge High School or Grace Christian Academy sporting events this past year, you probably saw me down on the court or field, wearing one of my two blue polos, running around with a big camera around my neck. You got to see me having fun.

It breaks my heart to say that I won’t get to have that fun here anymore. I’m leaving the newspaper on June 5th, and this next week will be my last.

I’m moving back to my hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina. I made this decision to be closer to my family, who I grew to miss dearly during my year in town. The concept of family is woven so tightly into Bainbridge’s identity, which showed me just how much I value it.

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That’s not to say I didn’t find a sense of family here. You were all so nice, so welcoming, and I grew comfortable very quickly after moving here. I appreciate everyone who said hello when they saw me at games or around town, told me I was doing a good job or that they appreciated my work, or was simply just kind to me. The people here made my chapter in Bainbridge one I’ll look back fondly on. 

I want to thank all the players I got the opportunity to cover. They made my job fun, and they were always very respectful and kind when we interacted. I had a great time being your de facto personal photographer, and I really appreciate the love you showed me on the sidelines and on social media!

I want to thank Chris Bryant and David Mackey. The duo served as Co-Athletic Directors at BHS for the majority of my time here. They supported and encouraged me in my coverage of BHS, and I could always count on them if I needed anything.

I want to thank previous Bearcat head football coach Jeff Littleton. The high school football experience in Bainbridge and Southwest Georgia is on another level, and I feel lucky to have been a part of it this year. Littleton always treated me with respect and didn’t write me off because I was new to town/the paper. 

I want to thank Bearcat head basketball coach Kelvin Cochran. Cochran was incredibly supportive and always made an effort to show his appreciation for me. He always made time for me and was very personal and enjoyable to talk to. He was one of the first people I worked with, and he made a good first impression for the rest of my time here.

I want to thank the GCA volleyball team. They were a force to be reckoned with this year, and the intensity of their play and coaching was thrilling to watch. I want to thank Coaches Kelsey Raley and Delaney Mueller, as well as the players for making the volleyball season a highlight of my time at the paper. I’m looking forward to seeing what y’all accomplish next year! 

I want to thank Kellie Dollar. Kellie has the kindest soul and showed me a level of care and appreciation that’s second only to my mother. She always made sure I had everything I needed and supported me as much as she could. 

I also want to thank GCA Head of School Sean Johnson. Sean was incredibly welcoming and genuine. If I ever needed anything GCA-related, I could reach out to Sean, and he’d have me squared away in minutes.

I want to thank the GCA community. From parents to staff, and even students, everyone at Grace treated me with kindness and a welcoming nature that made me feel encouraged and supported. I had a blast covering the school this season.

I was spoiled to cover so much success in Bainbridge. Between BHS and GCA athletics In the 2023-2024 season, there were 16 region championships and four state championships won, multiple records broken, and 13 college signings. 

Bearcat senior Jace Weaver left it all on the track in the 300m hurdles to end his high school career with a state championship. 

Junior GCA tennis/volleyball players Kate Poitevint and Sybil Lee, and sophomore GCA runner Walker Elrod put Southwest Georgia on the map and showed the state they’re here to stay. Poitevint and Lee won their second consecutive state title in doubles tennis and they get the chance to three-peat next spring. Elrod won the state in cross country and the 3200m track race. On top of that, he broke all-time City of Bainbridge records in the 5k and 3200m races.

The Bearcat and Ladycat soccer teams had the greatest seasons in their programs’ histories. The Bearcats made it to the third round of playoffs — their deepest playoff run ever — and the Ladycats recorded the program’s first-ever undefeated regular season. On top of team success, senior Bearcat Brock Williams and junior Ladycat Addison Hill both broke BHS’s individual male and female career scoring records.

The Bearcat basketball team had a high-flying regular season that came to a head during the GHSA Region 1-4A championship game. The team hadn’t won the region in years, and Head Coach Kelvin Cochran had yet to claim a title in his Bearcat coaching career. That was until seniors AJ Grant and Zyrell Williams led Bainbridge to a miraculous comeback against Hardaway in the fourth quarter of the championship to claim the region crown. 

I mention all this to say: I feel blessed to have been your sports reporter this season. Thank you for such an enjoyable year, I’m truly going to miss the Bainbridge community. 

Outside of sports coverage, I want to thank those I was able to make genuine connections with. I saw my Post-Searchlight co-workers Ethan Reddish, John Wells and Morgan White more than anyone in my time here, and I enjoyed every second of it. 

Ethan was my reporter companion: I covered sports, he covered news. He is tirelessly dedicated to Bainbridge and the Post-Searchlight, and watching him work his hardest to bring news to the community inspired me to be a better reporter.

John was incredibly helpful. I could go to him with any problem, and he’d be able to help me through it. Morgan was always so kind to me and was a joy to share an office with.

I want to thank Memorial Hospital Director of Development Jamie Sinko. Jamie was one of the first people to welcome me to town, and she helped me find a community in Bainbridge. I moved to town on a whim. I came here alone, and I knew nobody. Jamie went out of her way to introduce me to people and help me build friendships that made my time in town that much better. Thank you to everyone I consider a friend here, I can’t say enough how much y’all’s company means to me. 

Lastly, but not least-ly, I want to thank the Lawrence family, the owners and operators of the Bean Cafe. Tiffany, Lee, Layne, Trent, Kodi, Bradley-Kate, Jake and Angel took me in as one of their own and treated me like family. I will miss skipping work and hanging out at the bean with them, it was always the highlight of that day. From Angel making me the best coffee I’ve ever had, to Jake trying his hardest to scare me as I walked back to the Post-Searchlight and Bradley-Kate encouraging me to go to church with them, I always had a good time at the Bean.

Bainbridge, you’ve helped me grow more than I thought was possible in a year. I’ve learned so much and received so much love and support from the community. I can’t thank you enough for everything you have done for me. 

Reach out!

Phone: 704-699-2244