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I’ll miss the football sideline

Published 11:22am Wednesday, January 8, 2014

I’m going to miss the sideline. The atmosphere of Friday night high school football is always electric. The marching bands, the crowds and the food are all things I savor about covering football down here in Alabama.

I will miss the smell of the grass, the sound of the whistles and the sight of each team trying to run plays to confuse the other side. Memories of football games will be something I cherish.

I’ve gotten to know a lot of coaches over my six years covering sports for three different newspapers, and let me tell you, coaches can be a strange bunch. Let’s start with the phenomenon known as coach-speak.

Coach-speak is a series of quotes made by coaches that could almost be attributed to any coach of any sport at any time. Classic examples of coach-speak include: “We’re going to take it one game at a time,” or “They played with more heart than we did,” or still “We just need to go back to the drawing board.”

Coach-speak not only affects high school coaches, but also can hit the highest levels of sport. Do yourself a favor, watch a game live on television and see if you can predict what a coach my say during a halftime interview. It’s great fun.

I always joked with colleagues that coach-speak actually makes my job easier because it helps me to understand the abbreviations I make in my notebook.

Some coaches are also more temperamental than others. Atmore area coaches are pretty understanding, though. I know this because I’ve asked each of them more than one dumb question in my tenure with the newspaper and all just seem to shrug it off and go about their business.

That hasn’t always been the case throughout my career covering football. One coach at a paper I worked for previously was notorious for snapping at reporters who asked dumb questions. It was so bad that I was given this team to cover as part of my beat and was warned about this coach before I ever even took the sideline.

Luckily for me, in the two seasons I covered the team they lost only three games in the regular season and playoffs. He never snapped at me.

I will miss covering basketball as well. In six years of working for newspapers I’ve been fortunate to cover two teams that went on to the state final four — this includes last year’s Blue Devils.

Although the Blue Devils came up short against Madison County last year in Class 4A, I still enjoyed covering the win streak that led to their playoff run.

Atmore area baseball was also very fun to cover. Northview’s team almost made the state final four last season, which meant of course that this reporter would have schlepped on down to Fort Myers, Fla., to cover the team.

ECHS’s baseball team made improvements from the previous year and the EA Cougars were also exciting to watch.

I enjoyed covering softball here, but it’s much harder to cover than baseball because everything is faster. Covering softball was like covering baseball if everything was double speed. EA, Atmore Christian School, ECHS and Northview all had excellent teams last season.

Volleyball was a sport I learned more about, while here in Atmore. Of the sports I cover, volleyball is probably the weakest for me, based on my knowledge of it. I enjoyed learning more about the sport from the local coaches and watching as Northview and EA had very good seasons, but fell just short in the playoffs.

Of course, I write all this as a farewell to sports reporting and look forward to a career change. I will be leaving The Atmore Advance, but I will very much remain in the field of sports. I will still be dealing with coaches, athletes and the media every day.

I’ve enjoyed my time in Atmore, both reporting on news and sports and I don’t regret a single minute I spent with the wonderful people of this city. I’m from neighboring Baldwin County and attended high school in Bay Minette. That alone was enough for folks around here to consider me local and I appreciate it deeply.

I wish the best of luck to all the teams I’ve covered here and I hope to hear about more state championships in the future. I will be following the teams.

I will miss the area, but I will never forget the kindness I found here. Also, I’ll be nearby, so I’ll visit often.

 

Dale Liesch is a news reporter for The Atmore Advance. He can be reached at dale.liesch@atmoreadvance.com

 

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