The summer months present a challenge for our sports department. Throughout the year we focus on high school sports, and when schools aren’t in session we often have to scramble for things to write about, and give you, the reader, something that you won’t get from any other source.
That’s why most of us got into the business in the first place; we believe that local newspapers are important, that they mean something. They did to me. To this day I’ve got a shoebox in my closet with every clipping from every high school football game I ever played in.
Each year during this down time we attempt a fairly ambitious series of articles, taking a more in-depth look at one topic or another.
It’s one of the few times of the year we can devote our resources to such a project, but coming up with the right topic can be a source of consternation and debate; we want something that will appeal to our readers and will allow us to flex a little journalistic muscle.
Recently, in an unrelated conversation with my wife, I told her that nothing we do here gets as much positive response from our readers as when we have a chance to look back at the past.
"Well, why don’t you do your summer series on that?" she said.
So she gets the credit for the concept.
Also deserving of mention is longtime Times sports editor Phil Jackson, whose book, "50 Years of Cheers and Jeers," was an invaluable research tool in the early stages of this project.
We’ve also had help along the way from too many sources to mention here; some you’ll see named in upcoming stories, some you won’t. But an effort of this magnitude wouldn’t have been possible without their knowledge and input.
I should also say here that the stories we’ll tell in the upcoming weeks aren’t meant to be a comprehensive history of sports in and around Hall County. If it were, you’d be reading chapters and chapters on legendary Gainesville football coach Bobby Gruhn, our area’s only Masters winner Tommy Aaron, and literally hundreds of others who have left their mark, and whose stories will forever be entwined in the fabric of athletics in this area.
In research for this project I think we’ve all learned a lot; that goes for the transplants like me and the locals on our staff, as well.
I know personally it’s given me a greater appreciation for the rich history that’s all around us and it’s our hope that this series will do the same for you.