Published: Jun 08, 2011 04:58 AM
Modified: Nov 23, 2011 03:49 AM
I may not attend any of our area high school graduations this week, but that doesn't mean I don't feel a strong connection to this year's senior class.
I joined this newspaper in the middle of the 2008 high school football season when this year's graduates were just sophomores.
And for the last three years, I've sat in the stands and watched more than who scored how many points in what quarter or who finished the contest with a team-high in assists or who made the game-winner.
I've seen them mature in more ways than adding a few extra pounds of muscle or growing a few inches in height - or in the case of some guys, a strange-looking fur on the face.
Shy sophomore teammates turned into assertive senior leaders.
They handled wins - and losses - a little bit differently than they did when they were younger.
It was apparent in their demeanor.
And those players who stammered and clichéd their way out of an awkward interview eventually became confident when I put a recorder in front of their face.
Now don't get me wrong, the on-court talent in this year's class is unmistakable and it was a heck of a lot of fun to watch, too.
The class of 2011 had two state players of the year, two individual state champions and two MVPs of state championship games.
Some of this year's seniors took their places in school or state record books.
And there are simply too many future college scholarship athletes to begin to list here.
But again, I'm always amazed by the growth these young people showed in my time here.
Groups who had been denied conference or state championships in the past rallied together to reach their goals.
This year alone, we had six team state champions.
One of them was the Apex volleyball team.
The second game I covered included a teary-eyed Kristen Harris, whose Apex volleyball team was eliminated just a game away from the state final.
It was just too neat to see them go out on top this year.
So thanks, seniors, for being a pleasure to cover.
Hopefully I've given something to you by going to these games, getting as many of your names into our paper or on our blog as I could and chronicling your many successes.
I didn't really have a "hometown" newspaper growing up, and I have been driven by that desire to give current high school students something that I did not.
You all have definitely given something back to me.
Not only have you made me feel welcome to this job but also to this area.
I thought the days of having my name chanted at a game were done, but two schools - and I have to say Cary Academy was the first - did just that this past year.
Being your sports editor - that's truly home to me.
And thanks for all the help you've given to me by joining my Facebook group that covers this area's sports, and following my Twitter account.
As you get ready for your next challenges, I guess I'll return the favor by following your future triumphs in life.
Best of luck.