Just over a year ago, I was skeptical to say the least. I was sitting down in one of the meeting rooms in the offices here on Warwick Avenue, meeting with William Geoghegan, the sports editor, and John Howell, the publisher of the Beacon. They were interviewing me for the vacant sports reporter position, and I wanted the job. But again, I was skeptical. I had just graduated from Clemson University in South Carolina two months earlier, where I had spent the last two years covering the school’s Division I college athletics as well as some of the premier interscholastic sports in the country. Now I was back where I grew up, in Rhode Island. In the same way that moving to South Carolina was a shock originally, so was moving back up here. I had grown used to everything in the South, specifically as it related to my job. In fact, I wrestled with the question of even moving back up here at all. I missed my family and friends, but I had created my own niche down there, and I thought my career path would keep me there. I interviewed at a daily newspaper in Georgia, where the University of Georgia was king. The Atlanta Falcons training camp took place right down the street, and the paper provided full coverage. That sort of dynamic was where I saw myself. It has to go both ways, though, and that paper didn’t see me in the same light, so I started to look at jobs again. I saw the opening at the Beacon and, with a little bit of deliberation, I decided to send over my resume Deciding to apply here wasn’t as easy as I made it out to be in my opening column (see “This ‘Decision’ turned out to be an easy one” on July 22). I didn’t lie when I wrote that, I just didn’t tell the whole story. You see, there were two primary hang-ups. The first was moving from a five-times-a-week paper, which was what I wrote for in South Carolina, to a twice-weekly paper. I didn’t know how it worked. I was taught in all my journalism classes about the importance of immediacy in the media. You hear all the time about the race to be first. I didn’t know if that would be possible with a paper that wasn’t producing news on an every day basis. The second hang-up was the quality of the sports I would be covering. There would be no college sports, and the high school sports would be a step down. Players moving on to Division I colleges would be the exception, not the norm. What’s the expression about having tasted the caviar? Well, I thought I already had, and I wasn’t sure if I could go back. I guess I had become something of a sports snob. That’s really why I was so skeptical. And it wasn’t until about two months into this job, when football season was in full swing and I was starting to get the feel for the local sports scene and the new job that I realized how wrong I was. This was no step down. At the worst it was a step to the right or to the left. At the best, it was a step up. When I started writing in college, and I decided that this line of work was something that I wanted to pursue as a career, the only thing that mattered to me was covering events that I perceived to be important. Here, I’ve found out that my initial perception isn’t really what the deciding factor between what is important and what isn’t. I would never have thought that a high school football game in Rhode Island would be important enough to bring grown men to tears, which is what happened after Hendricken won the Division I Super Bowl in December. I never thought that enough people cared to shower me with emails, both good and bad, when I wrote a column about the state of the Warwick Vets athletic program a few months back. And I certainly never thought that I would get wrapped up in a sport like volleyball, which I found myself thoroughly enjoying every second of during this past spring. I think what I really found out, though, is that the sports are as important as the community wants them to be. Is the quality of Rhode Island Little League baseball as good as that of Division I college baseball? No, of course not, but when I watched the Cranston Western 12-year-old all-star team win the district title this past summer, I wasn’t thinking about that. I was caught up in the moment, because it was quite a moment for a lot of people. As far as immediacy goes, we still do a pretty good job with that. Sometimes the news is a few days late coming out, but the majority of the time we’re the only paper carrying it anyway. There isn’t as much pressure on winning the race to be first, though when there occasionally is, we make sure to throw our hat in the ring. Whether or not I had a right to be skeptical, applying for this job, sitting down in that meeting room and eventually accepting the position were three of the smartest decisions I could have made. The quality of play is truly much higher than I thought it would be, and the number of people that care about these sports is staggeringly higher than I thought it would be. If nothing else, I know now that the importance of sports expands well beyond the top of the heap. It doesn’t seem like 13 months ago that I was sitting in that meeting room, but this past year or so has gone by faster than any other year in my life. I think that means it was a good one. And maybe I still haven’t tasted the caviar, but this is a whole lot closer to it than I gave it credit for at the start. I’m not very skeptical anymore.
Kevin Pomeroy is the assistant sports editor at the Warwick Beacon. He can be reached at 732-3100 and email@example.com