Junious Smith: From freshmen to seniors, I've seen the whole career
Time flies when you're having fun.
Tuesday, Greene Central's Imajae Dodd came back from injury and helped the Rams pick up a victory against West Craven. The senior was dominant on the defensive end, racking up 10 blocks and while I interviewed him in post game, a random thought came to mind.
I've really been around for his entire career and many others.
Other than not being able to differentiate between Da Baby and Lil Baby, it's tough for people to believe I'm in my 12th year covering sports. Most of the time was spent handling business in the Fayetteville area, but with this being my fourth year in Kinston, it means all of the seniors were freshmen when I took over as a credible sportswriter.
Aren't y'all tired of me yet?
Hopefully not, because it's been an amazing stint so far with plenty to come. What’s blown my mind is the transition some of these players have made throughout the years. From precocious freshmen getting little time on varsity or starring on JV to senior leaders and everything in between, watching the development has been another positive to this job. Roles expanded for some, with players thriving through it all. Confidence is developed, not only on the playing fields, but when we do interviews.
Some of my favorite stories to write on the sports side have nothing to do with exploits on the court. The signing days are the best because it's the culmination of excellence on the field and classroom. Education can't be stressed enough and to see someone having the grades to be college eligible is always wonderful to witness, especially if I've seen them grow over an extended time frame.
One of my goals each year is to leave a positive impression among the graduating classes. There's no telling on a regular basis if it's been accomplished, but Lord knows I'm thankful for the moments. The Class of 2019 will be the first I've seen from freshman year to the next step in their lives, and it's been a blessing either way.
By the way, I figured them out and believe Da Baby is better than Lil Baby.