Graduation 2016 marks end of era

My graduation speech to my seniors of 2016
Graduation is upon us again even though it seems like only yesterday that we were just getting the 2015-16 school year started. With this graduation comes the realization that some of my kids that I have followed since junior high will no longer roam the courts and fields of prep sports and that makes me a bit sad.
You see, I got back into the high school sports scene full-time back during the 2010-11 season with newly added responsibilities of covering area prep sports for the News Exchange and this senior class were essentially babes for lack of a better term. They’re my first team to graduate I guess you might say.
I have had the honor and joy of getting to know these athletes, their parents, siblings and even grandparents and I am truly blessed beyond measure on all accounts. However, that makes it harder to let go and watch these young men and women move on to the next step in life.
Some will continue on to play sports at the next level, but most will just say goodbye to coaches and teammates who will forever hold a special place in their hearts and minds.
They will remember all the fun times on the team bus trips, the camaraderie that only can be experienced with others who have the same goals and desires for success of team and love of school, the game and each other.
There will be games and plays that will be forever etched in their minds from their “glory days” that they will reflect upon in the days to come.
I too will remember these athletes, things they said, things they did. I will remember some pretty amazing feats they accomplished on the field of play, some of the games they won and how they won them.
Most of all though, I will just remember each and every person and what a great guy or girl they were on and off the field. I will remember a kind act or a word of encouragement that I experienced or saw someone else experience.
I trust that sports has taught all my “kids” about life because some days you win and some days you lose, but you must never give up, you just keep grinding. You must get up, knock the dust off and go again and again.
And yes, these are my kids because many years ago my family passed through these same situations and circumstances with high school sports and sadly, we one day had to bid all our sports farewell.
Maybe I’m reliving my past through someone else’s child or maybe your child, but one of my main objectives in covering sports is getting to know the players and their families just to let them know that I genuinely care about them, their team, their school and their family.
So it’s a little bittersweet as I watch my former babies walk the aisle to become the graduates of 2016 since I will never again have the opportunity to share the sideline or dugout with them, but I know that they are ready to face tomorrow because they have proven themselves time and again in the face of adversity and opportunity with a winning attitude.
To my Seniors of 2016 I ask you to remember the words of Chuck Swindoll “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”
Thanks for your friendship, thanks for your allowing me to follow your exploits on the field of play, but most of all thanks for allowing me to be a small part of your busy life. May God richly bless you all.

Union County cross country results

East Union boys took first place in the 2015 Union County XC Meet on Thursday at East Union. Photo by Dennis Clayton.

East Union boys took first place in the 2015 Union County XC Meet on Thursday at East Union. Photo by Dennis Clayton.


East Union girls won the 2015 Union County XC title on Thursday. Photo by Dennis Clayton. East Union girls won the 2015 Union County XC title on Thursday. Photo by Dennis Clayton.
BY DENNIS CLAYTON
ELLISTOWN – East Union won first in the Union County Cross Country Meet in boys and girls varsity at East Union on Thursday, edging Myrtle girls and Ingomar boys to take the county title.
Savannah Shirley of West Union won the individual girls varsity race in 22:13 and Jordon Salmon of East Union won the boys individual with his time of 17:51.
Jessica Pickens of Myrtle won the junior high girls race with a time of 25:57 and Micah Fulgham of East Union won the junior high boys in 20:49.
Savannah Shirley of West Union is the 2015 Union County XC Individual Champion. Photo by Dennis Clayton.

Savannah Shirley of West Union is the 2015 Union County XC Individual Champion. Photo by Dennis Clayton.


Jordon Salmon of East Union is the 2015 Union County Boys Individual Champion. Photo by Dennis Clayton.

Jordon Salmon of East Union is the 2015 Union County Boys Individual Champion. Photo by Dennis Clayton.


Jessica Pickens of Myrtle is the 2015 Union County Junior High Girls Champion.

Jessica Pickens of Myrtle is the 2015 Union County Junior High Girls Champion.


Micah Fulgham of East Union is the 2015 Union County Junior High Boys Champion.

Micah Fulgham of East Union is the 2015 Union County Junior High Boys Champion.


Top finishers in the 2015 Union County Cross Country Meet.

Top finishers in the 2015 Union County Cross Country Meet.