My heart has finally stopped pounding and my sweat has finally been cleaned from my clothes and stashed in the closet.
I made the nearly three-hour drive to Macon where Oconee County High School defeated Upson-Lee for the Class 4A state championship last Saturday night.
As the celebration began on the sideline, I chased and raced the group of excited teenagers back and forth across Five-Star Stadium turf trying to capture their shining moment with my cameras.
It was magical, I must admit. The tears, hugs and the flat out bewildered looks I saw staring at me through my camera’s lenses. It was something out of a movie.
As journalists days like that make our job fun. It’s easy to write about the Cinderella nature of the Warriors winning four straight road games to win the state championship. My fingers just flowed as I typed up my nearly 800-word recap of the game and the nearly 800-word column I wrote as a response to what I’d just witnessed.
I admit, the Sunday after things were all said and done, I crashed. I plopped down in my bed and didn’t move. The only trip I made was from the bed, to the living room coach, to the kitchen for water.
It’s something I call the wall.
If you’ve played sports, there comes a time the season, were practice just isn’t fun. When you play in games you have little energy following the contest and you lounge for hours just in preparation for the next time you’re on the field.
When I played football this usually came around week six or seven in the high school seven. Body bruise, brain fried from new plays, classes and the four straight months of having something to do from 6 a.m. until 9 p.m.
For regular working folks, it’s best known as Wednesday.
I took the week to recoup and I lounged and I slept. I even fasted myself from watching sports. I turned on Game of Thrones as soon as I woke up (I am working my way through the show) and didn’t turn it off until it was bed time, breakfast time, dinner time or lunchtime.
I have to say it’s been delightful. After this thing kicked off way back in August of last year with the beginning of football practices I’ve been full-tilt, non-stop since. I love it. I love covering the great teams in this area.
I’ve seen some of the state’s best venues this year. I got to follow Athens Academy’s football team to Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the second year in a row. I went back to Rome for the tennis state championship to stand in the rain for a few hours only to return without a story. Last Saturday was just the last stop on what feels like a cross-country adventure on a train.
I admit it takes a toll. By the end I’m mentally tired, physically tired and drained. That’s expected of anything in life. Too much of anything is a bad thing.
This week served as my reset. I arrived in the office on Tuesday bright eyed and bushy tailed. Only to look at my calendar to realize that it was empty of meaningful (other than summer swim meets) for at least another two months. I have no place to run, no long car rides to big region games or championship photos to take.
Jeremy Johnson is the sports editor for The Oconee Enterprise. Opinions expressed are those of the writer.