It’s hard to believe, but 25 years ago this month I became a full-time newspaperman, taking an entry-level sportswriting job down in Valdosta, Georgia — the high school football mecca just above the Florida state line.

Granted, I’d had part-time newspaper gigs for a couple of years before that as a sportswriter in Americus and Montezuma, but Valdosta was the first real job. It was owned by a company called Thomson Newspapers back then, which had a reputation for being cheap and paying terribly — which I found to be completely, 100 percent true.

But those couple of years in Valdosta were where I truly got my on-the-job training in such newspaper basics as pagination, eating at 24-7 diners, cussing and trash-can kicking. Valdosta truly is a beautiful community with some small-town charm and big-city conveniences, but not too much of either. And there’s nothing like a football Friday night in Valdosta, where I spent an awful lot of time at Martin Stadium and Hyder-Bazemore Field.

That was a long time ago, and I’ve forgotten more than I remember about those days, but there are a lot of folks that I won’t forget from those days, including: Continue reading