IF THE HAT FITS: Becoming a Buffs fan all over again

In this job, you’re usually on the run from August to May. But it’s nice to take a little time to slow down and assess your surroundings.

With the turn of this weekend, we are now fully staring down the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. So, in the spirit of the holiday, I wanted to talk about a few things that I’m thankful for this year.

Firstly, I’m thankful to be in this job. It’s really stressful at times — okay, a lot of the time. But I truly enjoy the opportunity to tell the stories of the amazing local people in this area who also happen to be involved in athletics.

Just over the last couple of weeks, I’ve seen signings to play college athletics from high school seniors in multiple sports across the area. I’ve also had the opportunity to highlight two teams — McAlester’s pom and cheer squads — that don’t always get a spotlight but work just as hard as teams in other sports.

Plus, I’ve been able to join the ride on incredible seasons that give way to postseason journeys. Which brings me to the second thing I’m thankful for — being along for the ride.

It’d be pretty easy for coaches and schools to tell me to buzz off when I show up. But instead, I’m welcomed with open arms and have forged a lot of great relationships as well.

I’ve connected with many great coaches, athletes, administrators, and parents throughout my tenure. I think I meet more and more with every single outing. And they are quick to lend any help they can, which makes my job as a one-man sports department a little bit easier.

And of course, I’m thankful for you — our readers.

Without you, none of this would be possible. Sure, writing is its own reward. But without the reader, I’m like an musician without an audience, an artist without an outlet, or a poet without a pen.

Yes, the criticisms come just as much (if not more) than the praises, but I think both are equally important. Fresh eyes from the outside looking in help me mold my writing to be the best it can be while also providing great local content in our pages.

I’m thankful to work in journalism. It’s the most difficult, emotionally and physically draining thing I have ever done. But it’s also the most rewarding that has brought me hope, joy, and a little bit of purpose in the world.

So thank you, from the bottom of my heart. And I hope you all have a wonderful, happy, belly and heart-filling Thanksgiving.

Contact Derek Hatridge at dhatridge@mcalesternews.com.

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