As a kid, reading the Journal Star was always a morning reward.
Being an early riser led to the discovery that getting up first in a household of six won the prize of unrolling that green rubber band off the newsprint and getting the initial crack at that day’s edition of the daily miracle.
At first, it was only reading the comics, and then scanning the television guide for a potential evening treat.
Sports slowly became the obsession shortly into grade school: columns, features, game stories. And box scores — everything in such small, agate type that made being a young fan in the pre-internet age more entrenched in this new world of the NBA, NFL, Major League Baseball and college football.
But nothing could beat high school sports.
Never did the athletes seem so accessible. Or so close.
Those Saturday mornings in the fall meant reading the game stories from a jam-packed night of football across central Illinois from Peoria to Metamora to Chillicothe to Canton and almost everywhere in between. Wednesdays in the winter brought a slew of new basketball scores from the old Mid-State 6 to the Mid-Illini, Tri-County and Prairieland conferences.
Today, those teams, athletes and sports will once again receive full-time coverage. Maybe not like some have grown accustomed to from years past. Those days are long gone with the current writing staff of two.
However, an unlimited effort and dedication to prep sports will be given, doing the best possible job to make sure those stories are told about the sons, daughters, nephews, nieces, grandchildren, friends or neighbor kids excelling in their athletic endeavors. Or, as sports editor Wes Huett puts it, “writing about sports is writing about people.”
Take Dave Eminian’s tale of a 13-year-old, 300-pound, 6-foot-4 football player with Division I interest, which gives the readers just a taste of what to expect during high school football season. The reporters may be few in numbers, but that doesn’t mean Friday night lights aren’t a priority.
Plenty of stories, starting this week with the first official day on the gridiron, are on their way to those passionate football fans. Look for features on players, strategy from coaches, weekly schedules (and scores), top games, breaking news and much more.
This coverage won’t be limited to football. Practices for all fall sports — cross country, golf, girls tennis, boys soccer, girls swimming and diving and volleyball — also began Monday.
Autumn will slowly change to winter, when basketball, wrestling and more swimming will be here. Springtime, of course, means baseball, softball and track and field.
So, give yourself a reward — new subscribers can snag six-month unlimited digital access for $1. The same amount it costs to grab a freshly popped bag of corn at halftime of high school football games throughout central Illinois.
Adam Duvall is a Journal Star sports reporter. Email him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @AdamDuvall.