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Growing up, there was a saying my father frequently told my brothers and me, particularly as it related to homework and chores, but also to life — work hard and play hard, but in that order.
This week, as I started as the newest sports reporter at The Wilson Times and Johnstonian News, that saying continued to appear in my head as I jump-start my first job out of college. Maybe that’s because the saying told to me over and over again in childhood is reminiscent of what I hope to accomplish in this role, too.
Before we run into each other at the ballfield, in a crowded gym or around town, there are a few things you should know about me.
The first is that I am a recent May graduate from UNC-Chapel Hill where I studied journalism and history, and worked hard to hopefully land an opportunity like this one upon which I’m embarking. Chapel Hill was good to me during those four years as I chased Tar Heel sports teams around the state for The Daily Tar Heel, the student newspaper.
That taught me that everyone, whether they be the starting quarterback, star player or assistant coach of a 4-year-old soccer team or any other, has an important story to tell.
To that end, I intend to put in the hard work essential to uncovering and telling the stories that await in Wilson and Johnston counties, as well as the surrounding areas.
Growing up in Lumberton, located in the southeastern corner of the state, I played baseball and football all the way through high school. I spent plenty of hours playing catch with my dad in the backyard, traveling the state to play games with friends and meeting plenty of new people. While I’m not playing anymore, I know this job — through sports — will lead me to meeting plenty of you. I look forward to that as the best part of the job.
On my end, my goal is to tell as many local stories as I can about all of you. I still have a collection of tattered newspaper clippings from many of my experiences that bring back special memories of my time playing sports. Maybe some of my writing can be cut out and pasted to remember your own sports memories moving forward — whatever they may be.
Now for the second part of that saying from my dad.
While I plan to work hard and do my job to the best of my ability, I don’t plan to take myself too seriously. I understand how fortunate I am to get paid for something like this. A younger Jack wouldn’t have even considered he could get paid to watch and write about sports. Now I get to do it every day.
When we do meet, I hope you find me approachable, or maybe even goofy, and I hope you come introduce yourself to me when we cross paths. After all, I don’t know anyone from here yet.
I can’t — and won’t — promise to be perfect at this. At age 22, I’ve made plenty of mistakes, and many more await me moving forward.
But what I can promise is that I’ll work hard and play hard to provide the best local sports coverage I can, and I’ll do it in that order. Along the way, I’ll learn how to get better at it.
I’m really happy to be here, and I know by keeping that old saying in mind, Wilson and Johnston counties will be good to me. From there, everything else will work itself out.