Thanks for the ride, 2021


December 31 – Here it is – the last day of 2021. And what a road it was to get here.

I started the year diving headfirst into local basketball coverage and preparing for my first Pitt 8 tournament since taking the job.

It was a whirlwind week, but such a great experience. Lots of big games, seeing teams go head-to-head every night and fans from across the county flocking to host schools to support their teams.

But unfortunately, at the end of the tournament last year, I was benched for two weeks with COVID-19. Once I was cleared – winter weather hit.

Well, that’s not a good start. But once that melted, it was back to the races.

Playoff basketball was here, and I put all the miles on my truck as I hit the highway. From here in Pittsburg County, to Tulsa, Stroud and eventually Oklahoma City for state basketball tournaments.

I had an absolute blast, but the fun was just getting started as it was time for spring sports.

The weather has warmed up, and so has the action on the baseball and softball fields, the football field, the track and field, the golf course – you get the idea.

I’ve covered the Pitt 8 baseball tournament, the playoff history of the Lady Buffs football program, the state’s baseball, softball and golf tournaments, as well as the Buffs winning gold at the state athletic meet.

The sunburns that I seemed to continually layer on served as painful but loving reminders of all that I have seen accomplished by our incredible athletes in the region.

From there, I began my summer projects: organizing the all-time McAlester football team and writing, editing and setting up the annual grill preview magazine. It took a lot of time, but it was also a lot of fun to dig into the story, take a look back at last season, and get a glimpse of the excitement that was yet to come.

When August rolled around, I was thrilled to see all the athletes from our region coming back again and again. And of course, at the end of the month, it was high school football time again.

I finally took some time for myself and my family over Christmas week, but now I’m recharged and ready to start all over again in 2022.

Basketball and wrestling are well advanced and spring sports are fast approaching. The annual cycle will begin again and I am excited for all that awaits our athletes in the region in the months to come.

Thank you to everyone who helped make 2021 so memorable. It’s been a long and busy year for all of us, but a lot of great things have happened as well, and our athletes and teams across the region have certainly raised the bar.

Personally, I can honestly say that my life has been changed, impacted by everyone around me – and I’m excited for what the next year has in store for me.

Happy New Year everyone !

Contact Derek Hatridge at dhatridge@mcalesternews.com.

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