Allow me to reintroduce myself: my name is Jeffery Simmons - the writer formerly known as the Warren County sports authority.
I've been at a few games over the last three weeks, getting back into the swing of covering sports for the Standard. I'm not sure if it was that James Clark's pleas finally worked, or if I just wanted to get paid to go to the games I was already attending, but either way I've settled back into the sports desk.
It's not gone unnoticed either. In case I wasn't able to talk more in length as I've been at games, I wanted to say I've appreciated the welcome back from the community - both the good ones (most common) and the eye rolls and groans (yes, Spurs coverage is coming back!).
It's been overwhelming. Here's some of my favorite things I've overheard in the last few weeks.
One person addressed me by my moniker, saying "welcome back sports authority, we've missed you." That was cool.
"Glad to see you creeping around again" - Thanks, I think?
"Are you crazy?" - Name redacted. It may or may not have been a close relative.
"The Standard had to dig deep for a writer, huh?" - I like to think they've just been keeping the seat warm for my return, but I tend to have a high opinion of myself.
And, really, the biggest one - "Thanks for writing that about my kid. It made them feel great."
That's why I like writing sports.
There is no greater reward than knowing something in the paper put a smile on a kid's face. It's why we do what we do.
In my absence from the sports desk, that's what I missed most. I still love sports - even the Vols. But I didn't sign back up because I wanted a sounding board for why I think Butch Jones should be fired. I wanted to get back to finding great stories that uplift our athletes and coaches and compel the community to care about Warren County sports.
It's really not a hard sell. Warren County sports fans are, at the very least, resilient. Wins may not be plentiful on our gridirons, hardwoods and diamonds, but support never seems to waver. It's why I can still be recognized after three years off the sidelines. The same people are still there every week.
This is my seventh year working at the Standard and I've been proud to be a part of a group who works diligently to keep information flowing to the public. I'm also thankful for being welcomed back by the community we strive to inform.