One last thing before I leave

By Michael Hamilton

Michael Hamilton

Michael Hamilton

The last year has been an absolute blast for me here at The Daily Times. I have had the pleasure to work with a bunch of talented individuals here who really strive to put out the best possible product they can on a daily basis. I have been truly blessed to work with these people the last 12 months.

However, my time here at The Daily Times has come to an end. The articles you read in this morning’s paper will be my last here as a full-time employee.

While my time here has ended, the memories I have made working here will last a lifetime.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time covering local sports for the area, over the last year, a year that has overwhelmingly been full of great accomplishments of our area’s athletes.

Several highlights immediately come to mind.

Last fall I was able to observe and cover the incredible playoff run of the Wheelersburg Pirates, who finished just a few scores shy of making an appearance in the OHSAA Division V State Football Championship game. There is something to be said for the program Rob Woodward is building in Wheelersburg and I have no doubt before he is done, the Pirates will once again be state champions in football.

During the winter sports season, I saw one of the most talented — and humble — young men make history for the Portsmouth Trojans, when he set an all-time points record that was held for over 30 years. I truly wish the best of luck to Ky’re Allison as he transitions to collegiate basketball at Marshall University and can’t wait to take my children to Huntington to watch him represent our area well.

I watched in awe as Kristie Johnson coached her team to the regional round of the girls basketball playoffs. The young women in South Webster battled with honor on the hardwood all season and their hard work paid off with a lengthy postseason run.

Speaking of postseason basketball, how about that last second basket by the East Tartans against Belpre at the Convocation Center in Athens, Ohio? The reaction to that game winning basket by the Tartans nearly blew the roof off the Convo. Don’t be surprised if those young men make another deep run this year. They had all that success last season, all without a single senior on the team.

Another basketball team I expect to see great things from are the Notre Dame Lady Titans. Coach JD McKenzie had his team well-prepared throughout the season. They had a remarkable game against the Glenwood (New Boston) Lady Tigers late in the season that saw multiple overtime periods. The SOC I will be something to watch next season in girls basketball.

There were a couple of coaches I thought really need to be commended for their efforts during the 2015-16 girls basketball season, Dusty Spradlin of Wheelersburg and Scott Caudill of Minford. Both coaches were class acts all season and spent so much time and energy on their teams, which did not go unnoticed.

Wow is the only word I can think of when reflecting on the incredible run by the Wheelersburg Lady Pirates softball team. I truly believe there wasn’t a team in the state of Ohio who could beat those young women, regardless of division. There was no weak spot on that team, as every member of the team played to full potential. Wheelersburg and the area as a whole should be proud of their accomplishment, as should the players. Never forget the 2016 State Championship season. That team deserves far more than just a banner.

The Minford Falcons were flying high on the baseball diamond in 2016. Congratulations to coach Brent Daniels and the Falcons, who nearly made a trip to Columbus in the state final four.

These last 12 months also saw a few Scioto County natives thrive on the collegiate and professional levels.

Former Portsmouth West Senator Trevon Pendleton had possibly his best game in college for the Michigan State Spartans when they battled the Ohio State Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium. If you haven’t seen his professional-level touchdown reception, I highly recommend you find it on YouTube.

Another area native witnessed his dream come true this spring when the Cincinnati Reds drafted him in the 26th round of the MLB Amateur Draft. Patrick Riehl just finished his first season in the minors, with impressive numbers.

Unfortunately, not all of the stories over this past year had happy endings. We’re quickly approaching the one-year anniversary of the death of Skip Hickman. We lost Skip far too soon, but his legacy as the “Voice of the Trojans” will live on long after his life on this Earth ended. I have many fond memories of Skip, not only as professionals, but also as a child. You will be missed my friend.

So, as I have had the opportunity to share a few lasting memories I have had during my time here, I can’t help but thank those who have really helped me during my tenure at The Daily Times.

I’d like to thank Chris Slone for first giving me the opportunity to come here. Remember to turn those headlights on the next time you leave Great American Ballpark.

Wayne Allen is an individual who spends countless hours in the office, which is deserving of commendation.

I will really miss working with Frank Lewis. He has been a joy to work with and his wisdom and advice will never be taken for granted.

One last thing before I leave, we — as a whole — need to do a better job supporting our girls sports programs. There is so much talent in this area in every sport.

I encourage everyone to go out and watch a high school or college girls soccer match. You won’t be disappointed. Go witness the self-sacrificial nature of volleyball. It will leave you amazed. During the winter, go watch the toughness it takes to succeed in girls high school basketball. You will be glad you did. Go watch the quickness of softball. I bet you’ll go back for more.

Finally, if you want to see sportsmanship at its best, I suggest you attend a track meet. There’s nothing like it.

It has been an honor to cover area sports writing about a young man signing a full-ride scholarship all the way to that one night Maggie Whitman was perfect on the mound for Notre Dame. I will miss it, that’s for sure, thank you.

Michael Hamilton Hamilton

By Michael Hamilton