Valdosta Daily Times

Local Sports

January 22, 2014

Wachter: Looking for a special place

While covering the Thomasville-Thomas County Sports Hall of Fame, former Thomasville High School football coach George Bobo put into words what anyone that has lived in the Rose City knows to be true.

“Thomasville is a special place,” Bobo told me. “This is the most special place there is.

“Everything here is first class because of the expectations. People here make sure everything is done first class.”

Thomasville, where I originally moved in 2005, was where I first was introduced to the ritual that is south Georgia football, and the importance it plays within a community. Something about seeing a practice field lined with adults at 12:01 a.m. on a worknight does that for you. Thomasville was also where I met my wife of five years. And Thomasville is where a small south Georgia town can make a sports writer from Missouri feel at home.

But as special as Thomasville and south Georgia is, my wife Stasi and I moved to Meridian, Miss., in Nov. 2008 to take advantage of a new opportunity at the newspaper there. And Meridian became special to us, too. Little more than a year later, the best Christmas present I will ever receive came a day later when our daughter was born. Three years later, her brother followed.

But a year ago, when we had the chance to return “home,” and the chance to live close to my wife’s family, it was reason enough to move again. Thomasville and south Georgia is that special.

But live anywhere in south Georgia, and it doesn’t take long to hear all about Valdosta. There’s just something about Winnersville.

So, even though I fully agree with Bobo about Thomasville — after all I agreed to move there and work there twice — when the opportunity arose to join The Valdosta Daily Times as the sports editor, it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.

There may not be a better — or more special — place in south Georgia for a sports writer/editor. You have the winningest high school football program of all time in Valdosta High and the hallowed ground that is Cleveland Field. Add in fellow powerhouse and cross-town rival Lowndes and there are already enough stories to keep a sports department busy. Add in the success at Valwood and the addition of a football program at Georgia Christian. Not to mention Valdosta State and its usual deep playoff runs — that alone has me excited to get started, and we haven’t even touched any of the other sports. Or even left Lowndes County.

I can’t wait to get a better understanding of what Maurice Freeman does at Brooks County, to see how Cook adjusts to its move to Class AAA (for football) and Class AAAA (in all other sports), and to talk to the legendary Ed Pilcher at Berrien about some dadgum football again.

And I'm sure Winnersville will prove to be special in its own right. I'm excited to be here and can't wait to get to know the community.

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