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Recent teams, memories worth celebrating

Carmen’s Column

A highlight of my recent years in the Chautauqua County sports world was when I finally got my own “Ron Szot photo.” Ron surprised me with this photo after I finished a post-game interview with Fredonia baseball coach Vince Gullo in Fredonia last May. Photo by Ron Szot.

For more than two months, the sports world – internationally, nationally and locally – has been shut down by the coronavirus. Despite that, there are many recent memories that I have worth sharing.

It feels weird to write a story about myself, for once, after so much time spent sharing news about the lives of so many others. From my first college course studying journalism at Northern Arizona University, I was taught “You are not the story, what you’re sharing with the audience is.” Since then, I’ve always tried to stay out of things as much as possible.

The reason I’m choosing to write this column is simple: I have felt like more than what a “textbook journalist.”

I think back to memories like standing on the sidelines at a Sectional Final girls soccer game in pouring rain, that turned to sleet and then snow, in conditions so cold that the gum I was chewing became so hardened it chipped my tooth, watching as the Westfield/Brocton Lady Wolverines played through four overtimes and a shootout to determine which team would advance in the bracket. Through all the struggles the weather presented, I never once wished I was sitting in the press box with the other media members.

I remember driving more than 90 minutes on a Saturday morning to watch the Fredonia Hillbillies boys basketball team take on the No. 1 seed Medina, in a game where a Fredonia player was pushed in the back by a fan right in front of me, and I had to hold back the urge to run over to where they were.

I think back to hugging Brocton baseball coaches and players through tears in Binghamton back-to-back years, to seeing the mother of Westfield coach Bob North handed flowers on Senior Night in the gym I had some of my own favorite memories as a child in at Westfield Academy, to watching the Dunkirk Lady Marauders put together one of the best runs in school history this past basketball season. I had no idea at that point it would be their final game this year.

The thing that can’t be measured by any achievement is how it feels to be recognized and appreciated the minute I walk into a gym or onto a field. There are plenty of moments to treasure over the years in local sports. The teams, players, coaches and fans. Every season and game is a journey. And documenting those victories and accomplishments are something we, and I, will never forget.

To all who have been part of these amazing rides, thanks for the memories.

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