IF THE HAT IS SUITABLE: Thanks for the ride, 2021 | Local sports

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

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

It was a lightning week, but such a great experience. Lots of big games, seeing teams face off each night and fans from across the country 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 hit.

Okay, so not a good start. But once that melted, it was back to the races.

The playoff basketball was there, and I drove all the miles on my truck as I hit the freeway. From here to Pittsburg County, to Tulsa, Stroud and eventually to Oklahoma City for the state basketball tournaments.

I really had a blast, but the fun was just beginning as it was time for spring sports.

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

I have covered the Pitt 8 baseball tournament, the history of the Lady Buffs soccer program playoffs, the state baseball, softball and golf tournaments, as well as the Buffs winning gold in the state track and field competition.

The sunburns that I seemed to wear all the time reminded me of both pain and affection of all that I could see accomplished by our amazing athletes in the region.

From there, I embarked on my summer plans to organize the all-time McAlester football team and write, edit and set up the annual gridiron preview magazine. It took a long time, but it was also a lot of fun digging into the story, taking a look at last season, and getting a glimpse of the excitement to come.

When August arrived, I was delighted to see all of our athletes from the region coming back in multiples. And of course, at the end of the month it was football time in high school 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 just around the corner. The annual cycle will begin again and I am delighted with all that awaits the athletes in our region over the next few months.

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

Personally, I can honestly say that my life has changed, impacted by everyone I have been surrounded by – and I am excited about what the next year has in store for me.

Happy New Year everyone !

Contact Derek Hatridge at [email protected]

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