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Chris Gay: The search is on for the crystal ball

Posted: March 5, 2017 - 12:37am

I need your help.

I've misplaced my magical crystal ball, the one that tells me in advance what and when things take place. I know it's around this office somewhere. Or maybe it's at the house. Or maybe I left it at a sporting event.

While the crystal ball doesn't reveal lottery numbers (sorry, folks), it does tell me things like when coaches get certain milestone victories or when teams are going to notch "big" wins over their opponents. It really has been fantastic to have throughout my career. Unfortunately, it's nowhere to be found now.

If I had my magical crystal ball, I would've seen that Harlem baseball coach Jimmie Lewis was going to notch win No. 700 on Wednesday. It's a shame I went the day before to Harlem. Had I known better, I would've skipped the Tuesday affair and gone instead Wednesday to the contest at Grovetown. This is what happens when the crystal ball goes missing.

Thankfully, there are some of you who care enough to call the sports desk the day of an event to make us aware of things. We sports writers certainly appreciate the two to three hours notice. It's not like we have planners and actually schedule things in advance.

We received an email at the paper at 2:57 p.m. Tuesday about a "big" girls soccer match a few hours later at Harlem. Sadly, that was the one day I actually had something planned - the Harlem baseball game when Jimmie took his second shot at reaching the milestone. Too bad I misplaced the crystal ball.

This might sound crazy, but I have planned out the next few weeks. There are seven Columbia County high schools that play baseball, soccer, lacrosse, golf, tennis, track and field and even softball (Augusta Christian) this time of year. Trying to give proper coverage to spring sports teams is an impossible, unwinnable balancing act. (Side note: I have an English minor - probably the weakest English minor ever from Augusta University. I wonder if the phrase "fighting a losing battle" comes from Don Quixote tilting at windmills in the Miguel de Cervantes story from the early 1600s. If someone has a definitive answer, please email me: chris.gay@augustachronicle.com).

In the coming weeks, I'm planning to cover a multitude of sports - and yes, I know all about the big TaxSlayer Border Classic Soccer Invitational in the middle of Gridlock Central at Blanchard Woods Park. Getting there should be fun. And during this time frame, I'm planning to not only cover sports, but also help customers, record property transfers, and much more while my co-worker, Abbigail, goes off to get married. (Congrats, Abbi!)

This month should be a ton of fun. Fortunately, if I don't find the crystal ball soon, I have you wonderful folks to rely on. (And yes, I just ended a sentence with a preposition.) I know you guys will help keep me on my toes. Some of you have my cell phone number. I just gave you my email address (see above). Feel free to contact me if you desire.

And feel free to throw out that "All you do is cover Greenbrier" line. Boy, that never gets old. That's as brilliant as when Democrats compare any and every Republican to Hitler.

Bless your hearts for thinking all we do is cover Greenbrier. It makes sense. Greenbrier is one of the four largest schools in the county. But since I moved out here a little more than a year ago to Curb Central, I've covered a ton of Grovetown girls basketball, Lakeside tennis, Evans football and Augusta Prep girls soccer. And I've tried to give ample coverage to Augusta Christian, as well as Harlem, which has received quite a bit of mileage from winning a state softball championship.

When teams win, they get more coverage, whether those teams reside at Greenbrier or any other county school. The farther teams go in the playoffs, the more coverage they get. Pretty simple formula.

But if you want to think all we do is cover Greenbrier, then fine. Some of you probably think school board member Mike Sleeper is handling this whole fiasco about his military record well, too. It's been more than a month and he still hasn't cleared up this matter. As Judge Elihu Smails said in Caddyshack: Well, we're waiting!

(If any of you have a PR disaster you need to do several things. First, get in front of the issue immediately and set the record straight. Second, apologize profusely. The longer you try to avoid controversy, the longer the unwanted issue will linger. If you can't clear up your controversy in a rapid manner, you will be deemed guilty in the all-important court of public opinion - whether you're guilty or not. The good folks in local media (TV, radio, print) are there to let you tell your side of the story. If you refuse to do so, it makes you look bad.)

Getting back to sports, I would've liked to have seen Jimmie get win No. 700. Thanks to some of you for giving me a heads up a few weeks ago about him going for the milestone. My Aunt Hattie Lee - a wonderful person - knew Jimmie as a youth and was a big supporter of him and his program for many years. Jimmie is a great guy, fantastic coach.

I'm happy he picked up his benchmark victory on his third try. I wish we had enough resources where I could've kept chasing him until he finally got No. 700, but it didn't work out. Instead, I wrote a feature on him before the milestone and was there Tuesday night.

I know some of you are unhappy I wasn't there to record the moment, and I certainly understand. We'll catch up in the near future when there's another big event or landmark victory on the horizon. Until then, I have to search for my magical crystal ball.


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Crystal Balls

First off, I want to thank you for taking the time to cover Columbia County sports. We take them pretty seriously and there isn't a single one of us who doesn't like to see their favorite school getting some recognition. We have a lot of very dedicated coaches, parent volunteers, and outstanding young men and women student-athletes all of whom are deserving of praise.

Second, I'd like to invite you to cover just a little bit of Harlem girls soccer. I'm a little bit prejudiced because my daughter Katie is having an outstanding season. But, as I remind her, soccer is a team sport and the entire team is enjoying tremendous success. That "big" game you missed last week was against the #3 ranked school in class AA -- a game Harlem won 3-0 on two goals by freshman Chloe Weiss (with assists from Katie Essick) and a goal by senior Katie Essick (with an assist from sophomore Kaylie Andrews). As a result of that win Harlem girls jumped from unranked to #6 in the state for class AA in this week's Georgia EurosportScoreboard rankings. By the way, Harlem boys aren't too shabby either, they're also ranked #6 in the state.

Third, I know we Harlem folk tend to be a bit over sensitive when all the coverage is out there in the Evans area. They have bigger schools and they are doing great things. On top of that a lot of people still need their GPS to find Harlem. But, we do have this year's state champion girls softball team, the second winningest area baseball coach, and that daughter of mine -- she is battling for the scoring lead against all girls at all levels for the state's top scorer this year. So, we sort of feel we've got a reason to be proud.

Lastly, there's another "big" soccer game coming this Friday at Harlem where another 4AA power is coming to town. Glenn Hills went undefeated last year in region play and is undefeated so far this year as well. They probably feel like we do here in Harlem because they aren't getting much respect from the polls. They feature an all-area midfielder and one of last years top scorers in the state, senior Jasmine Santiago. It will be one of the best area games of the year. You should try to make it.