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My first column: Excitement and dread comes with new seasons and assignments

Posted Wednesday, August 8, 2012, at 12:32 AM

Note: This column will appear here and in the Southeast Missourian newspaper each Wednesday. While the Missourian coverage area includes only a portion of the schools included on semoball, I hope to be able to travel to more events throughout the year and write about things people from all over the region can enjoy.

I should've been thinking about the upcoming year of high school sports.

I should've been thinking about the games of the year, the matchups I can't wait to watch, the players who will be missed and the players who have improved the most in the months since I last watched them play.

That's definitely what I, professional sports journalist, should have been thinking about when high school athletes and coaches started practicing for fall sports Monday morning.

But all I could think about was the pain in my side caused by circuit training, the horrific shrill of the whistle telling me it was time to run another line drill and that feeling of not being able to breathe in the stifling heat of a small gym with no air conditioning.

It's been years since I've experienced any of those things, but just like back when I was the one walking into the gym, I felt a mixture of dread and excitement for the players who walked into the first day of practice Monday. I don't know if that feeling will go away one fall, but I think I'll always remember it.

It's not often you get to dread something you're excited about or be excited about something you dread, but I think that's usually the case with preseason practices full of extra running and endless high hopes for a successful season, however that may be defined by an individual or team.

I feel a lot of that excitement and a little of that dread as I write this first of what will be a weekly column published here.

I'm excited to get to show you a little more of what I see each week and to tell you more about the people than the players and more about the men and women than the coaches.

This comes with some dread only because it goes against my years of regimented training designed to allow me to leave myself -- and my thoughts -- out of the story and because there probably always will be someone who doesn't like what I say.

For example, whenever I praise an individual player, which I sometimes will do here, I almost always get some variation of the following five responses. The same ones apply to both girls and boys, but let's just say for now that I write somewhere that I'm impressed by a boys basketball player. This is what I hear:

1. Sure he is good, but what about his teammates? Why do you personally hate every other member of the team and refuse to acknowledge that they also are awesome? Did you even watch the game or just the person scoring?

2. Did you know he secretly was a terrible person? Like, really terrible and cocky and just all kinds of horrible? He had detention just last week. You should personally hate him instead of praising him.

3. He's not good at all. You know who's good? This other player. Actually, your compliment of him is directly disrespectful to the other player, whom you obviously personally hate.

4. Why do you only care about boys basketball? If you didn't personally hate every other sport and the athletes that participate in them, you would know about some other great athletes.

5. Reserved for when I compliment a Notre Dame player (the horror, I know): Why do you always write about Notre Dame? What is your obsession with them, and why do you personally hate every other school? Also, life's not fair and neither is Notre Dame's existence.

Of course the number of people who actually have these reactions is small, and I get far more amused than bothered by the few that do share those opinions. Plus I hope I don't need to write that I don't personally hate anyone I do or do not write about.

My promise to you is to write the things I see that usually wouldn't make a story about the game and to write some things I think that I usually wouldn't share. I'm going to get out to as many events as I can featuring as many sports as I can throughout the course of the year and tell you about the people and things I find interesting. Hopefully you'll find some of them interesting as well.

What I find will be published each Wednesday in the Southeast Missourian and on my easy-to-find blog on semoball.com. You can leave me your comments and questions there, and I will be able to respond or you can reach me at rcrader@semissourian.com.

Rachel Crader is editor of the regional sports website semoball.com. Follow her on Twitter @semoball.

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Looking forward to more of this, Rachel. Captain Awesome heartily approves.

-- Posted by Captain Awesome on Wed, Aug 8, 2012, at 6:59 AM
Rachel Crader
Glad to hear that! Thanks.

Why did you have to mention Notre Dame in this article? What is your obsession with them and hatred for every other school? (This is going to be fun).

-- Posted by sideline starter on Wed, Aug 8, 2012, at 11:33 AM
Rachel Crader
You forgot to point out that it's a personal hatred, not just some run-of-the-mill sports hate. It's personal. :)

Thanks for reading!

Yeah! Why even mention No.... I can't even type their name! Ha!

Crader....I will greatly anticipate each week's article.

-- Posted by Rocket689 on Wed, Aug 8, 2012, at 11:37 AM
Rachel Crader
Thanks, Rocket. Hope I can make it worth your time each week.

This article brings back such great memories. Every time I'm in the gym with my girls, I think back to the many hours we spent sweating in that gym. We were a great team and I miss those days. Can't wait to see your future articles!

-- Posted by LHSalumni05 on Wed, Aug 8, 2012, at 8:23 PM

Dismiss the hate, embrace the love!

-- Posted by joefrank78 on Wed, Aug 8, 2012, at 8:38 PM

Terrible article, then I read the part about Notre Dame...LOVED IT!

lol, anybody else ready for basketball season yet?

-- Posted by FarmBoy06 on Sat, Aug 11, 2012, at 1:36 PM

Farm....I'm ready for basketball at all times!

-- Posted by Rocket689 on Mon, Aug 13, 2012, at 8:35 AM

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Rachel Crader is the editor of semoball.com. She graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism in May of 2009 before spending the summer covering the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas.

Highlights from Rachel's days in college include having a class down the hall from Chase Daniel and having NCAA wrestling champion Ben Askren hold the door open for her at Brady Commons, Mizzou's student center. She spent time covering Mizzou basketball, softball and baseball while working for the Columbia Missourian and is excited to return home to Southeast Missouri to cover local sports for semoball.com.

Rachel has covered three Southeast Missourian Christmas Tournaments for the Southeast Missourian and semoball.com, and she'll see you courtside again this year.