My best day off

By Staff
Charles Prince, Sports Editor
Your day off is supposed to be for relaxing around the house, or shopping, or yard work or maybe playing a round of golf or other sporting activity. My day off each week is Thursday. On March 11, a Thursday, I didn't spend it around the house. I was working.
I was not working at the paper in Hartselle, but working for the athletes I cover.
I drove to Montgomery that Thursday morning for a meeting of the Alabama Sports Writers Association. It was the date selected to pick the All-State basketball team for 2004.
Many fine writers from around the state were present. Greg Dewalt of The Decatur Daily was there, also Mike Easterling of The Huntsville Times and Scott Turner of The Times Daily in Florence. The chairman of the ASWA Ron Ingram of The Birmingham News was also there.
Writers from just about every part of Alabama from Mobile to Fort Payne and from Auburn to Dothan and everywhere in between.
We were all there for the same reason. We wanted to make sure that deserving athletes in our area received the recognition they were due.
For many of the writers it was not their day off, it was another workday. They were there knowing they would have to get back to their papers later that day and catch up on their work in the office.
Each writer presented a case why the players he nominated should be included on the team. Player statistics were discussed and analyzed. Then came a vote, who would be on the first team, who would be on the second, who would be honorable mention and who would be nominated but left off the team? All those questions were settled by majority vote.
The system is not perfect, but it's the best we have.
In some cases 30 or more players are nominated in a school class such as 2A. Of those 30 only five make the first and second teams for a total of 10. Honorable mention picks can add five or six more players to the team. The rest of the players miss out on being named to the team.
Now consider this, most of the classifications in Alabama have 50 to 60 schools playing basketball. For example in Class 2A has 57 schools playing basketball, each team has 10 or 12 players, so there are well over 600 players in that class alone. Therefore, it's quite an achievement for the players who make the team.
But if those sports writers who meet in Montgomery had not been there, some deserving players may been left off the team.
I'm glad I spent my off day at that meeting because three local players were named to the team.
Lauren Drake of Hartselle, Maegan Price of Bethel Baptist and Tiffany Smith of Priceville all were named honorable mention.
That made the long drive down there well worth it for me. It was my best day off so far this year.

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