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Sports Column: Love of the game
jessica brown column
Jessica Taylor.

The Dawson County High School Tigers will be putting on their helmets and shoulder pads Friday night for their spring game against the Pickens County Dragons.

I can’t say that I’m not excited to see the Tigers in action for the first time. I do love high school football no matter where I am.

Before joining the Dawson County News, I worked for the Barrow News-Journal in Barrow County where I was fortunate enough to spend my Friday nights running up and down the sidelines of my three local teams’ stadiums. I photographed their triumphs and tribulations for 10 years before saying my goodbyes and relocating to Dawson County.

There is something magical about being on the sidelines of a high school football game. As the sports photographer I got to capture a lot of great moments at Winder-Barrow High School, Apalachee High School and Bethlehem Christian Academy.

I saw stadiums overflowing with proud parents, students and teachers. I saw the spirit section painted up with bright face paint and waving flags to support their fellow students. I saw parents with tears in their eyes as their son made his first touchdown. I saw coaches in jubilant celebration when the team got their first win during a tough losing season.

There is just something magical about high school football that has always stayed with me throughout the years.

While most people are waiting for college ball to start back up, I count down the days when I can watch young student athletes play their hearts out.

And they do it simply because they love the game.

Most high school players won’t get scholarships. They won’t play at the collegiate level, and certainly not professionally. So why play? It’s simple: they love the game. Their hearts are completely in it. They play with passion and fire that doesn’t compare to the atmosphere I’ve seen when I’ve stood on the sidelines of the Georgia Bulldogs and the Atlanta Falcons.

I think what I love most about high school athletics is that at some point we will all know someone in our lives that was a high school athlete and their eyes brighten into a smile when they talk about the glory days.

My dad was one of them. He was a football superstar in the hot, humid marsh of South Carolina in the 1980s. A proud Stag of Berkeley High School, he beams with pride when he tells me the story of his state championship in 1981.

There was my dad, number 62 on the line. He had to buy converse tennis shoes to play on the AstroTurf, and 37 years later my mom and I can attest that he still has those shoes. In 2016 the 1981 Championship team was inducted to Berkeley High’s hall of fame, giving my dad another chance to reminisce with his friends and teammates – many of whom he hadn’t seen in many years.

High school football brings communities together and breeds precious memories that will last a lifetime.

Maybe that’s the magic of high school football. It’s a time capsule to some of our greatest memories.

Every time I step on the field and I hear the sounds of the band, the cheerleaders, the crowd…I’m transported to some of my happiest moments watching my friends fight for their first win and celebrating our school’s victory as a community.

All of us were out there because we loved the game, and that game will always remind us of some of our best moments whether we are currently in high school or many years from it.

The love of that game will always stay with us, wherever we go.  

Jessica Brown is the feature and education reporter for Dawson County News. Her columns will appear periodically.