Off the Bench: Yield to oncoming sports editor still learning the highways

By DON WALLACE, News-Telegram Sports Editor

Aug. 20, 2008 - Since I have always loved sports, I feel like I am in the right place.

I already feel like I am surrounded by diehard fans and supporters

of community athletics.

When I saw a Sulphur Springs ISD truck decorated with a blue and gold Cats logo, I knew I was in the land of strong local support.

I saw the crowds in the misting rain watching football practice on Monday. People here are excited about sports as far as I can tell.

You are preaching to the choir on that. As a husband and parent of two, I realize the youth are our future and it is very important to support and back them in a positive way.

The people of Sulphur Springs have certainly made a good first

impression on me. I hope I will do the same with you. This is just my fourth story in the News-Telegram, so you might wait a while to form an opinion. But I promise you I am a nice guy doing my best to cover the sporting

events in the area.

My name is Don Wallace and I am trying to fill the huge shoes of sports editor Bobby "Butch" Burney. That's a tall task indeed and I realize it. He has set an incredibly high standard.

Instead of trying to be another Butch, which would be impossible, I will just do things the best way I know how. I've been in the newspaper business for 30 years and I think I have a good handle on what makes good local sports coverage.

I come to Sulphur Springs from Jacksonville, about 100 miles south of here. I probably spent more time at the Tomato Bowl than I did my house over the many years. I was employed there at the Jacksonville Daily

Progress as sports editor. I am a native of Rusk, now living outside

of Cherokee County for the first time in my life.

But now I am in Hopkins County, trying to find my way around and not get in the way too much.

I can certainly say I have been met with smiles and some very helpful

people as I learn my way around the area. Some were even cheerful as I tried to whip a U-turn on Gilmer Street. Many people have been kind to me

and I appreciate it, especially the cars I met almost head-on when I made a wrong turn on a one-way street. Finding and following directions has never

been my strong point.

But I found my way to Sulphur Springs and I am glad I did.

My only existing contact in town, turned out to be a key one indeed. John and Christie McCullough are very nice people I met years ago when they worked for Jacksonville ISD. Back then John was a baseball coach and Christie was the instructor for the Cherokee Charmers. Who would have

thought our paths would cross many years later. John is now the

SSHS principal and Christie is the drill team instructor for the Blue Blazes drill team. I chalk that up to good things happening to good people.

The McCullough's are very kind and considerate people who have been very helpful to us. My wife will be working at the high school and my son will be a sophomore student. He's attending his first school outside of Jacksonville, but heck, he's 15 and kids adapt quickly. Maybe quicker than old grey-bearded sports editor.

I look forward to learning my way around as I cover the teams in this area.

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