Now, say it ain’t so Joe. You can’t be retiring from your job at the Kentucky New Era. Surely I am not so old that I saw you begin your career as a sports writer and then end it as the sports editor. But alas, I know it to be true since I read your farewell column just the other day.
If you are a Cadiz Record reader only and you do not subscribe to the Kentucky New Era, I want to tell you about the Joe Wilson I referred to above. Even though he wrote from a desk in Hopkinsville, he did countless stories about Trigg County’s athletic teams as well as feature columns on Trigg County athletes. Also, I want to give you another side of how the coach/writer relationship can be contrary to how the national media always portrays it.
Joe Wilson began writing for the New Era 19 years ago. I was 11 years into my coaching career at the time. Now, everything you hear in the national media is about how coaches are not supposed to get along well with writers. Take Bobby Knight and his famous battles with the media for example. It seems like some of the mega-rich big-time coaches hate fielding media questions. On the smaller, local level, it can be different. After years of working with the same writer, he can become like family. That is how I think of Joe Wilson.
In my dealings with Joe, he was always patient and kind. He was professional and dependable. Joe was also forgiving if a score didn’t get called in on time by an overworked coach. Joe also seemed to understand how stressed coaches could get and how busy we were. Many times after a road game, I would have to get an assistant coach to call in the score and stats because I would be driving the bus home. Joe understood.
The Kentucky New Era is the closest daily paper to Trigg County. It has a substantial readership since it covers Christian, Trigg, Caldwell and Todd counties as well as others. Therefore it always, at least to me, gave an event a big-time feel when Joe Wilson came down to cover it. And cover them he did. Joe never let me down. For example, he always without fail made it down to cover all of our basketball players signing their scholarship papers to play in college. That was much appreciated.
During those 19 years of our working relationship as coach and writer, we both saw our lives change. Children were born, children grew up, anniversaries piled up and a marriage ended. A father died. Joe and I were able to talk about those life experiences and genuinely care about what happened to each other.
I will always treasure the column Joe wrote about my family back in 2007. Both of my sons, Zack and Zeke, started on the Jeff Embrey coached team that won the 5th District title. I was keeping the scorebook and driving the team bus. Most memorably, my mom and dad were in the stands for the game. Joe took a picture of dad and wrote a column entitled “Trigg’s district title was the Wright stuff.” It was the last game my dad would ever see. He died a month later. After 30 years of coaching and receiving quite a bit of press, that column is the only one that hangs in my home. Thanks Joe.
Trigg County will miss the outstanding coverage Joe Wilson gave our community. Since I have retired from coaching, I will miss the part of my job that called for me to deal with the media and good folks like Joe. But I will always remember the dependable voice at the other end of the line that would be there whether we had won or lost saying, “Sports, this is Joe.”
Enthusiasm Makes the Difference
Mike Wright is the former head coach of boys basketball and cross country at Trigg County High School. Emails concerning Coach’s Corner can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.