OPINION: A few gifts that I have no money to actually give

A new year is here and it’s time to make those silly resolutions. I’ve never been the type to make those promises for the new year (Or is it I’m not the type to keep them? Yeah, that is it.)

I also stay so far behind schedule that when New Year’s Day gets here, I’m very likely to still be looking for Christmas presents.

Therefore, in the spirit of my procrastination, here are a few belated Christmas gifts I’d like to hand out to a few people. Actually it’s what I would have given you, had I had enough money and wish-granting ability to do so.

……First, let’s start in Smithville. Looking for your present wasn’t difficult. I’d give the Seminoles a better first round football playoff draw. An already bruised up but still unbeaten Smithville had the misfortune of drawing Coffeeville in the Class 1A playoffs’ on opening Friday.

Like Aberdeen in 2008, Coffeeville fell to No. 4 due to an unexpected – and unexcuable loss prior to the playoffs. Perhaps the team with the best chance to beat Smithville, Coffeeville landed there in the first round and won.

……On to Aberdeen, I’d give you a faster date to hold school board elections, then a new set of administrators. Afterall, ’tis the season to be jolly, not ’tis the season to make folly.’ Oh, and I’d give you a competent officiating crew in the state title game.

……To Hamilton, the gift of recognition. Meaning that not enough people know what a treat it is to watch sports at your school. Namely the outdoor sports. It’s tough to find a baseball, softball or football field that shares the quality of yours. That’s a lot of mowing, caring and after-hours work that most people never think about.

……To Amory, I’d like to give you a soccer championship. Yes, you’re a football school and nothing will ever change that, but your soccer teams have gotten so close in unfair divisions that feature recruiting teams and frankly it’s your turn to win one.

……To Hatley, another Courtney Fretwell. When I started covering this area three years ago, your softball team was barely able to compete. Now the Lady Tigers are a force to deal with and Fretwell is a big reason why. Softball coaches Mark Guntharp and Chris George have done a great job with a ton of young talent and having a single senior that plays as hard and takes losing as personal as anyone around like Fretwell does has done more than anyone knows to help Hatley back on the map.

……To Nettleton, a trip to Jackson in basketball is my wish for you. No team has worked any harder and no team has gotten to the brink more than you. If up to me (and it’s not) it’s your turn.

……Finally, to my friends at the Mississippi High School Activities Association, a lesson in hosting from your North Mississippi friends would be my gift to you. When Tupelo hosted the Grand Slam for two years, it was loved by all. Speaking from a media standpoint, because that’s where I stand, we enjoyed chairs that we didn’t have to search for, food that wasn’t locked in a room only to be eaten at halftime and a hospitality room that wasn’t a 12-mile-uphill walk from our work spaces. I’m sure the fans here somewhat enjoyed the shorter drive and their own beds that night as well.

All that said though, in the famous words of Vardaman coach Justin Hollis, “if ifs and buts were candy and nuts…,” IF I could really give you all this stuff I would, BUT I can’t.

Finally though, and certainly first for Jessica and myself, Happy Birthday Spencer Hayes. These two years have been the best gift of our lives.

See you all in 2010.

Brandon Speck is the sports editor of the Monroe Journal. He can be reached at (662) 256-5647 or brandon.speck@monroe360.com.

Brandon Speck/Monroe Journal

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