The question has been posed to me so many times.
Since becoming a professional sports writer in 1992, I have been covering local high school sports and Eastern League baseball in New Britain.
I have grown to love the Eastern League, serving as an administrator from 1981-88 and writing about the circuit since 1992. I hope to continue in that regard for as long as my brain and fingers continue to function.
My work has been well-received throughout the baseball world and I've often wondered if I should have pursued a major league beat. But living out of a suitcase doesn't interest me and neither does being away from my family. No amount of money can make either palatable, so I'll live out my satisfying career perusing the local scene.
But why high schools? Why not the vibrant Connecticut college scene? The simple answer is that high school sports are woven into the dense fabric of all American communities.
Back in 1994 or so, I ran into a young man who asked me if I remembered him. I told him that he looked familiar, but I couldn't recall his name. He opened his wallet and pulled out a tattered newspaper clipping from several years prior in which I wrote about a no-hitter he pitched for the Farmington High baseball team.
It dawned on me how important high school sports are, not only to the development of the young people who play them, but to all of us. High school team sports teach young people one of the most vital lessons in life -- how to work with peers toward the achievement of a common goal. Documenting their exploits in a positive way helps construct a foundation for the future. I find that to be ultimately more important than satisfying my ego by finding a niche in an NFL or MLB press box.
Covering high schools may be at the bottom of the sports chain from one perspective, yet is more difficult than plying our craft at higher levels. When you walk into the professional or college press box, you are immediately handed media guides and more statistical analyses than you can imagine and enough minutiae to fill a lifetime's worth of notebooks.
When you cover a high school game, you're on your own. In most cases, historical facts that enrich a story have to be researched painstakingly, something for which we have so little time. There are no media relations people scampering to dig up the answers to your questions. There are no sports information mavens who maintain historical data bases passed down since helmets were made of leather and bats solely of wood.
Difficult, yes, but I find it quite rewarding and interesting. I hope you do, too.