We’re lucky to relive our good old days of covering football – and soon

We’ve been preparing for this for a couple of months now.

Actually, we’ve been talking about it and planning for it longer than that. Almost everything we have been doing the past eight weeks has been in preparation for it – timely features by Lee Brecheen of Louisiana Football Magazine on local players; John James Marshall’s excellent summer series on prominent retired local coaches; team-by-team schedules by Lee Hiller.

It’s almost here, and we can hardly wait.

It’s not unusual to be excited about the start of high school football – not in north Louisiana. But, here at the Journal, the anticipation is exceptionally high for a number of reasons:

  • Since Shreveport-Bossier Journal has been in existence for only six months (it became the 10th Parish Journal to go into publication in January 2022), this will be our first coverage of high school football season
  • While some of our writers have been in the broadcast booth for football games over the years, this will mark the first time in almost 30 years that this group will be back together again actually covering high school football games in print
  • It’s high school football. Enough said.

The past two Thursday nights have been special as Origin Bank hosted appreciation suppers at its downtown Shreveport location for high school football coaches and related personnel from Bossier and Caddo Parishes. These events, coordinated by SBJ, provided an excellent atmosphere for our online publication to let the schools know about our plans for comprehensive coverage of local high school football. First and foremost, we’ll be expanding to daily editions seven days a week in the fall.

As I walked around the meeting room at Origin Bank during those events, I recognized a few faces in the crowd. Then it hit me: the last time I covered high school football, some of these people hadn’t even been born yet.

They have no idea how different it will be for us this time. With smart phones, we can now sit in the press box and get real-time scores. We can hook into the school’s wifi to send our stories over the internet to our publication.

No more Radio Shack computers (I use that term loosely) or land-line hookups to try to send in your story (I can still remember that sound of dial-up – if it worked).

There weren’t many females covering football back then – whether it was at the high school, college, or professional level. I’ve been fortunate to write about many sports, but nothing compares to covering football.

My fondest memories include:

  • High school: getting in the car on Friday evening, driving east on I-20, cutting off into the woods and driving in the pitch dark – looking for the stadium lights through the trees and following them to the dirt parking lot, parking and walking up the stadium steps to the tiny press box, and keeping play-by-play stats before heading down to the field and chasing down the head coaches to get a quick quote.
  • College: on Dec. 16, 1989, Oregon defeated Tulsa 27-24 in the Independence Bowl. It’s not the score I remember, that it was the final I-Bowl without sponsorship, or that quarterback Bill Musgrave (Oregon) and defensive back Chris Oldham (Oregon) were the MVP’s. No, what I remember is that it was bitter cold (29 degrees) and the press box was open at our feet. My legs got so cold that, at halftime, I informed the other sports writers that I was going home to get my electric blanket and return for the rest of the game. I’ll never forget the looks on their faces when I actually returned to the game deep into the third quarter. I think they had a bet going as to whether I would return. It never occurred to me to stay home once I got there.
  • Professional: the first step I took into the New Orleans Saints locker room after covering a game and a team employee yells, “Female in the locker room.” That was a loooong time ago, but I can still feel a little embarrassed when I think about it.

Yep, those were the good old days. I can’t believe we get to live them all over again. And soon.

Contact Harriet at sbjharriet@gmail.com