Your Blount Today looks a little different this week. We’ve turned things upside down with this special youth football section. While consistency is a good thing -- none of us like too many surprises -- we also pride ourselves at Blount Today on being flexible. This is our community’s newspaper, so we feel we need to be able to roll with what’s happening in our community.
What’s happening right now is that more than 600 of your little boys are putting on the pads, hitting the helmets and grinding it out on the gridiron. The PeeWee, Midgets and Grasshoppers are in full force in Blount County.
And they’re just so cute!
Okay, that’s the mom in me coming out. Stefan Cooper, the man responsible for this special section, reluctantly admitted that, yes, the pictures he and photographer Brandon Shinn brought back to the office elicited a lot of “awwws” from the women on staff.
Stefan, however, saw beyond the sweet little faces in oversized helmets. He saw an intensity, a passion, a love of the sport that is already brewing in these young boys. He saw training and dedication by committed adults -- not just in teaching Xs and Os, but in passing on life-lessons, in offering good programming by Parks & Rec and teambuilding by hard-working volunteer coaches and parents.
Businesses, too, step up for the program, with sponsorships of many of the teams and donations to help off-set costs and even in buying ads to help make this section possible for our newspaper.
The passion for football in Blount County isn’t unlike the passion for the Vols in Tennessee. It is born from winning traditions, from pride in accomplishments and from school spirit, but it goes beyond that. It draws us together. It gives us something to cheer for whether things are going great, or not-so-great. It’s fun.
The team here at Blount Today is so happy to be able to present this special, upside-down edition to our community.
The A section is all youth football. At last count, we have more than 80 photographs of the PeeWee, Midgets and Grasshoppers.
The B section has a scaled-down version of what you would normally look for in the A section, minus some of our regulars. For space reasons, Robin McDaniel’s “In the Kitchen” and Doug Horn’s “Money Matters” will take this week off and be back next week. We have included Chat Room (B4), Snapshots (B7) and School Menus (Bx), as well as some community events, happenings around town, calendar items and worship listing. As always, full calendars, community events and worship listings are available on our website at www.BlountToday.com.
While you enjoy your upside down section this week, let me also tell you about a new addition to Blount Today that I, personally, am very excited about.
As Blount Today celebrates four years as your community newspaper, I wanted to share a little more about myself with Blount Today readers. While I am also celebrating only four years as a publisher, I have been in the newspaper business for 33 years, having started at the Knoxville News Sentinel in Classified advertising in 1975.
My job? Writing obituaries! When I graduated from the University of Tennessee, the News Sentinel hired me as a reporter in the Women’s Department, writing features about community events, family and social issues of particular interest to women.
I stayed in feature writing with the News Sentinel in some form or fashion until I came to Blount Today in August of 2004.
One of the greatest joys of my newspaper career has been a personal column called Rhymes and Reasons that has been running in the Sentinel since the spring of 1988.
In the column, I write about family, friends and events that touch our lives -- whether that is the first day of school or a special moment on the soccer field. I took a four-month hiatus from writing Rhymes and Reasons while we were getting Blount Today rolling, but, when I decided to stay here in Blount County and not return to the Sentinel, the powers-that-be were kind enough to let me continue writing the column for the Sentinel.
Recently, I asked the Sentinel editor, Jack McElroy, if I could pick up the column I now write every-other-week for the Sentinel and repeat it in Blount Today. He agreed.
Blount Today editor Lance Coleman and I did some figuring and some planning, and we have a game plan that we hope you enjoy.
Beginning this week, Dear Readers will appear every week in Blount Today in the A section, on the inside of the back page. Some weeks it will be my Rhymes and Reasons column. Other weeks, it will be things that I want to share with you about Blount Today. Other weeks, it will be something Lance or Stefan have to say, or anyone else on our team here. It’s a chance for us to share with you.
We are also adding a second item to that page, beginning next week. One of the first requests we got four years ago, and have continued to get over the years, was for a Crossword Puzzle. We’ve found one we like, and we are going to add that puzzle to the Dear Readers page. Since we don’t want to make you wait for the answers, we will run the answers every week in our Classified section.
Everything we do at Blount Today is with our business partners and our readers in mind. In addition to the newspaper you hold in your hand, please take advantage of all we have to offer through Blount Today:
www.BlountToday.com -- Visit our Blount Today website for complete calendar and community event listings and additional pictures on many of our stories.
Breaking News alerts -- Sign up for our Breaking News email alerts. Send your email address and name to news@BlountToday.com.
www.BlountHomesToday.com -- Turn through our weekly real estate section on-line, email realtors and take virtual tours of homes.
www.TownsendTodayonline.com -- Check out Townsend businesses with direct links to their websites and meet the locals in the Friendly Faces section.
Monday Morning Quarterback -- Friday night lights come on this week, so Monday Morning Quarterback hits the streets on Monday. The weekly wrap-up of Friday’s games, plus Snapshots from each county game, will be in the Blount Today racks on Mondays and delivered to every Blount County resident who subscribes to our sister paper, the Knoxville News Sentinel, in their Monday paper.
www.BlountFootball.com -- Coming next week, our popular Monday Morning Quarterback edition will also be available on-line in an Olive E-edition. Turn through each page, and click on photographs to enlarge them on your screen.
Blount Today Sports Radio -- Every Friday night, Blount Today Sports Radio, currently on 105.9 FM, brings you a Blount Today Game of the Week. We will cover all four county teams several times during the season. Join our Blount Today Sports Radio team of Marty Millsaps, Joe Lambert, Dave Bennett, Tim Self, Heath Dunkel for live play-by-play, color commentary and give-aways every Friday night.
Comments -- Every story in our on-line edition has a place for you to comment on the story you just read and photographs you just viewed. Let other readers -- and us -- know what you think!
We have more up our sleeve, but this should be plenty to keep your interest this week. We hope you enjoy this week’s paper and the new additions we are planning. Let us hear from you. My email address is gardner@BlountToday.com, and my phone number is 865-981-9102.
Thanks for reading!
Sherri Gardner Howell