Good­bye, South­ern Mary­land

Maryland Independent - - Good­bye, South­ern Mary­land - Prince J. Grimes pgrimes@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @dmvprince

Upon re­turn­ing home to Mary­land from North Carolina A&T State Univer­sity with a de­gree in jour­nal­ism, I be­gan cov­er­ing sports for the Gazette news­pa­pers in Prince Ge­orge’s and Mont­gomery coun­ties.

Barely a year later, I was in for a rude awak­en­ing when The Wash­ing­ton Post Companies de­cided to take a sledge­ham­mer to its com­mu­nity news­pa­pers in the sum­mer of 2015, which in­cluded clos­ing the Gazettes. Although we Gazette staffers heard The Post was also doing sim­i­lar things with other prop­er­ties, in­clud­ing South­ern Mary­land News­pa­pers, all we could worry about at the time was be­ing out of a job. Need­less to say, we were col­lec­tively dev­as­tated.

As it turns out, the Post ac­tu­ally sold South­ern Mary­land News­pa­pers to Adams Pub­lish­ing Group, which at the time, I had no clue would be my sav­ing grace. A few months later, I re­ceived a call from The Calvert Recorder sports edi­tor Andy States. Andy of­fered me an op­por­tu­nity to in­ter­view for a sports writer open­ing at South­ern Mary­land News­pa­pers. I jumped at the op­por­tu­nity.

It lit­er­ally took just a week on the job for my eyes to be opened to a new world of Mary­land. When I was a kid, I made the trek down U.S. Route 301 South sev­eral times from Prince Ge­orge’s County. With each trip, I grew more cu­ri­ous about the St. Mary’s and Calvert County ar­eas that lay just a few miles south of my Bowie home.

As I peered out the win­dows of our fam­ily van with my child­hood lenses, I thought about the peo­ple in this area. Were they farm­ers? Were they fish­er­men? If my neigh­bor­hood friends and I played a neigh­bor­hood of these kids in bas­ket­ball or foot­ball, could they beat us? South­ern Mary­land News­pa­pers would pro­vide me the op­por­tu­ni­ties I needed to tra­verse these close, yet un­fa­mil­iar ar­eas.

My first story for South­ern Mary­land News­pa­pers was a piece in The Recorder on pick­le­ball, a sport I knew noth­ing about. I trav­eled down to Solomons Is­land to hang out with a 73-year-old man and his friends as they played the un­fa­mil­iar sport, taught me how to play, and in­tro­duced me to the area. I couldn’t have found a bet­ter way to get in­tro­duced to Calvert County. A cou­ple of weeks later, I cov­ered what was pos­si­bly the fi­nal Chap­tico Clas­sic, a St. Mary’s County sta­ple for decades.

Over the past eight months, I’m ex­tremely proud to have cov­ered his­tor­i­cal events, in­trigu­ing peo­ple and the shin­ing mo­ments of so many high schools. These in­clude, North Point foot­ball’s un­de­feated reg­u­lar sea­son, Patux­ent foot­ball’s state cham­pi­onship, Hunt­ing­town’s state semi­fi­nal soc­cer teams and its record-set­ting boys bas­ket­ball team, McDonough’s state fi­nal­ist vol­ley­ball team, North Point and North­ern’s state semi­fi­nal­ist girls bas­ket­ball teams, along with count­less in­door track and field state cham­pi­ons, in­clud­ing North­ern’s girls team and West­lake’s boys. I’ve had the great plea­sure of in­ter­view­ing and re­port­ing sto­ries on many ded­i­cated coaches and great stu­dent-ath­letes. It’s been a short but mem­o­rable ride.

That ride is com­ing to an end to­day. April 8 is my fi­nal day with South­ern Mary­land News­pa­pers. I ac­cepted a new po­si­tion, one out­side of this great state that I was raised in and will con­tinue to love.

Through my now adult lenses, my trips to Calvert and Charles coun­ties have blurred the Prince Ge­orge’s bor­der lines of my child­hood. It turns out that my home county didn’t stretch as far as I thought it did and South­ern Mary­land wasn’t much dif­fer­ent from home.

In fact, all of Mary­land seems alike to me. I couldn’t have landed in a bet­ter area than South­ern Mary­land to spend the ma­jor­ity of my last days in Mary­land. I’ve learned how kind, hard­work­ing, in­clu­sive, and com­mu­nity-driven the peo­ple are. And yes, I do be­lieve that, although it wouldn’t have been a cake­walk, the South­ern Mary­land kids could’ve taken a few games from my Prince Ge­orge’s County friends and I.

Ul­ti­mately, I move on to the next phase of my life with a wider view of my home state. I want to thank all of the stu­dents, par­ents, coaches, ath­letic di­rec­tors and peo­ple who have helped make my job as easy as pos­si­ble.

Thank you to the read­ers. You are more im­por­tant than you re­al­ize. Thank you to Andy, my sports edi­tor Paul Wat­son, the Mary­land Independent edi­tor Rob Perry, and my co-sports writ­ers AJ Ma­son, Tammy Showal­ter, and Ted Black for all your help. And fi­nally, thank you South­ern Mary­land for the mem­o­ries.

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