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BRAD ROBICHAUX — There’s nothing like taking the plunge with Friday Night football

You don’t start getting used to the water until you submerge yourself into it. I had dipped my toe in a couple of times before, and I had splashed myself a few other times from the side, but last Friday was the night I took the plunge.

When I had gone to see Memorial’s game against Beaumont United from the press box I was in the company of one Daucy Crizer, who was kind enough to answer my many questions and show me his method of taking statistics. I next sat with Larry Bodin during PNG’s homecoming game against Baytown Lee, where I practiced my own method for taking stats, such as it was, while Larry told me stories about how he came to cover high school games.

Both of these outings were just toes in the water.

I’m certainly no stranger to sports. I’ve put together and designed my share of sports pages, some even on Friday football nights that lasted until well after midnight. Looming over every choice that’s made when putting together a sports section on a football night is the finality of the deadline — If it doesn’t make it in by the deadline, well … it just doesn’t make it in. Sections are planned — with empty photo boxes, formatted spaces for text, sometimes whole story packages, just in case something falls through — so that they can be filled as soon as possible once the content comes in and is edited.

It’s frantic and it’s stressful. But, again, this experience was little more than a few splashes from the side. The pages are still laid out, more or less, like your typical news page, with a few extra score boxes and taglines thrown in for flavor.

Friday, at Memorial vs. New Caney, I plunged in headfirst.

Larry had showed me how much the process is a juggling act, taking stats, adding them all up while writing the game story so you can get it in on time. As everyone else was enjoying the halftime performances of the bands, or perhaps getting to take a bathroom break, Larry was writing as much of his story as he could up to that point, summing up the first half and throwing in some extra statistics pulled from previous games for context. This is what the seasoned pros do without making it look like it’s all that hard. My own toe-dipping, however, had prepared me enough to know that the water was still going to be quite cool.

I’m not going to lie — it was quite cool.

No first night is complete without a few hiccups, naturally. I turned my story in later than expected. For a moment I thought I might not be able to turn it in at all without traveling back to the office. Then I discovered my phone produces a wifi hotspot. Whatever extra my carrier was charging me for that service without me realizing it was worth it that night.

I plunged, swam about, treaded water a little, and got back out.

Of course, to the diver that jumps into frozen lakes without a wetsuit, this pool of water might be refreshing. It just takes time to get used to it.

I have to say though, in another sense, Friday’s experience was definitely pretty cool.

Brad Robichaux is the sports editor for The Port Arthur News. He can be reached at brad.robichaux@panews.com