Back in August 2020, which feels like a lifetime ago considering the events that have transpired since, I commented on a Monte Dutton Facebook post. He was letting the lifelong Clinton High fans on his feed know the Red Devils were hosting a football scrimmage that upcoming Saturday.
I let Monte know that I’d be interested in shooting a couple of photos of the game.
At the time, I was beginning my senior year at the University of South Carolina. I had landed zero internships as a Gamecock. I thought I had secured an internship during my sophomore year with 107.5 The Game, Columbia’s local sports radio station.
I woke up at 5 a.m., drove over to the station and sat in on the morning show. After the show, I asked when I could come back. They said they’d let me know. They didn’t.
My passion for journalism was a small percentage of what it once was. I was left trudging through the rest of my sophomore and junior year. I made great grades, but I didn’t enjoy it.
Ask my mama, ask my friends and they’ll quote me saying multiple times, “I don’t even wanna be a journalist.”
It's tough seeing your peers advance their careers so early in college. I know I'm not the only student who feels the pressure that comes with such a competitive field. I could only put my head down and keep working.
Fast forward back to August ’20. Monte agreed to give me a shot. His expectations could not have been that high. I was inexperienced, both with sports journalism and photography. I didn’t even have a camera; I had to rent a camera each Friday from the journalism school.
I went to the Clinton scrimmage, nervous as could be. “Where do I stand?” was my biggest concern. Looking back on the photos that day, they were not the best, but I was proud of them. I was proud of my work. That was all I needed for my journalistic passion to be revived.
I began going to different games around the county on Friday nights. Week to week, both my articles and photos started improving. My confidence started improving.
I went from worrying where to stand to using a Laurens band member as a human shield to grab the perfect photo of the Raiders running out onto the field.
Monte continued to put his trust in me, and I think I’ve held up my end of the bargain.
Football season turned to basketball season and I became PC hoops’ lone beat writer. It’s been fun; still is. It’s a blessing to be one of few privy to watch the Blue Hose square off.
I no longer had access to renting a camera from the journalism school, but Monte graciously loaned his camera to me. It’s taken a while to get used to, but I have a good handle on it now.
I’ve gone from a weekly trip to Laurens County, for whichever football game Monte decided, to making multiple trips a week covering the county’s basketball games. It’s probably for the best that I don’t have the option to rent a camera anymore. They’d be sick of me by now.
My Toyota Camry is probably sick of me, too. I essentially own I-26 at this point.
Just a couple of weeks ago, Monte and I made the trip to Boiling Springs, N.C., for a 2-game series between Presbyterian and Gardner-Webb. We had our fair share of technical difficulties, and I found myself writing a game story, on my phone, at a Days Inn in good ol’ Shelby, N.C.
It was an experience, but we got it done.
I've since bought a 2-in-1 tablet for my upcoming road trips. It should be a bit easier.
A few weeks ago, I emailed Monte at 12:37 a.m.
I started the email by saying, “I’ve schemed an elaborate plan.” “Oh boy,” he must’ve thought. He told me to call him, I did, and we discussed my plan into the wee hours of the night.
Once again, Monte trusted me. Trusted me enough to let me run wild with an idea of mine that came to me when I should’ve been sleeping.
In May, I’m moving to Anderson. ElectricCitySports.com will be my vision. Monte has decided to let a 21-year-old kid expand the business. I don’t blame him. We both know I can do it.
So, I’m the general manager of Electric City Sports. It’s going to be a thing. Soon.
Once I graduate in May, it’s time to get to work.
And I'm young. This is only the beginning.