Time to say goodbye and offer thanks

By Matt Hill

   Dreams can come true. Just ask Jason Poteet and the rest of this year's Johnson County boys basketball team.
   It was March 5, 2003, a night that saw the Johnson County Longhorns take on the Sullivan Central Cougars in the Region I-AA semifinals at Treadway Gym. The Longhorns were looking for their first trip to the substate in 19 years against a team that had just defeated them by 31 points the week before.
   The Longhorns led 43-40 in the final minute, but a three-pointer by Sullivan Central's John LeSueur tied the contest at 43-43. The dream looked like it was turning into a nightmare.
   That's when the unheralded Poteet entered the game.
   Johnson County had time for one last play. Matt Cornett found Poteet in the corner and he put up a prayer.
   An answered prayer. The three-point attempt went in and the Longhorns had reached their goal. They had advanced to the substate.
   After the game, Poteet was quoted in the Elizabethton Star as saying: "It's awesome. It's great. It's the best feeling in the world."
   A dream came true that night for Poteet, who was basically a sixth-man on a team loaded with stars. It's amazing what can happen if you just believe in yourself.
   Same thing in my life. Over the last four and a half years, the last two and a half here at the Elizabethton Star, I've been chasing down a dream of my own.
   I've been doing something that I truly enjoy, and that is being a sports journalist.
   I've thoroughly enjoyed the ride. Of course that particular basketball game is my most memorable moment as a journalist, but I've also witnessed ETSU's upset over Georgia Southern in football, covered a state tennis final, and have interviewed Dallas Cowboy tight end Jason Witten.
   There have been other enjoyable moments not as prestigious, but just as rewarding.
   For example, having the opportunity to do a story on kids like Johnson County volleyball players Nikki Davidson, Ashlee Billings and Rebecca Boney that are extremely good students and good people felt just as good as going to Thompson-Boling Arena for UT basketball games, which I have done twice.
   I've enjoyed the times where I covered track meets and tennis matches, and I knew everybody was glad to see me. I've enjoyed all the nice letters to the editor written about me, and the e-mails of encouragement.
   It has simply been a dream to do all this.
   And the dream will continue, just somewhere else. This is my last article in the Elizabethton Star.
   The dream couldn't have continued without the support from friends, my mom and dad and this staff, particularly sports editor Jamie Combs and former SportsTalk owner Jeff Birchfield.
   There are just too many people to thank individually, because so many people have been by my side the last few years. I just want to thank everybody who has touched my life.
   There is somebody else I want to thank, and I want to go back to that game to illustrate my point.
   During the postgame interview, Cornett said "I told every one of our boys to pray. We all prayed and God came through for us."
   God has really come through for me. Being a journalist has its good times, but also its bad times.
   It's like when your car breaks down on the way to a game, or you get a bad e-mail from somebody that has no idea what they're talking about. You need to have somebody there with you to get you through it.
   The Lord has done that and has blessed me with an opportunity to continue my career as a sports editor of a weekly paper. I can't thank Him enough for getting me through the bad times.
   I thank all of you, the readers, for your support over these last few years. It's truly been an honor to serve you.
   And a dream.