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A new, but very familiar, voice in local sports

Same picture, same person, different venue.

Yeah, that photo is me. After close to two decades of writing about sports in Manatee and Sarasota counties, I have found a new home.

Life is full of challenges and new opportunities, and when the Bradenton Herald made me an offer I couldn’t refuse ... well, I didn’t.

So here I am, ready to deliver and be at your service.

I’ll be writing columns, blogs, features and covering events. In essence, I’ll be doing a lot of what I have done, but from a different launching pad.

I like to think I know the landscape of Manatee County sports like the back of my hand, so I won’t need any introductions.

Heck, its not a job anyway. Covering sports here is like being a kid in a candy store and there is a vault of super heroes (Tommie Frazier, Willie Taggart, Peter Warrick, Adrian McPherson); get the picture? The list is endless.

So, hello Joe Kinnan and Paul Maechtle. Our friendship continues, but with a little different twist. No matter, always loved your football teams. Manatee and Southeast have earned a special place in my heart.

Coaching icons at the high school level don’t always get their proper recognition, but these guys are special. How many counties the size of Manatee can have two Hall of Fame caliber coaches? We are lucky folks.

Goodbye, Raymond Woodie. We will keep in touch, and I’m sure to be seeing you because there are too many good players coming out of Manatee County not to demand your presence here.

Leaving the Palmetto High head football job to be an assistant at Western Kentucky is a big step. Recruiting can be a bear and take you away from your family for long stretches, but when you are chasing a dream, you go where the trail leads.

John Harder and I have broken bread over more district championships than you can count on two hands. Another one seems to be coming this year for his Southeast High girls team in what might be his best coaching job. No basketball coach I know does more with less.

With his 17th district title in his 27th season on the horizon, Harder’s heart has always belonged to his program; but he has found someone to share that with and will end 21 years as a bachelor with a marriage on March 27. I guess he proved patience has always been one of his virtues.

I was here for the birth of Lakewood Ranch and Braden River and am amazed at how the little brother Pirates seemed to have passed the Mustangs on the football field and basketball court.

When I think of Lakewood Ranch, I see Rocky Schwartz. Tough, never took a play off, the perfect poster boy for the Mustangs’ athletic program. Don’t want to slight Gary Cismesia and Lastings Milledge, but Rocky was the guy, and hey, he’s got the name.

Braden River is so young, it seems like the Pirates are just now shedding their training wheels. But they have made great strides. A lot of thanks should go to athletic director Bob Bowling, who has proven he knows how to do his job. If the Glazers need a new GM to run the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, I’ve got his phone number.

Well, that’s it for now. I hope you’ll join me in my journey. Fifty cents a day is all it will cost (well, $1 on Sundays)!

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