It hadn't hit me until we ran our Athlete's of the Year spread. I, along with thousands of other fans, will not have the pleasure of watching many of our young high school players that I've gotten used to seeing over my few years here at the Standard Democrat.
I started writing here towards the end of the 2007 football season and then headed straight forward into the bustling world of Southeast Missouri basketball. Last year's seniors were just lowly sophomores, but that's when it all started for me.
I can remember following the Scott County Central Braves to their third place finish in the 2007-08 state championship, which was exciting for me as a writer and as a general fan of high school basketball. I knew the history of SCC basketball as well as many others fairly well and the excitement of seeing one of our local teams make it to 'the show' was a treat for a rookie scribe like myself.
I can remember watching guys like Juqualin Wiggins, Bobby Hatchett and Kony Ealy, who were all sophomores at the time. Even then you knew that bigger things were to come from them.
Watching and analyzing game after game in which guys like Deonte Jones and Dontre Jenkins play in, you get spoiled over time.
Those guys know how to win.
And they won -- a lot. They won the right way.
Not only were they a joy to watch on the court, they were always willing to give 'the guy who stuck around too long after games' an interview. I give them credit just for speaking to someone who looks like me.
During our post-game chats, they were always very well-spoken and courteous. I never left our conversations without hearing a 'yes sir' or a 'Mr. Pobst.' That's what always caught my attention. It wasn't how well they performed that night or how many points they had scored, it's they way they handled themselves on and off the court that made last year's seniors a class to be envied.
Not only me, but they always gave time to talk to their fans as well. I saw a few of them actual give autographs to a couple of future sports stars and take the time to give them a bit of advice. As a fan of sports, you find yourself wanting nothing but good things to happen to athletes like that, no matter what color or mascot they have on their jersey.
I guess that's why they do stick out. It's one thing to be a totally gifted athlete that can do whatever it takes to succeed on the field, but it's another to do it the right way. Something that is totally overlooked in today's society.
Yes, last year's seniors had made their mark in more ways than one. They have accounted for numerous highlights and have brought excitement like the area has never seen before (i.e. Scott Central v. Sikeston, the first meeting. That was a once in a lifetime event that I guarantee will never happen again.).
It's lasting memories that the classy kids I mentioned above, along with countless other student-athletes, that have made this already rich sports haven we all call home that much more special.
There's no doubt in my mind that there is another senior class waiting in the wings to have as much, or more, success than these guys have had. But to do it the way they did, I don't think it will ever be duplicated.