That has a nice ring to it, don’t you think? (You probably don’t think so, but I do) (And my mom probably does too) Every time I see it in print throughout this semester, I think I will be just as amazed as Future Daniel will be when he sees it for the first time.
Since August 25, 2016, when my name first appeared in The Chanticleer (it read Daniel Mayes, Staff Writer at that point), I have written a story for the sports section for every week that the newspaper has been placed in those red newsstands around campus for you to reluctantly grab on the way to class.
In that time, I have grown to love sports, journalism, and sports journalism, even more than I did when I started (which was quite a lot, by the way). Working for The Chanticleer has already lead me on some incredible experiences that I already know I’ll never forget. From stressing way too much over the specific wording in my first soccer recap, to having to take my mom with me to Nashville to cover JSU’s basketball team in the OVC tournament because I wasn’t old enough to get a hotel by myself, to actually getting to sit courtside in Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis for JSU’s NCAA Tournament game. In Actual March Madness. On Actual, National-TV CBS.
In my time with The Chanticleer I have grown as a writer, I have grown as a journalist, and I’d like to think I have grown as a person. It has forced me out of my introverted comfort-zone and helped me develop into a more well-rounded person.
I think that’s enough mushy-gushy stuff, don’t you?
So a little more about me:
I am from a nowhere town on Sand Mountain in DeKalb County Alabama called Grove Oak (where?). I love sports (obviously) but basketball is my favorite. My cousin played basketball at JSU in the late 90s (And my side of the family didn’t receive any of that athletic ability). I am more than a little obsessed with Star Wars (I’ve seen The Last Jedi in theaters four times) (so far). I also love The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter (but slightly less so than Star Wars). My favorite TV show is The Office (or maybe Arrested Development, it depends on which day you ask me). I could eat chicken wings every day of the week (lemon pepper with blue cheese is the way to go). I am an extremely zealous teller of bad puns (as you you will find out on page three of this paper. Yeah, This Mayes IS Corny).
I’m beyond excited to get started at The Chanticleer, and I’m looking forward to (officially) working with Katie, Alissa, and Chris.
(Author Note: I’m not good as introductions, so bear with me.)
Bonjour. Comment vas-tu?
My name is Chris Allen Brown. But you can call me whatever you see fit — as long as we leave the Chris Brown jokes in 2009.
To get the basic information out of the way first, I’m a 24-year-old senior Communications major from Jacksonville, Ala., but graduated from Weaver High in 2011. Walks on the beach aren’t too bad as long as we don’t have to walk far to find somewhere to sit down. The dress is blue and black, not gold and white. LeBron James isn’t the greatest basketball player of all time. One can’t go wrong watching any Harry Potter or Star Wars movies. I saw nothing wrong with the finale of How I Met Your Mother — because tears were flowing out of my eyes, so I couldn’t really see anything. I’ll throw down in Mario Kart 64 any time, any day.
I have the attention span of a squirrel — it’s taken me over an hour and a half to write this — and I often talk with my hands, which means I’m better than Ricky Bobby. I’m unique in that I self-describe as an introvert, but, more times than not, I’m the complete opposite. I just like to make sure everyone is laughing and having a good time when I’m around.
Sports are my life. Besides Sunkist, sports — baseball, basketball, football, racing, soccer, fighting, etc. — are my second love. I could lose myself watching any of the above, especially college sports because they’re doing it for the thrill rather than a paycheck.
Now, onto more valuable information …
I didn’t start writing until I was a sophomore at Jacksonville State University, but since then, I’ve taken it upon myself to get better each and every time I open a Microsoft Word document. Hanging in my room is a painting from a high school classmate that reads, “I’m a nobody trying to tell everybody about a somebody who can save anybody.” I’m not into writing for personal gain, but rather the pleasure of telling someone’s story in hopes that another person comes across it, connects with it and it change their life for the better.
Today’s random Chris fact (that may become a weekly thing in The Chanticleer, so watch out) is I knew all 50 U.S. state capitals when I was in fifth grade. To this day, I can tell you the capital of any state. For example, Montana’s capital is Helena. Boom. Mind Blown.
And no, it’s not the beginning of some twisted college movie where a videotape kills you, it’s more like a twisted college existence and the thing killing you is your degree.
I’ve been in college for seven years. Two years in community college and five years at JSU to get one four-year degree, and I’ll be honest I’ve thought of quitting a lot over the years. I’ve worked multiple jobs, sometimes at one time, to put myself through school without loans, so school has been a steady progression taking what I can as I can afford it. Spoiler alert: I can never afford it.
But here we are. Seven and some odd years since I graduated high school and at the age of 25 I’m finally going to get to walk across that stage and get the thing I’ve wanted more than anything else. My Bachelor’s degree. To say I’m relieved is an understatement, to say I’m excited doesn’t even begin to cover it and to say I never thought this day would come doesn’t even come close.
I wanted to talk about a lot of things in this piece. I wanted to talk about my time at JSU and how awful some parts of it were. About feeling like a number and not a person, about crying every single time they raised tuition and again when they cut my financial aid in half. I wanted to write about my frustrations and anger, about my sadness and tribulation, but then I decided not to. I decided instead to write about what became my saving grace, my joy and happiness and the brightest of the bright spots during my time as a Gamecock: my year as the Chanticleer Associate Editor.
I’ve been a writer for the Chanty since I got here and I’ve seen three different sets of editors come through, written for all of them but only really made true friends with the ones that are there now. Friendships I never expected, and didn’t know how badly I needed.
To Katie: Our fearless leader. You have been my friend from the beginning. From the first time I walked through that door and sat down at the desk beside yours. We’ve joked about how slow the computers are, accidentally got new ones, eaten lots of chocolate, told story after story, decorated for Christmas and so much more. For all of those things I thank you so much. Thank you for all the love that you’ve given me and shown me, thank you for teaching me things when you didn’t have to and being patient when I asked questions over and over. Thanks for listening to me ramble and go off on tangents about politics and religion and for always being there when I needed you. I love you and will miss you so much and I look forward to reading whatever you write from now until forever!
To Alissa: The one person who loves her dog as much as I love mine. You are so amazingly wonderful and beautiful with a solid heart of gold. I remember when you found Liberty and then I remember when you decided to adopt her. I remember all the fun stuff you bought for her. I loved getting to do stuff with you and Liberty and Milo, I hope we can still do all that. Thanks for always making me laugh, for making me feel loved and pretty, for being silly and making fun of Tim and for doing my make up for my pictures with Ethan. Thanks for eating all the candy that I bought for the office and thanks for laughing with me when the picture frame broke during staff photos. I’ll always remember that. You’re a rock and a star and I can’t wait to see how far you go with Lib by your side! I love you!
To Tim: My BFF. I’ve known you longer than Katie and Alissa. You were my third sports editor. I only knew you through the computer and text messages before we actually met when I became Associate Editor. You were the first sports editor to actively tell me when my writing needed work and to tell me how to fix it. I’ll always appreciate the constructive criticism, even if I joke and tell you that you a mean dictator. Thanks for talking sports with me, for enduring my jabs about the Dodgers, for being my pal at the Anniston Star after we finished writing and for letting us meet Diana. I know that was hard for you (hee hee). You are hilarious and so much fun, I’ll miss our Tuesday afternoons just hanging out. Don’t forget us when you’re a big sports writer somewhere. Oh yeah, and I love ya.
Thanks JSU for giving me my friends. Friends that I never would have met anywhere else. I guess I owe you that much.
Goodbye JSU, I kind of hate to love you and you suck sometimes, but I’ll miss you.
When most people think about The Chanticleer they think it’s just another college newspaper. When I think about you, though, I think about so much more than that. To me, The Chanticleer means family.
I worked that first semester with Marie, Adam Higgins and Katelyn “Bug” Schneider. Soon, graduation seasons led to Katie Cline, Alissa Camplin and Rebekah Hawkins becoming my work associates. These are the coworkers I have worked closely with, and they will be who comes to mind first when I think back at my time at the Chanty.
Katie, you have taken The Chanticleer to new heights, and I am excited to see where you take it next. The student body can’t imagine how much time you have sacrificed just to make sure the paper get published every week.
Alissa, we have had our differences at times, but I have truly enjoyed our time working together. I don’t know how we got any work done when we were in the office together, but we had fun every minute of it
Rebekah, there are not enough words to describe how thankful I am to know you. Before you took over as associate editor, you were about the only writer I could trust. More often than not, you and I were the only sports writers featured in The Chanticleer, and I am so thankful for how easy you made my job.
I wrote my first article for the Chanty in November of 2014. Specifically, the first article I wrote was Jacksonville State’s men’s basketball’s 74-55 season-opening loss to Marshall. That was four seasons ago, but I still remember listening and taking notes to Mike Parris’ broadcast.
Marvel Robinson asked me to write that story, testing the waters to see how reliable I was. He must have like me, because over the next three semesters he asked me to contribute every week. Marvel graduated in December 2015, and Marie McBurnett, the Editor-in-Chief at the time, suggested I apply for his position. I was hired on the following January.
This December I will walk across the stage at graduation, and someone new will be in charge of the sports department. I look forward to seeing where they take the sports section, and read about all of the Gamecocks’ victories.
Lastly, I would also like to send a special thank you to Greg Seitz, Josh Underwood, Tony Schmidt, Tyler Brown, Daniel Porter and the rest of the athletic department. You all have made my job as sports editor as easy as possible. I also would like to thank the student body for supporting The Chanticleer. If it weren’t for y’all, The Chanticleer would just be a memory gone by. Go Gamecocks, and God Bless.
There’s a lot of argument as to whether or not we transition too fast between Halloween and Christmas.
And to be fair, there’s some merit in those statements. When Halloween has barely ended and I’m already hearing “Holly, Jolly Christmas” on the radio, or seeing Christmas trees gracing the Garden Center in Wal-Mart, maybe it IS too early for all that.
Personally, I’m one of those people that starts planning for Christmas when Halloween ends. I spend all of October planning a perfect Halloween, then when November starts you might as well call me St. Nick and dress me all in red because I am ready for Christmas.
I love the trees and the lights and the decorations. I love the corny Christmas music and cheesy Christmas specials. I love the movies and the caroling. All of it. And I aim to start it as soon as possible so I can enjoy it longer. But sometimes I do wonder if I’m forgetting about Thanksgiving.
Sometimes when I look deep into my childhood memories I can’t remember a lot of Thanksgivings. They seem like a blur that turns into Christmas. I see a lot of pictures from Christmases past, but we don’t often take pictures on Thanksgiving. It’s mostly just a, “Hi, how are you? Haven’t seen you all year. Oh yay food! Okay, bye. See you in a month at Christmas.”
Thanksgiving and Christmas are two of the only days of the year that I see all of my family. I see my grandparents on my dad’s side more because they live right around the corner from me, but the rest of my family, on both sides, I’m lucky if I see more than just those two designated days in the winter.
It’s sad isn’t it?
I was always taught that Thanksgiving was a time to be grateful for all the things that we have. All the things that we share. I wish that I had more memories of Thanksgiving than just the ones that blur into Christmas. But there are some memories that stand out.
I do remember the table cloth with the leaf pattern that draped over the long table. I remember how it used to just be just one long table, then it became two as the family grew. I remember the sausage balls carefully placed into a basket with an orange napkin, festive as my grandmother is, and I remember being told by my mother not to eat too many before lunch.
I remember my grandfather falling asleep in his chair and pretending like he wasn’t.
I remember being disappointed that the only dessert offered on Thanksgiving was a jam cake, and I hated jam cakes. I remember my dad hiding out in the corner by the TV so he could watch the Thanksgiving NFL games.
I remember going to my dad’s parents’ house and getting what was left over of Thanksgiving dinner before going home. I remember dad always saying that he was full and then standing in the kitchen and making himself a plate anyway.
I remember my grandfather standing in front of the small kitchen window, him as tall as the window itself, and scrubbing the dishes carefully and methodically like he always has.
I remember my grandmother asking my dad if he wanted her to wrap up anything for him, and him always saying no before changing his mind and asking if she wouldn’t mind.
I remember my mom reading the Black Friday ads that were strewn on the couch and wondering aloud to my grandmother why anyone would bother getting out in all that mess.
And the sweet tea. I remember the Red Diamond sweet tea.
There are memories like those that make me smile. Memories that I can clearly see, and that still go on to this day. And there are others that I sometimes wish I could forget.
I remember the first Thanksgiving after my grandfather died. He had died on November 1, and everyone was still processing it when our first holiday without him came. I remember the house decked out in its usual Thanksgiving décor, yet slightly sad and less than. I remember his pictures being up all over the house, a reminder of him so we wouldn’t forget. As if we could.
I remember his chair being empty for most of the night, until my grandmother sat in it herself, as if to say, “This is where he would have been. This is where I wish he still was.”
I remember the tears when my dad said the prayer. When he said, “This family is hurting right now. Because we lost someone important. But we’re still here. We’re still a family.”
I remember all that.
I remember all the Thanksgivings after. How the house has lightened, how we’ve processed and how we’ve done our best to move on. How life has changed for us all, but how those pictures still remain where they were that first Thanksgiving without him. How he remains.
I remember Thanksgiving.
In the midst of planning for Black Friday shopping or planning for Christmas as early as I can because life is so busy, I’m going to try to remember Thanksgiving. Remember the memories I have, and the ones that are still to come. Remember that leaf covered table cloth, the jam cake and sausage balls, my grandfather washing dishes in the kitchen, the leftovers dad swore he didn’t want and those pictures on the mantle.