Duane Sherrill

The Dream Team is breaking up. The Tullahoma News’ award-winning and internationally acclaimed sportswriter Zach Birdsong has been enticed away from our news team and is going to pursue another professional opportunity here in Tullahoma.

When he first informed me he had gotten the job with the Tullahoma City Schools system, I have to admit my mind flashed to Yoko Ono breaking up the Beatles back in the 1970s.

Granted, we aren’t exactly the Beatles here, nor am I saying your school system is Yoko Ono, but at the same time I hate when a good thing comes to an end.

We were like a well-oiled machine here, so removing a member of the squad is like removing a member of a championship basketball team.

While we will still be good, we won’t be as good for a while. You can’t lose eight years of experience and an internationally acclaimed photographer and actually believe you will be just as good as before.

So, with the departure of Zach begins the search for our next sports guy.

“Or sports girl!” I just heard Erin McCullough yell out from the newsroom as she realized she will remain the lone female in editorial if the next hire is a male.

Anyway, we have already put out the job on Indeed and thus far, we have lots of hits but all are from out of state.

There appear to be some qualified applicants. However, I would like to hear from some local candidates before moving forward with out-of-state applications.

I don’t have anything against importing someone if they are qualified. Zach came to us from Houston, so it is possible to relocate and excel. But, it would be very nice to have someone who grew up in this area and already knows athletics to inherit the sports desk – male or female.

“Hey, I may know somebody,” I can hear some of you say. “What are you looking for?”

I’m glad you asked. Of course, ideally I’d love to have someone who is already fully trained in sports coverage, has good photography skills and is versed in computer composing.

However, that’s a lot to ask so I’ll give you my realistic idea. First, the person must love sports. Not like sports; I mean love sports.

If I can find someone who has sports in their blood, that’s half the battle because I know that they will enjoy their work, and if you find a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.

Second, you’ve got to attend the games. Some sports people try to phone it in. There’s no replacement for actually being there.

That’s something I’m learning from the coaches here who have worked with Zach. He was there at events, not just calling them on the phone. (By the way, I’m your sports guy until I find someone).

There’s no reason you can’t fill two to three pages of sports twice a week while school sports are going on (provided there isn’t a pandemic – like that’ll ever happen.)

Now I’m sure I’ll get inquiries from folks who like taking sports pictures and, yes, I’d love to have someone who can take a good picture.

I’m not opposed to having people do some sports photo stringing here and there, but I also need someone that can write.

Now, that person doesn’t have to be an incredible wordsmith. I’ve always joked that I can train a monkey to write, provided the monkey wants to learn to write.

If you’re amenable to learn the writing part (as long as you have a decent grasp of the English language), then I’m a pretty good teacher and I love sports.

I’ve done sports writing in the past and even won state awards in the sports category. However, while doing sports may be fun for a bit, that will mean I’ll be doing two full-time jobs, and it won’t take long to get burned out.

Therefore, I need a sportsperson sooner than later.

So, to recap, you need to love sports, be willing to go to games, have some grasp of the English language, have some photo ability and be willing to learn.

If you got those qualities, you are a candidate. But, just like the guy on television who says to “act now before it’s too late,” if you’re interested, don’t delay because, I want to fill the position.

If you’re interested you may call me at 931-455-4545. I’m at extension 331. Leave a message if I’m not here, and I’ll get back to you. And it’d be nice to have a resume available if I ask for one.

You may also email me at dsherrill@tullahomanews.com. That’s actually the best way to get me since I’m in and out of the office.

“But Duane, what’s it pay?” I can hear you ask.

That will be discussed if I decided to offer him or her the job. I can say it comes with benefits and that compensation has been good enough to keep me around almost two years.

In the meantime, you can help your interim sports guy (that’s me) by letting me know about any sports events that might be going on like Little League and things of that nature that may sometimes fall through the cracks.

Or, if you’d like, send me your sports pictures with names of those in them and I’ll credit you.

So, do you have what it takes to follow a legend at the sports desk? If you think you do, step up and maybe you can help us put the Dream Team back together.

Duane Sherrill is the editor of The Tullahoma News.