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And then there were two.

Once the remaining four softball and baseball teams either win titles or get sent home, the high school sports world goes dim for a few months.

I’m not too broken up about it. Maybe a little.

For the past 10 months I’ve been running around trying to capture the highs and lows of the Charlotte and Sarasota County sports scene.

It’s been exhausting, but absolutely rewarding.

When I came to the area in July of last year after a year in north Georgia, I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know the area, the coaches or the teams.

Some people probably feel like I still don’t know anything, but I tend to disagree — most times.

I spent the first few weeks completely lost, but began to find my groove once preseason football began to get going. For anyone that knows me well, that’s my sport — the only one I’m completely comfortable in.

My first taste of prep sports came when I went to Port Charlotte High football practice to do a story on one of its players. I ended up having to find a different story on the spot and did a story on the Pirates’ kicker, who ended up breaking the school record (his brother’s) later that season.

After getting that first one out of the way, I was put at ease.

Throughout the year I’ve built relationships across our area schools, traded jokes and jabs with players, and tried my best to document the defining moments of these young athletes.

The kids are what it’s all about.

I’ve covered a lot of sports in my short career so far and have interviewed a wide range of athletes — Hall of Famers from the ‘85 Bears, major league baseball players, Heisman Trophy winners and MMA fighters — but there’s something special about covering local sports.

For starters, you guys actually care about what I’m writing, which is a plus.

But our stories go far beyond the game itself.

It’s the remembrance of a loved one that passed after making a long-standing impact on a team.

Or a player fighting to get back on the field to spark a big comeback over a rival. Or the journey of a young runner, who uprooted everything to come to America to reunite with his sister.

Sports usually take a back seat for me. That's something my mentor at USF taught me early on in my career.

It’s not about the game, but rather the people who throw the pitches, jump the hurdles and catch the touchdowns. It's about how they got to where they are.

That’s what I hope that I bring to the Sun’s sports coverage. A yearbook of sorts, something people can look back on and remember their glory years down the road.

I do what I can, make mistakes at times. But at my core, I enjoy what I do, and I hope that passion comes across in my writing.

I certainly couldn’t do it without the players, coaches and parents who help build my stories and keep me in check when needed.

It’s been a fun year of writing and, after a much-needed breather over the next month or two once baseball and softball wrap up, I look forward to next year’s moments.

Email Jacob Hoag at jacob.hoag@yoursun.com and follow him on Twitter @ByJacobHoag.

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