Almost instinctively, I would wake up before my alarm clock, turning it off, debating whether I should spend five more minutes in bed.

It was an easy decision for me, even though it was 3:30 in the morning, sleeping in a small efficiency apartment, one without air conditioning, served as the impetus for me to go forward, providing me with all the motivation I needed.

The cold water from the faucet and the strong smell of coffee permeating the heavy air in the kitchen ended any debate I may have had.

I would make my lunch, preparing for a day, one that would be spent in the company of Thoroughbred horses, whose bloodlines and auction prices, far outweighed whatever menial contribution I would make at a farm, an experience that taught me the meaning of teamwork, respect, hard work, humility, inspiration and passion.

The drive to the farm would find me making a stop at a convenience store, where I would look at the publications on the newspaper rack, including the daily racing digest, grab another cup of coffee and more often than not a hot sandwich.

I would find my way to the farm, arriving at the barn I had been assigned to, where there were already a number of cars parked outside. Grooms, barn foreman, exercise riders and assistant trainers, made their presence known as I made my way to the center aisle. It was my job to set the feed, it was now 5:15, and the pace would be intense for the next five hours. Sunrise was almost two hours away.

The activity around the barn would be fast paced, catching stalls, getting shavings, filling feed and water buckets, throwing flakes of alfalfa in stalls, holding horses in the wash rack or the stall, reading the dry erase board to see what horses were going out in what set, watching the exercise riders tack up the horses, come out of the stall, make their way to the shedrow and going out to the track, washing saddle pads and polo wraps, unwrapping bandages and polo wraps, raking the shedrow, etc...

We worked until noon. I would often bring a book and read during the two hour siesta, or watch the farrier or veterinarian as they worked to keep the horses healthy and sound.

And then, it was back for two more hours, to water, feed, watching the horses being walked around the shedrow, and admiring the beauty and power they possess.

It’s an experience that will remain an inherent part of my character. But there was something calling me back to another passion, a discipline that I had spent the preponderance of my professional life.

A return to a newsroom, one where I would be able to embrace a community, provide detailed, compelling narratives about the residents of an area, sharing their stories with a welcoming audience, whose insight and commentary would help me navigate through unfamiliar channels, while learning about the history, the characteristics endemic to a place that make it unique and compose the rhythmical vibration of its pulse.

And that’s why I’m now at the Charlotte Sun. I’d like to learn more about the area, its people and its stories, the ones that will resonate and inspire our readers, transform lives and continue to shape the character of a community that has so much to offer its residents.

And if you’re interested in writing about sports, please email me at bbaugh@sun-herald.com.

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