No one is ever too old to send a Christmas wish list to Santa Claus, right?
So I recently sat down and penned my wants, folded the note nicely into an envelope, addressed it for the North Pole and slapped a 50-cent stamp on it. Because snail mail doesn't come with a "notify sender of receipt" function, I can't be certain jolly ol' St. Nick actually received it.
If he didn't, maybe he will see this and deliver some holiday cheer.
For Jirehl Brock, good health. The Quincy High School all-state running back has the opportunity to be an impact player at Iowa State. He has the right mix of talent, work ethic and desire to be on the of the best backs in the Big 12 Conference in due time.
All he needs is to stay healthy, which is not the easiest thing to do in a collision sport. Should good health be added to all his other gifts, he might end up playing in Sundays someday.
For the Quincy soccer community, another ambassador like Jack Mackenzie. Not only did the late Quincy University men's soccer coach pile up victories, championships and honors that gave him legendary status, but he made the sport, this community and the QU student-athletes a priority.
His passing meant Quincy lost one of the truly good ones. Finding someone to fill that void won't be easy, but this passionate soccer community knows it has a guardian angel.
For high school football and basketball fans, earlier start times for games. This has everything to do with the future generation of Blue Devils, Raiders, Panthers and Pirates. They become invested in watching the likes of Brock, Nick Schwartz, C.E. Talton and Dezi Jones and want to follow in their footsteps.
But when games don't start on time, the grade school kids aren't there at the end to high-five their heroes or ask for an autograph. They deserve to see their idols before, during and after a game.
For referees, umpires and officials at all levels of amateur play, more help. This area is blessed with officials devoted to helping develop the game and teaching the players about respect, sportsmanship and fair play. There just aren't enough officials to go around.
Developing younger officials who understand the rules and regulations but also bring pride and personality to their craft is a must.
For high school sports, more coaches and teachers like Zach Short. He changed his career path, left the area he grew up and deeply loves and has made a huge impact on the student-athletes at Knox County. Short does it the right way. He's invested. He's energetic. He's passionate. He's approachable. And above all else, he cares. If every school and every program had someone like Short on its staff, every day would be a win, no matter the outcome on the scoreboard.
For Quincy University football coach Gary Bass and his staff, a healthy running back. The Hawks haven't had a starting tailback last an entire season since Chris Harris was named the GLVC Freshman of the Year in 2014 when he rushed for 974 yards and averaged 18.3 carries per game. Last year, Theo Hopkins led the Hawks with 77 total carries, and he was a converted defensive back. The Hawks need a workhorse back who can be a gamechanger and avoid the injury bug.
For Missouri football coach Barry Odom, a signature victory to quiet the critics. In three seasons as head coach, Odom has led the Tigers to two bowl games and an overall winning record. Yet, midway through each of the last two years, fans have questioned whether Odom should be fired. His success in the wake of so much on-campus turmoil is impressive, but a victory over an SEC heavyweight in the first half of next season would shut everyone up.
For the newspaper industry, a rebirth. I grew up reading this newspaper daily, subscribed to three newspapers throughout college and stop in almost every town during road trips my wife to buy a newspaper. It's painful to see newspapers across the nation fold because they tell the story of our past and need to remain part of our future. Being called a journalist is a badge of honor and hopefully always will be.
And for you and yours, a healthy, happy and harmonious holiday.