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Ready for it? WCSA ranking Top 10 of 2021 starting Wednesday

Although it really doesn’t feel like it, we’ll soon be flipping the calendar over to 2022. Maybe it’s the never-ending COVID shadow that seems to make everything run together but, for me, it doesn’t feel like we should be embarking on a new year. It definitely doesn’t feel like I have had a website for a full calendar year, but we’re about to close down our 17th month, which was highlighted by us surpassing 1,000 stories sometime early this month or maybe in late November (along with just shy of 700 total subscription purchases – I can’t thank all of y’all enough and I hope we double that next year!).

Like it or not, I guess it’s time for us all to channel our inner Taylor Swifts and start feeling 22. 2022 that is.

(Side note: I didn’t realize I knew a lot of Taylor Swift songs until the last 2-3 weeks when she blew back up for dragging Jake Gyllenhaal with the 10-minute ‘All Too Well.’ Since then, her music has been in my YouTube playlist because I watched the video – let’s say, a few times – and I kept getting “new” songs and saying, “That’s Taylor?” when I knew all the words. Also, my mom hated the 10-minute All Too Well video and told me not to write about her hating it. Sorry mom.)

Anyway, back to the end-of-the-year thing. Although I’m always pumped to look back at all the things we’ve enjoyed in Warren County sports over the last 365 days, one thing I dread is assembling a top-10 list. When you’re a committee of 1 (and I am, even though I could never do this without Ansley Mullican Murphree, Trevor Evans and Geoff Griffin), everybody knows these are my decisions and they’ll get mad at me if they don’t like my order or what I omit.

I’m sorry! I wish I could tell you have some grading system to split these things out every year, but I don’t. It’s really a gut feeling for what I felt like was the biggest news in the moment – the games, accomplishments or breaking news that had fanbases buzzing for days and weeks after.

I probably could use post views as a barometer, both on my site and on social media, but I can tell you that wouldn’t give anybody in Warren County a No. 1 in 2021 that they wanted. Without question, the biggest story I broke on the WCSA this year was the termination of Tyler Sapp in Van Buren County (and his subsequent reinstatement as girls coach). It’s not many times that my stories get picked up nationally or cause an entire school system to reverse course on a decision, but I’ve had plenty of people tell me they really don’t think Sapp would be the coach at VBCHS right now if I didn’t publish that story.

After that, it was a few Simmons Says columns (the most popular being my ‘Don’t Come at the King,’ diss shot at my competitors for trying to boast about their work over mine) and a lot of political stories. Even Monday’s non-sports story – Directions for the next Parks and Rec Director – topped 1,000 views within 12 hours.

The lesson? If I ever expanded the WCSA to become the Warren County News Authority, I’m pretty sure I’d have the most read media outlet in the county within 18 months (if not 18 days). Funny enough, I’ve had several people approach me about partnering in the venture or offering me capital to get it started, but so far I’ve declined. However, we will be covering election information in 2022 and you never know when I’m going to come off the top rope on something going on in the county.

OK, OK – I keep getting sidetracked. Back to the Top 10 list again.

I went through the last few days and tried to assemble all the things I thought were highlights of sports achievement in Warren County or stories that nobody wanted to miss in 2021. I did use all my metrics for page views on the WCSA website, Facebook and Twitter to see the highest viewed things to see if it matched up with my instincts and – for the most part – I think I arrived at a pretty good list. Also, there’s this one caveat I can always pull – I’ll just cheat the list if I want to.

There may be top stories that are really 3-4 events wrapped in one, but as long as I can tie them together, I’ll list them as one to get my full top 10 in order. Now, you’re probably asking, “If you have 20-30 stories you think are worthy, why not have a top 20 or top 30?” That’s perfectly valid and my answer would be – I don’t know. It’s probably because I think about assembling the top 10 right before Christmas every year. If I’d start thinking about it around Thanksgiving, I could do a top 31 and put one out every day of December (somebody bookmark that and remind me on Turkey Day 2022, please).

Of course, there would be a risk with that too. What happens if you start a top 30 countdown in December and something happens during the month that would have to be on the list? That actually happened to me one year with the top 10 – it was the year Boyd and Warren County finally met up in boys basketball.

Back in 2013, I compiled the top 10 list on a Friday night so it could run in a Sunday paper, but the Pioneers and Broncos played that Saturday – just a few days before the ball dropped and brought in the new year. Even though that game was a stinker (I need to get Chris Sullens on the pod soon so we can bring that back up and maybe get a good story about his hiring at WCHS right after that season), it belonged in the top 10 that year based on the build-up alone.

I guess this has been a long way of saying that Top 10 lists are hard to compile and they’re probably never perfect, but I try to do my best to show everybody love and capture the essence of the year over the final 10 days of December. I’ll begin putting out the stories, starting with No. 10 and going all the way to No. 1, on Wednesday and you’ll know the top moment by the time you’re partying with friends next Friday.

If I can leave you with a sneak peak, I’ll just say that the list doesn’t have a Love Story, but has some games that I couldn’t have created in my Wildest Dreams. There will be no Blank Spaces because you’ll be Enchanted by each selection. Some rankings may build Bad Blood between schools, but hopefully they’ll Shake It Off instead of turning Red in the face. It’ll capture moments that left fans Breathless and times where Pioneers, Broncos and Lions were Fearless. If you’re a true local sports nut, you’ll probably remember every accomplishment All Too Well.

And by Jan. 1, 2022, I’ll start to Begin Again on another top 10 list and we’ll be Back to December in no time.

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