Clinton, South Carolina, Wednesday, February 25, 2015, 10:30 a.m.
Understandably, the Daytona 500 dominated my weekend. It wasn’t the whole weekend. I’ve got a new writing gig at Bleacher Report, and late last week all the T’s were crossed and I’s dotted, and then, on race morning, I looked over a contract, signed it, scanned it, and emailed it back to the home office in Winnemucca, Nevada.
Just kidding. I was thinking about the old Letterman routine. Winnemucca may be the home of a media empire, but Bleacher Report is in San Francisco.
Saturday was a marvelous day. I spent all morning writing about NASCAR, then I hustled up to Spartanburg to write 500 words about a women’s basketball game between Florida Gulf Coast and USC Upstate for the Fort Myers News-Press. It was my second assignment for that paper. Someone referred me when FGCU’s men’s team visited USCU earlier in the year. The women’s game carried some significance in that the Eagles were bidding for their 20th consecutive victory and their coach, Karl Smesko, his 400th career win. FGCU was also attempting to clinch the Atlantic Sun Conference regular-season championship, which it did, 75-59.
The Eagles’ red-shirt junior guard, Whitney Knight, was splendid. She is 6-3, which means she both anchors the offense and covers the other team’s biggest player on defense. She swooped up and down the court like some gigantic bird of prey, driving to the basket but also popping 3-pointers with dazzling efficiency. She scored 26 points, hit six of nine from behind the arc, and grabbed eight rebounds while playing all but the final two minutes.
Watching her play was exhilarating.
Smesko is an unassuming man, which contrasted with his spectacular player, of whom he said, “Whit (Knight) is an exceptional talent. She made a lot of big shots for us. Excellent percentage, hit big shots. She played great. Her teammates found her when she was open and she knocked them down.
“It was an exceptional performance on a day when we needed one.”
By the way, the Eagles left Spartanburg 25-2 and got there ranked No. 22 in the nation. That’s Division I.
The game couldn’t have been easier to cover. The Spartans never got hopelessly behind nor did they get closer than 10 points after the first ten minutes. The story wrote itself. Adding quotes was like adding water to instant pudding, then giving it a few minutes to thicken. I was out of there in no time.
When I got back to the car, the Xfinity Series race in Daytona Beach was in its latter stages, so I dropped by a favorite restaurant for dinner. I had chicken-fried steak. When I finished and started heading home, about a half-hour drive, I managed to discern from a distant radio feed that there were sixteen laps remaining in Daytona. Most of the drive home was spent with the race under a red flag. When I got back, I turned on the TV, and there were still nine laps remaining.
That took a while, too.
You can read my short fiction at www.wellpilgrim.wordpress.com, and my books are available here: http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1