OK…so state of the site.
I did promise this. It’s kinda long (I do that).
Let’s start with what we know:
1. Today is roughly (though perhaps not exactly) the start of our 10th year. We rolled out the site on Labor Day in 2013. A lot was different then. My third son was still here in Florida, attending Mandarin (where he studied government under Larry Yudin, who was the first coach to invite me to come watch wrestling here). My fourth son was in middle school then; he’s in his fourth year of college now, in Maryland. I was in a relationship then, said relationship being the reason I moved here.
2. We grew. A LOT. We started with the coverage area of the Florida Times-Union newspaper, because they weren’t covering the sport at all (sadly, things have returned to that state, although for several years I was providing them with content). We then added Flagler, Alachua and Putnam Counties in 2014. We added the Tallahassee/Panhandle area in 2015. We added Volusia, Seminole and Marion Counties in 2019. Last year, we made the coverage area all of Region 1, adding nearly (at least) a third of the Orlando metro area. We started with 40 teams 10 years ago. We now cover 100. The kids moved, and the relationship, well…I’ll just say it didn’t follow the original plan.
3. Although we grew a lot, our commitment to HS coverage did not lessen. True, I had to take a step back on our college coverage, a step I did not want to take and still don’t. But given the realities of the situation, the only way I could keep doing college writeups was to outsource them (and pay whoever I outsourced them to). Or I could not do college coverage, which is what I chose to do. I simply can’t cover all of my requirements of life and pay someone else to do #NextLevel coverage, and it’s unfair to ask someone else to volunteer FOR me. If there is another path to getting #NextLevel coverage restarted, I’m willing to hear that idea out.
Here’s what I can tell you about going forward:
1. We are adding new tools to our coverage. I’ve teased to this a couple of times on various social media, so now I’m going to announce it. We have built preliminary career wins lists for all wrestlers in the coverage area that are eligible to return in 2022-23. Currently, Jayce Paridon (Fleming Island) has a 23-win lead over Hagerty’s Kamdon Harrison and Suwannee’s Austin Howard for overall wins in career among active (eligible to return) coverage-area wrestlers. We could also, during this upcoming year, see a wrestler with both 100 wins and 100 losses in their career.
2. To that end, we’ve built a spreadsheet listing every eligible, by team, whether they have zero wins or Paridon’s 163 (based upon my numbers I’ve built over the last several seasons). We’re adding career post-season performances for every single wrestler eligible to come back this year, regardless of whether they’re a returning state champion or whether they’re still searching for their first win at districts.
3. While we don’t know the FHSAA’s classification scheme for 2022-23 yet, I can tell you we will once again cover every team in Region 1 this coming year. Teams that are classified into another region will be invited to stay with us, under the condition that all results for every varsity event that they compete in be submitted to us.
Now for some of the things that are less clear and the things that are weighing on me as we go into year 10:
1. Folks, it’s very simple. I can’t keep working for free. It’s been nine full seasons, soon to start a 10th. This summer, like the previous couple before it, there hasn’t been a single off-day. Not one. We posted our last thank-you post to our sponsors on June 10. Since June 10, we wrote 116 posts to the website. One special one on a highlight video of Lincoln grad Gus Altenburg. Six #TheCalendar posts, where coaches sent their schedules to me. A total of 45 “offseason” competition results posts of various stripes, including local events, Disney and Fargo, among many others (and there could have been more but not every area tournament organizer sent me their results). And 64 #TheSeason posts — which serve as scouting reports for the community, nearly two-thirds of the coverage area in all. I have received not dollar one for those 116 pieces of work. No donations since early June.
You don’t work for free. The others who cover this sport in this state don’t do it (entirely) for free.
2. My job was relatively easy for me to do wrestling work until September of last year. So it was easy for me to keep all of our content free-use for you. In September of last year, however, my boss added a function to my workday that, one email at a time, are relatively easy to complete. However, I have to read close to 200 emails, on average, per day now that I did not have to before.
This not only cuts into daytime work that once went to the site and your kids, but puts a lot more mental and physical strain on me so that when I am “done” with my “workday,” I’m often exhausted.
3. When I started this, I promised you all that none of my content would be paywalled. I have honored that and continue to intend to honor that. That said, there are only two ways for that promise to continue to be upheld. One is to reduce the size of the coverage area back to some previous level. That isn’t fair to whatever area would be left behind. The other is for donations to increase. I’ve had a couple of corporate inquiries but nothing really serious has happened yet. I can’t be going months at a stretch without a single donation (the ways to donate to me are at the bottom of this post, as they are noted at the bottom of almost every post I write).
This has to change if the site is to keep going beyond a 10th season. It is non-negotiable.
So, while the future is uncertain for everyone, for multiple reasons on multiple fronts, we know we will be here in Florida to complete another year of quality coverage for your kids. How comfortable I am or will be while I’m doing it is largely up to you. We are averaging, as we begin our 10th year, around 570 posts per year. That’s 3 posts for every 2 days, every day, going back to Labor Day of 2013. Your donations have fueled that. And I continue to be grateful for them.