The past 12 months have been one of the most positively eventful periods in my sportswriting career.
The highlight of 2013, for me, was undoubtedly when my peers in the West Virginia Sports Writers Association elected me to replace Doug Huff as the group's secretary/treasurer. Huff has been in that position since I began reading the sports section in the Wheeling News-Register when I was young. He has been "The Guy" for the WVSWA for decades, handling so much of the organization's paperwork, organizing the annual Victory Awards Dinner - which this year will be at the Charleston Civic Center on May 4 - and keeping records of all sorts for Mountain State prep sports.
There was always one column each year that Huff wrote that I actually looked forward to ahead of time when he was the Sports Editor in Wheeling: His annual Christmas list.
Now, a Christmas list is not a requirement of the WVSWA secretary/treasurer, and I really doubt anyone would ever mistake me for Santa Claus, but as the WVSWA says goodbye to Huff as a longtime leader, I remember that imitation is the greatest form of flattery.
With that, here's what's in the goodie bag for 2013:
Bob Allen - A Mountain East Conference title with a strong contingent of home-grown softball players such as Dee Dee Loftis, Mariah Caudill, Bekah Baldwin, Madi McGrew, Hannah Griffith and Ali Haynes.
Cal Bailey - Going out in a blaze of glory in his final season as the record-breaking coach of the West Virginia State baseball team.
J.R. Bradley - A jumpstart to his professional baseball career with the Hillsboro Hops.
Josh Caldwell - A second trip to the state tournament for the Hurricane softball team that is just as productive as the Redskins' first appearance.
Capital soccer - An invitation to participate in the City Cup.
Jon Carpenter - An offer to replace anybody but Ron White on the Blue Collar Comedy Tour and Capital's first trip to the Super Six since 1996.
Josh Daniel - As much success as a high school coach as he enjoyed as a high school player.
Tino DiTrapano - The ability to move into a leadership role with the University of Charleston men's basketball program.
Aaron Dobson - The elusive Super Bowl ring that Randy Moss never got.
Steve Edwards Jr. - Longevity to secure 48 more wins and become the winningest coach in Kanawha County football history.
Pierria Henry - A berth in the big dance with Charlotte as he moves up the ladder on the 49ers' all-time steals list.
Dana Holgorsen - A quarterback. There's one at Madonna he might like that Pitt has taken a shine to.
Doc Holliday - A hand rest for post-game press conferences, and a Conference USA championship game in Huntington.
Scott James - A championship season in any St. Albans sport he coaches, an honor befitting one of the most positive influences on area student-athletes.
Kanawha County Board of Education - Realization that middle school sports are not rec. league sports and that playing time does not need regulated or divided evenly.
Bill McClanahan - At least one more trip to the State Tournament for his Charleston Catholic boys basketball team.
Annette Olenchick - A successful and happy return to high school coaching with the South Charleston softball program.
Riverside High School - Patience with and continuity within its athletic department.
Jordan Roberts - A trip to the Grey Cup after a standout season north of the border with the CFL's Ottawa Redblacks.
Mike Sawyer - An uneventful 2014 preseason so Buffalo can return to the Class A playoffs led by Jordan Tucker.
Missy Smith - Some timely hitting to get Herbert Hoover to the softball State Tournament.
Ed Smolder - Continued momentum at Sissonville to turn the Indians into a playoff regular.