It’s often times like these I’m reminded sports are more than just a game. As Alabama baseball’s season comes to a close, I can’t help but feel such a bittersweet sadness. Any enthusiastic sports fan dreads the end of a season, but for me the feeling goes a little deeper than the ending of a NCAA tournament run.

I moved to Tuscaloosa last September to go back to school and move away from home after dealing with some personal things. I had visited T-Town only a handful of times to attend basketball games with only a handful of people I had just met. I’ve said many times before to those that know me, I had that gut feeling every time I was here that this is where I’m supposed to be. I had no direction and no plans. I just knew I needed a change of scenery, a new purpose, and a fresh start.

It wasn’t until this semester I really found my place and niche- being with the Alabama baseball community that embraced me so well.

I had no official affiliation with the program or school. I became a self-proclaimed beat writer, reporter, and talk show co-host for all things Crimson Tide baseball here at Tide 100.9, along with some other spectacular colleagues. I went to every home game this season except for one. I attended every single game played this year in Hoover at the SEC Tournament. Rain delay or blistering heat, I was there. Absolute blowouts and nail bitters, I stayed the whole game. Even after games ended, I sometimes hung around for a bit just to take everything in. I never wanted to leave. I never wanted it to be over. I cannot express my gratitude for the people and opportunities this program has indirectly given me. It may sound crazy to some, but as our final game ended, I found myself in tears.

I’ve never felt closer to such a large group of people I have never actually met. Being at every game, screaming and yelling through all the highs and lows, and meeting coaches and families, will truly hold a special place in my heart forever. I was at such a low point in life personally and as I previously mentioned, I had no idea what I was doing or where I was going.

To anyone reading that was involved in any way at all, please know I will never be able to repay you for making me feel like a part of something so much more than a baseball game or program. I found a home and family amongst some great people here. Every week, all I looked forward to was seeing familiar faces at The Joe and cheering on The Tide. For those three hours, nothing else mattered. No matter how rough of a day I was having, I was instantly greeted by smiling faces, hugs, and unmeasurable knowledge. I am beyond sad this season is over, but ecstatic for the memories I have made.

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To players staying and moving on, thank you for giving me something to believe in. This is just a small piece in all of our lives, but I hope you take the trials and tribulations you’ve endured this season and continue to learn, grow, and keep faith.

To Coach Bo, I’ve only been around this season so I will not pretend I know much history. I have heard from many how far you’ve taken this program and I can’t wait to continue to watch it grow. It is my promise to you and everyone else to build up our fan and student presence. I promise you I will be working on that this off-season and already have many ideas in mind. Thank you for your hard work and dedication to pour your life and time onto others. I can assure you; you’ve inspired more than just those around you.

To everyone that has followed along with me on Twitter, thank you as well. I am merely a fan among everyone else that tweets some crazy things and sometimes overshares. But because of all of this, I have found such a renewed sense of passion and direction with my time here in Tuscaloosa. I am truly blown away by the support I have here and would have never thought in my wildest dreams my gut feelings would bring me to where I am today.

So, here’s to the future and thank you all again! Roll tide!

LOOK: Here are the 50 best beach towns in America

Every beach town has its share of pluses and minuses, which got us thinking about what makes a beach town the best one to live in. To find out, Stacker consulted data from WalletHub, released June 17, 2020, that compares U.S. beach towns. Ratings are based on six categories: affordability, weather, safety, economy, education and health, and quality of life. The cities ranged in population from 10,000 to 150,000, but they had to have at least one local beach listed on TripAdvisor. Read the full methodology here. From those rankings, we selected the top 50. Readers who live in California and Florida will be unsurprised to learn that many of towns featured here are in one of those two states.

Keep reading to see if your favorite beach town made the cut.