A very happy fifth birthday for Grand Strand Sports Report

col-tbuzz-2Happy birthday to us, happy birthday to us, happy birthday dear Grand Strand Sports Report …

Wow, that’s a mouthful of a name, something we were well aware of when we launched the local sports website five years ago today. Fellow founding father Tyler Watkins and I were worried about whether people would take the time to type that many words into their browsers to check us out for the first time. Five years later, thousands of you do so every day.

Like proud parents, Tyler and I are still amazed by what this small experiment has blossomed into over time. The two of us have more than 50 years of combined experience covering sports on the Grand Strand, so when we noticed a trend in the local media toward decreased coverage of high school, club and youth athletics in the area, we decided to try something different.

The concept was simple: Grand Strand sports fans, parents, coaches and groups were so eager for an outlet to highlight local sports that they would be willing to participate in the project by sharing game results, photos and other information in order to highlight the accomplishments of our athletes and teams. We have been overwhelmed by the number of people and the amount of content our readers continue to provide, and we are overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from the community.

The real challenge was getting the word out and getting the ball rolling. Social media and the Internet in general were still  a new concept to many of the traditional newspaper readers and TV viewers in the area, or at the very least they were considered secondary sources of news. But with budget cuts and priority changes at other media outlets having a negative impact on local sports coverage, the time was ripe for something like Grand Strand Sports Report to offer an alternative.

I earlier mentioned that we launched five years ago on Sept. 19, 2011, but the ball actually got rolling a few days early. In order to start with ready-to-go content, we began loading the site a couple of weeks early so it would be full of content from Day 1, but the word got out and, much to our surprise, we started seeing visitors stumble across us online and quickly¬† spread the word. That’s when we knew we were on to something, and that our readers would help get the word out about us.

But our big splash came a couple of months later, when Coastal Carolina made the surprising mood to fire founding football coach David Bennett. The secretive search had everyone scratching their heads when a hastily called press conference to name the new coach was set less than 24 hours before the unveiling. With the help of our friends, we were the only local media outlet to get the scoop on Joe Moglia, and we waited till almost midnight to post it to avoid other outlets from following our lead. We awoke the next morning to find that thousands had read the story and discovered our site literally overnight.

I would say the rest of history, but it’s also the present and future. Over the years we have covered some incredible stories, teams and athletes – from high school and club state championships to more than 200 features of Mammy’s Kitchen Athletes of the Week. From the Myrtle Beach All-Stars’ trip to the Dixie Youth World Series to the Coastal Carolina baseball team’s run to the College World Series championship this summer, that range continues to be the sweet spot for our home-run coverage. We want to thanks all those who have helped us in so many ways, and we look forward to having more happy birthdays to come.

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