I used to be your kid.
That kid on the local competitive team, with three practices a week, a game at 8 a.m. Saturday morning and then a tournament during Christmas break.
That was me: a short, skinny soccer player spending too much time at the Rec Center on Collier Parkway.
Perhaps I still am. Sure I'm older, though not that much taller. I grew up in these Little Leagues and soccer teams, and surely enough, I recognize kids who I could have sworn were just in diapers.
I'm also that hometown hero. I'm that guy you knew in high school who just couldn't leave. I grew up in Pasco County, and despite some effort, it looks like I'm here to stay.
Am I angry or sad? Not one bit.
I've come to love this area. Recently, I've seen it more than triple in size, and like a blob, it just continues to grow, leaching to any piece of available land beyond the highway formerly known as the Road to Nowhere (a.k.a. Bruce B. Downs Boulevard).
But now I have responsibility - one that, gratefully, keeps me working in my town.
I'm the community sports editor in Pasco and Hernando counties for the St. Petersburg Times. But this isn't about me.
It's about your kids now. It's about your community sports, about your weekend adult league, about your Wednesday evening bowl-a-thon, where you picked up a shiny, first-place trophy.
It's about that and more. We at the Times are looking to you - yes, you there who had the best time in his or her age bracket in last weekend's 10K run.
We want to know what's going on in your wide world of sports, from the softball league that meets Friday nights to the Sunday morning bike runs that you look forward to while at your job.
When I was a kid, there used to be limited coverage of community sports. I'd get the occasional mention in the paper about how my soccer team did in a tournament. It wasn't much, but I still have those newspaper clippings, curled and yellowed in a scrapbook.
But we need your help. These are big counties that keep growing. We need you to tell us what's going on, tell us what's happening, because we want to know. We want to put it in the paper.
Don't you want to see your kid's name in the paper? I know my parents did.
What about when you break a local club's record for most laps done in the Olympic-sized pool? Or when you hit a 7-iron closest to the pin and won a steak dinner?
Tell us. We want to know. We want to tell the community about you. We want to make you popular around the water cooler or in the produce aisle of the grocery store.
I know this area. I know these people. I know that these kids are me.
This area likes coverage of the community, of the everyday people who are your neighbor, and we want to - I want to - give back to this community.
I am here for this community.
I am this community.
Mike Camunas can be reached at email@example.com or (352) 544-9480.