To understand why this website is now a thing, it’s important to know that I had a hard time liking college basketball in the late 1990s.

It was nothing against the sport itself. I’ve loved basketball since I was a kid. I’ve loved the pace of the game, the noise of a crowded arena, the energy a breakaway dunk can give a home crowd. But, when I arrived in Athens, Ga., in the fall of 1996, you can say that I was a little underwhelmed by, well, all of it.

That’s not the fault of that particular Georgia men’s basketball team. Far from it. That team, actually, was pretty good by Bulldog standards. You see, I was spoiled.

My teen years were defined by a high school program with a starting five that could have given some mid-majors a run for their money. One that won state titles, had two All-American players and finished ranked nationally by USA Today. Our home games conjured up images of Cameron Indoor or Rupp Arena, except we did it every Tuesday and Friday, and we could probably only cram a few hundred folks into our tiny gym.

You can ask dang near anyone I went to high school with for their favorite memories from those days, and most of them will say it was watching Westside play basketball.

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It was loud, it was fun, and it all centered around some of the best basketball that I’ve ever seen.

For nearly 25 years, I’ve tried to tell people what it was like. That it was a moment in time unlike very few things I’ve ever experienced as a fan. One game in 1995 encapsulated all of that energy, drama and emotion, and I’ve wanted to tell its story for a long time.

But why stop at one game or one personality or one moment? Because I’m surely not alone in this, right? That there are countless chapters in a broader story that we should learn about, talk about and remember why they meant so much to us.

So, with that bit of background out of the way, welcome to Beyond The Trestle.

That name may sound familiar to some of y’all, but the older version is gone. This is a brand new storytelling project, designed to remember, share, engage and, at times, challenge us around the history, culture and context of sports here in the South and, in particular, Georgia.

But it won’t be just me writing about these things. BTT has a great team of storytellers to get us going.

Joe VanHoose has written about the food, culture and sports of the South, particularly BBQ and racing. Marc Lancaster has covered Georgia football and Cincinnati Reds and Tampa Bay Rays baseball, while also serving as the sports editor at a metro daily newspaper.

We don’t necessarily need BTT to just be our voices. We envision this being a place where writers can write. We want people who don’t look like us, don’t necessarily think like us and don’t come from the same places we come from to be a part of this. It’ll take time to get there, but that’s our mission, and y’all can help.

Here’s how …

  • Give us a read. We’re pretty excited about what we’re doing here, and we’re putting in the time to track down the right folks, research what happened and share these stories. We hope you like them and share them with your networks.
  • Sign up for our email list. We’ll send you updates on when new stories are shared to BTT, as well as offer a little extra context on why we wrote about what we did.
  • Support us. We’ve set up a Patreon account, and we’re asking for those who like what we’re doing to pitch in $5 a month. We’ll use that money in a variety of ways, including offsetting some administrative costs, building up a pool to attract and pay guest contributors, and helping out with the investments our team is making here.

About that last part …

BTT is going to be free and open to anyone who wants to read it, but we definitely would appreciate you helping us out so we can do the work needed here. It is an investment of time and resources on our end, and pitching in $5 a month – pretty much the cost of that cup of Starbucks some of y’all enjoy so much – can go a long way for us.

We also have some plans to add some additional value to our Patreon subscribers in the coming months, including exclusive content for them. We’ll be sharing some thoughts around that in the next few weeks.

For now, enjoy our first batch of stories. At the beginning of each month we’ll publish a new edition for you, and we’ll update it with additional stories in the following weeks.

So, poke around the website and check out what we’ve been working on. There are a lot of good stories out there, and we’re looking forward to telling them.

This article took a lot of time and energy to produce. If you like it, please consider supporting us on Patreon.
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Johnathan McGinty has worked in sports journalism and sports public relations for the past 20 years. If there's an opportunity to put together an oral history on something, he'll find a way to do it.