By Lee Wardlaw [email protected]
CLAY COUNTY – As I’m starting Clay Today, I wanted to tell you a little bit about myself. I’m a 26 year old reporter from Columbia, South Carolina. I graduated from the University of South Carolina in 2019 with an advanced degree in multimedia journalism, but my journey in the industry began long before that.
My first role was with Bleacher Report from 2009-2012, where I covered collegiate and pro football.
But Bleacher Report was just the beginning for me. I now have 13 years of experience as a sportswriter, four of which overlap as a news reporter. My author has been featured in over 10 publications including Fansided, Front Porch Football, The Daily Gamecock, South Carolina Public Radio, Cola Daily, The Daniel Island News, Fits News , The Florida Keys Free Press, Rivals, and now The. clay today!
During my time on the newsroom, I’ve covered more than 60 news and sporting events, with my writer appearing in cities such as Columbia and Charleston, South Carolina, as well as Key Largo, Key West and Miami.
I’ve written on several important topics including the 2020 presidential election and the 2019 Thursday night Carolina vs. Tampa Bay football game featuring former FSU quarterback Jameis Winston.
Most recently, at The Florida Keys Free Press in Key Largo, I co-wrote localized state, national and international news topics including state tourism, the affordable housing crisis, the gas price crisis that hit the highest price points in the history of the US and Ukraine wars a US refugee who fled to safety in Islamorada in February, leaving his home, car and community behind.
The Village of Islamorada’s hotly contested politics and local artists, musicians, restaurants and residents were part of my weekly coverage, which also covered nonprofits, the auction of the island chain’s six lighthouses, and other issues that define the Keys and southern Florida unique, including deep-sea fishing tournaments, hurricanes, shark attacks, dolphin rescues, coral reefs, the python problem in Everglades National Park, and wild stories from residents like John Lincoln, who lived in the Keys and hand-built a boat in Indonesia and sailed the Borneo Princess across it South China Sea from Indonesia to China before boarding a cargo ship to his new home in Key Largo.
Prior to my time in Key Largo, I covered several relevant topics in my home state of Palmetto, including duck hunting, turkey hunting, and relevant state industries such as agriculture, forestry, and state infrastructure, city services, residential and commercial real estate in The Daniel Island News and Cola Daily. While working at Daniel Island News, I managed freelance reporting on South Carolina, Clemson, Carolina Panthers and Coastal Carolina Football, and also spent time covering high school football and basketball features and all Gamecocks sports at Cola Daily.
I am a proud southerner and outdoorsman who thoroughly enjoys duck and squirrel hunting and catfish fishing. I have harvested 33 species of fish, birds and animals during my time in the forest and on the water. An avid supporter of the University of South Carolina, I even served as mascot “Cocky” for baseball, softball, and other community events in 2015-2016.
I’m always busy writing, but I enjoyed a gap year in 2021 when I was a ranch hand at A-Bar-A Guest Ranch in Wyoming. I also spent two months in Baton Rouge, Louisiana freelancing, fishing the Mississippi River and exploring Cajun Country.
When I’m not busy writing for Clay Today, I will pursue my part-time passion for sports. I still work as a freelance editor for Rivals.com’s high school site South Carolina Gamecocks and Palmetto Preps. I have a network of coaches and student athletes in 18 states. And I’ve attended top scouting camps, including one held at the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium in 2021.
My knowledge has expanded to Jacksonville, so I’d be happy to discuss high school players with Gators, Seminoles, and Bulldogs fans, but I’m much more concerned with writing the main topics and interests and to report to Clay County.
With that in mind, feel free to contact me at [email protected] or message me directly at Lee Wardlaw on Facebook or @RivalsWardlaw on Twitter.
I will promptly set up an in-person or phone interview with residents for field stories. You tell the stories of great Clay County, and without you there would be no way to fill the pages of the newspaper.
The issues that are important to you are also important to me.