How sports journalist Ken Sugiura presses on

Growing up in Northfield, Illinois, Thursdays were a special day of the week for me. That was the day that the mailman – for many years, a friendly man named Jesse – delivered the weekly issue of Sports Illustrated.

I probably couldn’t have articulated then why the magazine captivated me so fully. “I guess because I like sports,” I might have said, briefly glancing up at my questioner through my thick nerd glasses before returning to a profile of Walter Payton. But I can say now that it was the colorful storytelling and brilliant reporting and writing about the games and sports figures that I obsessed over that drew me in every week.

In a career at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that is now — and this is hard to believe for many reasons — in its third decade, I have aspired to tell the stories of the athletes, coaches and teams that I’ve covered in ways that hopefully inform and stir readers in the same way that I once was as a young reader.

In recent months in my position covering Georgia Tech, that has included a profile of Yellow Jackets defensive back Juanyeh Thomas, a delightful young man who wouldn’t allow his speech impediment to deter him from representing his team at the ACC Kickoff media event, where the primary obligation was talking virtually nonstop for several hours. The assignment of the fall has been filing daily reports of Tech football coach Geoff Collins’ third season, a three-month drama with a new episode dropping every Saturday.

To do the job well requires, among many skills — an observant eye, a curious spirit, a willingness to ask difficult questions and the trust of people who can take you where the stories are — all undergirded by a commitment to truth and fairness. The encouraging emails I’ve received from readers over the years tell me that hopefully I’ve hit the mark more often than not.

It also requires the support of our subscribers. For the sports section, for example, we have writers covering the Braves, Falcons, Hawks, Atlanta United, Tech and Georgia, going wherever they go and delivering stories with insight, nuance and color. Among metropolitan newspapers, it’s increasingly uncommon to cover so many teams with full-time beat writers, and the commitment that the AJC has made to do so produces the most comprehensive coverage of those teams that you’ll find anywhere. In no small part, that has happened because your subscriptions have fueled our mission.

To all of our subscribers, I offer my deepest thanks, and I invite more readers to join with them. Your continued support enables my talented and committed colleagues and I to bring truth to light and share the most compelling stories of our city and region.

Please support the work of your journalists. Start a subscription today. If you’re already a subscriber, thank you. With your support, we can keep you informed with real, fact-based news. It’s worth knowing what’s really going on.