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From Carroll to college and back, I'm coming home

In longstanding tradition — especially in Carroll County — families watch their sons and daughters grow, head to college and start a life. And then, eventually, it seems that many of this area's young people decide to return home.

In my case, I didn't expect that time to come so soon.

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My name is Matt Owings. I'm a Carroll County Public Schools graduate, a fan of a good Hoffman's milkshake, a former camp counselor at the Y of Central Maryland, and your newest sports reporter for the Carroll County Times.

Upon graduation last spring from the University of Maryland, College Park with a degree in journalism, I accepted a position with the Baltimore Sun Media Group to cover sports in Howard County.

As many of you know, BSMG purchased both the Carroll County Times and Annapolis Capital earlier this year. When a position opened in my former home, many thought this was the perfect career move for a young reporter looking for more daily writing experience.

With aspirations of one day working on the national sports writers' circuit, we all have to start somewhere. For me, it's local high school sports, and I'm thrilled for the challenge.

Before you, the reader, gets used to seeing my bylines as you sip your morning coffee, I think it's only fitting you get to know Matt Owings first.

So, here goes.

Growing up in this area, I read the Times nearly every morning. I'd rifle through the "boring" pages and skip to the sports section, where I'd get my fill of original Ravens and Orioles reporting, alongside the high school coverage.

At the same time, my passion for sports was at an all-time high. But, thanks to some injuries and a general lack of talent, I needed to find another way to get my fix. (I'm being hard on myself here. I was never that bad at sports. In fact, in my last year of organized baseball, I only struck out once. So what if it was during the last at-bat of my life? I went out with a bang.)

When I enrolled at Maryland, fully aware of its esteemed journalism program, armed with the area's best working reporters as professors, I couldn't help but be excited for what was ahead.

My first "big break" in the industry came with USA Today, where I spent two separate semesters as an intern. The first came my junior year, when I wrote about college athletics. Then, after a few months abroad in Rome, I returned to the company's digital desk as a Web producer/writer.

In my experience, I've covered a little bit of everything. From Wizards and Nationals games, to Army vs. Navy football, to the Howard County fall cheerleading championships, I'm well-versed in just about all that is sports.

That being said, I know I have a lot to learn about when it comes to the actual writing, and I'm especially looking forward to the first email from one of my former high school teachers pointing out a grammatical mistake. The icing on the cake would be if it came from my uncle, who is currently shaping minds at South Carroll High School.

What else is there to know about Matt Owings?

Besides spending my afternoons watching high school sports, I enjoy reading, bingeing on Netflix, keeping up with politics and, believe it or not, cooking. I like to believe I'm the Kobe Bryant of the culinary arts.

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At the very least, my skills are somewhere between Chris Bosh and Chris Kaman.

With this new position, I plan to utilize different reporting techniques while working with the already-stellar cast that currently generates the sports pages of the Times. Still, I know I'm the new guy in town. So no matter how innovative I like to think I am, the learning curve will be steep at first.

I'm told that the job involves writing columns, so expect plenty of rants when it comes to a range of topical problems that get me going, including, but not limited to: pitchers batting in National League ballparks, America's obsession with the Royal Family, people who stand on escalators making it impossible to walk past them, and maybe even Kim Kardashian.

A child of the Web myself, I am also a fan of using social media to communicate with readers, as it gives our content a new medium through which to prosper. I'm a storyteller at heart, so whether it's with a masterfully crafted feature filled with the best diction this side of Md. 140, a highlight video, or even a completely new and inventive way of getting information to the masses, rest assured, I'll try it.

Did I mention I tweet? Follow @MattOwings (as well as @carrollvarsity) for #hotsportstakes and in-game updates.

Look for me out there on the sidelines starting this week, and make sure to say hello. I'm excited for this new opportunity in my life, and I hope to make sure the athletes of Carroll County continue to get the highest quality of sports journalism possible.

At the very least, I know I can always crash at my parents' house if I'm too tired to drive back to Baltimore after a late game.

Get ready to make an extra plate at dinner, mom.

Reach staff writer Matt Owings at 410-857-7893 or sports@carrollcountytimes.com.

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