By Alicia Couch Payne

I am Alicia Couch Payne, the managing editor for The North Gwinnett Voice and I had no idea what was in store for me when I signed on the dotted line.  As I was thinking of what I was going to tell you about the paper and my time as it’s editor, my experiences kept rolling through my head.  Not the ethereal type of reflections so often seen in the movies. No folks, my reflections replay like a blooper reel. Just read and see why.  

My main goals in signing up for this paper were to help preserve the traditions of Buford as well as showcase our area youth and all the good things they do.  To be that keepsake that them and their families can cherish. Throughout my time as editor, I have done my best to keep these two goals in mind. At times the keeping of those goals has landed me in some pretty interesting situations.

This job has challenged me and taken me out of my comfort zone.  It has made me learn things about myself as well as this area. I have met so many amazing people many of which I now call friend.  I have also been able to rekindle old friendships. The need for writers and photographers meant I had to become a proficient writer and learn photography.  I never knew I would love to take photographs as much as I do. I was horrible in the beginning but with some help from a few people and plenty of practice, I can get some good shots.  

Speaking of photography……it has led to a few of my most memorable moments since joining the NGV crew.  I never thought I was a magnet for trouble before. I have put myself in some dicey situations to get the perfect shot.  I have taken photos in my robe during the big December snow, about fell into Suwanee Creek, dodged traffic, been shoved by other photographers, sprinted from the field goal post all the way to the top of the press box to catch the start of half-time (that is a feat for me at 5’1”), been trampled by four large dogs, cheered on our sports team because they needed the morale boost, cheered on a good play instead of capturing the perfect shot, dodged basketballs and basketball players, walked down a parade route in my elf costume taking photos of the parade spectators,  chased more people down to corale them to get the photo I need than I can count, gone out in the middle of the night when the streets were empty so once again I could capture the perfect photo feeling like a criminal up to no good (Praying no cop would stop me because even though I wasn’t committing a crime, I know I looked guilty as hell.), and all of this doesn’t include my biggest nemesis.

Alicia + photography + football = Alicia is in trouble.  It all started at a home game at Tom Riden Stadium when Buford hosted Paulding County.  I was on the sidelines doing my thing, snapping away when I noticed how close the play was getting to me.  By the time my delayed alarm bells sounded in my head, it was too late for me to successfully escape. I chose to take a tackle head on instead of turning to run.  I was hit by one Paulding County player and three Buford players. They hit me in the left shin and I hit the ground on my left side. I decided to let the momentum carry me so I tucked and rolled with it.  The force was so strong I was able to do a complete flip and come back up onto my feet before anyone could try to help me up. The camera never touched the ground. Right afterwards, I went to the top of the press box and was informed by the Rowdies that I was voted “Best tackle of the night.”  I have yet to live that one down. I have also been knocked backwards by field barriers at the Havoc games. Being so short I am always right up on the barriers. Those were the main incidents but I have had many other close calls.

I would redo getting hit a million times over for this job.  I love this town and I feel I am performing a necessary service to this community.  I am truly thankful for the position I have been put into. I am blessed beyond measure.  Y’all, our readers that support us, make it all worthwhile and with my propensity for trouble, I am sure I will have another blooper reel to share next year.  

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