Reflecting on one year at "the Sun"
"A Good Sport"
Time flies when you’re having fun in the Sierra Sun.
It was a year ago today that my first byline appeared in a newspaper other than Chico State’s student publication (Don’t knock it, The Orion is an award-winning college weekly). I’ve outlasted the previous two sports editors, who each had a run of about six months. So, either they saw something I didn’t, or I’d like to think I’ve found a niche here.
I’ve been through three mugshots ” none of which looked like me or got the approval of my relatives. But I’m sticking with the one I have now, so like it or leave it.
My tenure at the Sun has truly come full circle. I remember feeling slightly cheated that I started at the tail end of the 2003 high school football season and didn’t get to cover a single game. Well, I was paid back in full, having just returned from Las Vegas where I watched the Truckee Wolverines cap a remarkably dominating state championship season with a 28-0 victory over Moapa Valley.
The 2004 baseball team’s run at a state championship may have been even more lucky to witness, in the sense that they don’t have quite the historic success that the football program does. Not to mention the fact that they ended Bishop Manogue’s 91-game winning streak.
The baseball team also provided me with the reminder that accuracy is the most fundamental part of journalism (I incorrectly reported that it was Truckee baseball’s first-ever trip to the 3A state championship, but I also reminded the community to make me aware of such mistakes when they first appear in the paper. Even if it’s a simple spelling mistake.)
During the last year there have been other noteworthy achievements in high school sports, including tennis player Andrea Roegiers’ third-place finish in this years’ regional tournament. Or cross country runner Loren Myers’ ninth-place finish at the state meet.
Then there is the incredible legacy that Nordic head coach Nancy Gordon left at Truckee High. Or there are the incredible displays of courage like wrestler Shane Wright carrying on a season even though he passed out during matches because of a severe case of asthma.
As I pointed out in my first-ever column, there is an innocence to high school sports that will always put it in a more special class than collegiate or professional sports. That’s why coverage of high school sports is so important: These athletes are truly playing for the love of the game, and, like this year’s football team at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, so many of those seniors played in their final football game.
They might never get to read another article about how their touchdown made the difference in a crucial game. Trust me, I still have dreams about high school football.
That being said, the cooperation of high school coaches is of the utmost importance to a newspaper, and they should always value that. Faxing results from the games should not be perceived as a chore, but rather a chance for players to read their names in the newspaper. So many times I’ve asked coaches for stats or results, and so many times they haven’t responded. Of course there have been many helpful coaches, too. Just something to think about if you wonder why a certain sport isn’t covered with as much detail as another.
Remember, there are not enough pages in the Sierra Sun, let alone five or six sports pages a week, to document all the awesome athletic achievements in the area. Tahoe is an environment that breeds remarkable sports talent on a variety of fronts; like disabled athlete Mark Wellman, professional skier Daron Rahlves, Xterra triathlon racers Conrad Snover and Zack Beekler, NORBA mountain bike racer Paul Zarubin, and 82-year-old skier Naomi Wain, who doesn’t believe age is a barrier.
Then there are the many individuals, like me, who are trying to document it, like local filmmaker Tom Day and local photographer Sean Sullivan. There are the local businesses trying to promote activities, like Wilderness Adventures Dog Sled Tours, Automaton Snowboards and the Sports Exchange. These, of course, are all people I’ve interviewed, and I’m sure I will meet many more along the way. At least that’s been my experience as the Sierra Sun sports editor.
I never dreamed I’d meet a professional athlete working in Truckee, but in one year I’ve stared face-to-face with Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher, legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus and Olympic gold medalist alpine skier Finn Christian Jagge.
One thing I’ve learned working one year in Tahoe is that the area is not lacking in amazing stories, whether it be sports-related or not. I’ve always said you could probably knock on anyone’s door around the lake and they would have a story fit to tell. So it’s crucial to make us aware of a story idea you might have. Suggestions are always welcome, too.
Ironically, some of the most heated complaints I’ve received are from angry Philadelphia Eagles and New York Yankees fans. Oh, and a college professor who wanted to argue with my calling Carolina Panthers coach John Fox a boob for his ill-advised use of the two-point conversion in last year’s Super Bowl.
I told you that the Patriots would win the Super Bowl; I told you that the Pistons had a good chance of knocking off the Lakers in the NBA Finals, and I accurately projected that money would not buy the Yankees a ring.
All in all, it’s been a great year. I am thankful for the people I’ve met and the places I’ve been ” obvious perks of the profession. In fact, writing this column comes with a bit of a melancholy; because I remember the days when I had extra time to write columns.
Speaking of which, I never did get much feedback, so I’ll ask for it now: Do the columns add to the sports page, or would you rather see a story about a local instead? What do you think is the appropriate balance in the sports page? Would you rather see an artsy design or an in-depth story? Because, frankly, it is rare to have enough time to do both.
These are all questions I ponder as I look down the road at perhaps another spectacular year at the Sun. Any suggestions, you know where to find me, or write me.
[Matt Brown is sports editor for the Sierra Sun. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.]
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