I came here 10 years ago, rescued from oblivion by a former journalism-school classmate of mine, Jim Lewers. I can never thank him enough for the opportunity.
I am retiring from the Press-Citizen, and I will miss the many people I’ve had the pleasure of working with in covering high school (and some college) athletics. It would take me through A-Rod’s suspension to properly thank each one individually so I hope you will forgive me for this group sendoff.
My previous job was as sports editor in Ames. Ames has one public high school and we covered a number of small schools in the area, similar to what the P-C does. In my approximately six years there, our schools won one state championship. One. Nevada boys soccer.
Iowa City has a bigger population base, has two public high schools and a parochial high school. But the disparity in the success of teams from Mid-Iowa (that’s what we called our circulation area) and the ones here is startling. I can’t even begin to count the state titles won by schools in our area. West won six in one school year. Solon darn near did the same.
I bring that up to point out how fortunate the student-athletes, coaches, parents and community supporters in this area are. Whether they know it or not or appreciate it or not, this area’s success is extraordinary.
That makes for a lot of copy for reporters and photographers. I don’t mean to say that less-than-successful teams do not provide good stories. They do, sometimes better than those from successful teams. But every season in this area extends through the state championships. Those kinds of championship runs are fraught with drama and make life a lot more interesting for those of us lucky enough to follow it and catalog the results.
You have every right to be proud of your kids, coaches and administrators who have fostered this kind of success. Take a minute every now and then to thank them. I know I owe a lot to them.
Coaches in this area universally welcomed me. They’ve educated me. They’ve had great patience with less-than-expert questions. They’ve been accessible almost without exception in providing information about your sons and daughters so we could show what they’ve accomplished and peer into their personalities.
Athletic directors have thankless jobs that eat up their days and nights and yet those people always found time to help us get schedules squared away, track down coaches or kids and make room for us in their gyms to cover big games. Thank you.
Most parents have been understanding of the job we do here. Some have provided great insight into their children, the kind that changes a routine story into something memorable. I never took for granted the trust that is evident with allowing a stranger to delve into your teenager’s personality. Thank you.
Several community members from both sides of town have been really supportive of my efforts. Thank you for extending your good will, for giving me story ideas, and for critiquing stories and columns when they needed it.
The students I’ve dealt with have been great. They are alternatively funny, shy, multi-talented, curious, intelligent, ambitious, goofy. (You know who you are!) They were willing to trust me when I stuck a tape recorder or (more recently) a video camera in their faces and said I was doing a story about them. I’m not sure what I would have done as a 17-year-old in the same situation, but they showed uncommon poise and convinced me that this generation is a whole lot more grown up than was mine at that age.
I will miss the five football coaches who graciously made way for me to infiltrate their KXIC-sponsored Coaches Corner breakfast on Saturday mornings at Midtown Family Restaurant. I won’t, however, miss the 8 a.m. start after a drive home from a game in Dubuque the previous night.
It’s been really fun and I will miss it. But there’s lots to do and see in life and it’s time to explore. One final thing: to those fans who fervently believe we favor West over City or City over West? You’re right.