Column: Reviewing the Sheridan Press 2013 sports year in review
Date posted: December 26, 2013
Sports media outlets all over the country will put out their year in reviews in different forms over the next few weeks. Depending on how early they wanted to go on vacation, you might have seen it already. Ours will run in Monday’s Press.
In the process of compiling our 2013 edition, I had a few thoughts on the year in Sheridan County sports from the Sheridan Press sports department.
YEAR OF THE FEMALE ATHLETE
Beginning in January, the female basketball player dominated news headlines as far as Sheridan County teams were concerned.
Of the high schools covered by this newspaper — Arvada-Clearmont, Big Horn, Tongue River and Sheridan — just one boys basketball team qualified for the state tournament in 2013, with all four sending girls squads to the culminating event. The Tongue River girls won it all, rolling 28-0 behind a dynamic offensive attack. Beyond Sheridan, the duo of Fallon Lewis (from Tongue River) and Kayla Woodward (Sheridan) have become the literal face of the Wyoming Cowgirls basketball team. Then there’s Julia Fenn. As a sophomore she’s won two No. 1 singles titles for SHS tennis and has folks across the state trying to figure out if anyone has ever won all four years.
BRIGHT FUTURE FOR BASEBALL
It was a tough, rebuilding year for the Sheridan Troopers, but the Jets State B Championship in late July tells value in youth baseball programs and what they may bring to the sport in the area. Full traveling leagues run by dedicated parents seem to be preparing kids for higher levels of competition once they get to high school. Once they get there, having a Troopers coach with the baseball knowledge of someone like Ben Phillips should help, too.
RODEO IS COOL
While I’ve played just about every sport — and done so on a consistently mediocre plane — since I was a kid, rodeo was not one I ever participated in. That said, it has risen to one of my favorite sports to write about and photograph. I was particularly proud of our Sheridan-Wyo-Rodeo coverage this year, and that’s not really something I do. Work is work, we write about things and I hope you read it. But Sheridan’s premier sporting event draws not only the world’s top athletes but with it a large reader base in July, and our photo/story combinations were some of the best things we put out all year. A good show makes good content easy I guess.
In journalism, I worry, that you’re remembered for the dumb things you say as much as the smart ones. Sometimes in print I think you’re just remembered as a relic who still believes dinosaurs exist and that hiding under your desk saves you from nuclear holocaust.
In this case, when you incite an angry internet mob while being clever, people want to talk to you about it. Sadly, the story I was asked about most all year came as a result of my comments in a column in June about the CrossFit movement. Their new joint is located across the narrow parking lot from our office, and me going all shock-jock for page views at the expense of this muscle-bound group was not my intention. Sorry guys. Merry Christmas.
My favorite stories to write all year are football stories. The 20-, 60- and 90-year reunion weekend for Bronc football state champions was a fun one to research; poems written about the 1953 Broncs, grainy black and white photos of the 93 squad.
It’s nice to have good programs to cover in Big Horn, Tongue River and Sheridan. While it’s never possible to give everyone what they deserve and even less feasible to keep parents pleased, the late August-November content is a joy to produce because I like to pretend I’m in Texas and Boobie Miles is gunning for that big D1 scholarship, and someday an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary will show a millisecond clip where you can see one of my articles during a montage. This fall I had someone come up and ask me “Do you just love high school football?” I laughed. I need a hobby.
I always expected complaints this year, something along the lines of “you guys have too much soccer coverage! This is America!”
But it’s never the complaints you expect at this job, it’s things like “So, how come you guys didn’t cover the Kentucky Derby?” Yes, that gripe happened. Next year, I’ll sit down in front of the television with my willing, limited knowledge of big time horse racing and a supply of Mint Juleps to live blog the Kentucky Derby on our website.
It was a little strange that two of my little brothers ran across our coverage on high school and college soccer teams, but I guess that happens when you move back to your hometown and work at the newspaper.
LIKE BALANCING A COUCH ON YOUR HEAD
It’s one of the strange journalistic tasks, blending national sports news and local sports coverage. In page design, it feels strange to stack a “Manning throws 51 TDs” story with a high school sports story, but it’s how this paper has operated for years. Even more, making sure everyone gets their due isn’t something that will ever result in me getting enough sleep at night.
A few things I want for Christmas
A spell-checker tool that grants us two more hours under each deadline and one living, breathing real human copy editor. Or a robot. I’d take a robot copy editor, but it has to share my inherent dislike of overpaid athletes and sarcastic treatment of arrogant, equally-overpaid sports pundits…A caged, excitable grizzly bear trained to field all phone calls and emails featuring nonsensical reader complaints…A Green Bay Packers playoff berth…Griswold-quality/quantity Christmas spirit…Mountain-climbing workout plan from Rocky IV…Broncos loss to the Ravens in the AFC title game by way of a Hail Mary pass sailing over a stumbling Rahim Moore….Merry Christmas.
1st photo: Sheridan College rodeo team members sit during practice this fall at the college arena. 2nd: Sheridan Jets players celebrate after winning the State B Championship this summer. 3rd: Bob Simpson and Bruce Keith from the 1993 special section celebrating the Sheridan Broncs 4A state championship.