As I have mentioned here a few times, I have been lucky enough to write for quite a few years.
During the past few days, I have knocked off a pair of accomplishments, that to me, are noteworthy.
On Friday, we were a bit short handed when it came to covering football games so I started my night in Gower taking photos of North Platte. Made a jaunt down Interstate 29 to Faucett and got a few photos of West Platte, before making the drive to Park Hill High School where I saw the second half of the Staley vs. Park Hill contest.
I had never been to more than two football games in one night before and it was a tough task to pull off, but you will see in this week’s sports coverage a photo with all five of our football teams — a first this season.
I have been lucky when it came to football coverage this year, getting Ross Martin and Jason Lawrence, two former writers at The Citizen, helping out a lot. With them, we have covered four football games out of the five schools we cover on a weekly basis. That is hard to do and something you won’t see at most weekly papers. But, we believe in covering the schools and the athletes and if you look around, there isn’t a lot of papers that cover sports like we do. Down the road a bit, the Liberty Courier-Tribune covers both Liberty schools, Kearney and Smithville, but are typically is limited to only four pages per week, half of what we had last week. We are lucky to have owners that will allow us to cover games and make sports a big deal, because to me, they are a big deal in small communities like Dearborn and Weston and sports are big deals to fans in Platte City and the ones in Kansas City, like Park Hill and Park Hill South. If you have followed newspapers trends lately, some of the bigger schools don’t get coverage in the big papers like they once did. The Kansas City Star staff has been gutted and the decision made this year to only cover games with help of stringers has limited the coverage and if your name isn’t Rockhurst or Bishop Miege, good luck getting recaps on your favorite schools. That, though, is how journalism in most places is.
Enough about that, though.
The second thing I wanted to note was covering the state golf championships on Monday and Tuesday at Swope Memorial Golf Course. This marked the first time in my career that I have covered the state event in this sport and it got me wondering how many of the MSHSAA state finals I have covered.
After a little research I concluded I have covered 10 of the 15 state recognized sports now and only two of the remaining ones I have a realistic shot at covering some day — volleyball and tennis. I had an opportunity to cover Bishop LeBlond at volleyball finals for the St. Joseph News-Press, but I couldn’t get my bosses to give the go-ahead to drive to Cape Girardeau, which isn’t exactly centrally-located like many of the other state finals.
The three I think I have little to no chance to cover for those that wonder: lacrosse, field hockey, and water polo — which aren’t exactly staples for teams in the Suburban Conference or the KCI Conference.
It will be only a matter of weeks before all of the fall sports will wrap up — we are officially done with high school golf and softball — and winter practices will begin.
If the shifting of the weather wasn’t the first indicator that winter sports are here — Tuesday’s 28 degrees set the record at KCI Airport for the lowest temperature on this date — look no further than the start of the NHL, NBA and college basketball practices.
This is probably one of my most favorite times of the year as a sports junkie. You still have baseball going on with the NLCS and the ALCS — I’m rooting for a Brewers vs. Red Sox showdown in the World Series — and the NFL and college football dominates the television on the weekend. It should be fun seeing the Chiefs and Pat Mahomes on Sunday Night Football again this week and hopefully the home crowd will take the Bengals out of the game early.
I’m looking forward to catching a few more Chiefs games this year, as well as treks to Independence to watch the Kansas City Mavericks and to St. Louis to watch the Blues. Hockey is a sport I wasn’t really aware of very much in Joplin growing up. It was only on TV a few times a year it seemed and for some reason it never got my attention like MLB, the NBA and NFL did as a kid.
As I got older and moved up this way, I finally attended a game in person and I was hooked. I went to the Blues vs. Ducks on Sunday and got to watch a pretty good game between annual playoff contenders and it was tied until Anaheim scored with five minutes to play to sneak out with a 3-2 victory. Personally, I wish there was an NHL team closer than St. Louis or an NBA team closer than Oklahoma City or Minnesota, but sometimes a road trip is good for the soul, or at least that is what I tell myself.
I guess at the same point, you realize you love what you do when you spend your time off work going to sporting events.