Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thankful for writing, and for those that believe in me

It's Thanksgiving. So, insert the obligatory comments about how quickly this fall has come and gone, how it has already felt like winter outside for a month and my annoyance with Christmas-everything starting in mid-October.

I also know that when life (read: the freelance sports reporter life) gets busy, sometimes the result is neglecting this space. I always come back, even if the posts are more spaced out than I'd like. Anyway, since it's the holiday and all, I started reflecting on everything I've done the past year. The sports I've written about, the profile stories, the Tweets, the baseball games. All of it.

So, I decided to put together a bit of a list here, which is much more reader-friendly than the Xcel spreadsheet I use to keep track of my assignments.

Here are some of the notable items I've covered and where my work has appeared this year, in no particular order. Most of these items below were opportunities presented to me from others who are colleagues, friends or have read my work. It's humbling to put it all together like this, and I'm grateful.

As always, thanks for reading.

Minnesota Twins social media. I was back for a third season on Twitter, and the Twins went from 103 losses to a Wild Card spot. It was another great season. Plus, this time we started a trail-mix tradition in the press box. I also helped out again with Twins Fest over the winter and even got to help with Twins Caravan for a week. For the first time, I went on the road, covering the games in Milwaukee.

State tournaments. It's worked out that I've become a regular on some of the state tournament beats for the Star Tribune. I've covered tennis (boys and girls), swimming (boys and girls), volleyball, adapted soccer and hockey (girls).

Prep sports. I covered a variety of (mostly) hockey and basketball games for throughout the winter sports season last year. It was usually a couple games a week throughout the metro area focusing on lots of different teams. Live scoring, Tweeting, interviews and writing. Kudos to the local coffee shops and McDonald's where I could set up after games to write. I also write occasional feature stories on prep sports for the Star Tribune.

Gopher sports. This one was cool because I had the chance to cover a sport where I didn't have as much experience as some others. I wrote a couple columns a week about Gopher men's basketball for Just last week, I covered a regular season Gopher men's hockey game for the first time. I've covered the Big Ten Tournament before, but I think this was my first time covering just a regular old hockey game at Mariucci (excuse me, it's now 3M Arena at Mariucci).

Chicago Tribune-Pioneer Press features. I continued my work as a remote freelance reporter for the Chicago Tribune's Pioneer Press. It's a lot of phone interviews (and sometimes confused coaches, until I explain) and working in the downstairs office at home. As a result, I wrote a piece that will stay in my proudest-clips file for quite some time: A profile about a swimmer named Tural Erel and his road to recovery after a beach accident. This took some extra work with interviews and writing, but I'm really glad my editor pushed me on this to get it done. In January, I joined some friends and local sports colleagues at a relatively new venture,, a local sports website. I mostly write about the Minnesota Wild, providing columns and writing about whatever else I want regarding the team. I also covered the boys' state hockey tournament last spring. This season, I've started writing game previews and recaps as well. (via Red Line Editorial). Some more remote features for this national website. A lot of fun profile work here, and I enjoy telling some of these great stories from those in the hockey world. This fall, I touched base with some hockey programs in Houston, Texas after Hurricane Harvey. I also wrote some features about the USA Hockey Sled Classic.

National Institute for Social Media. I wrote a guest blog post this past summer about how Twitter has changed a sports reporter's job.

The Athletic. If you haven't heard of it, The Athletic is a new subscription-based sports website with plenty of local and national content. Michael Russo went from the Star Tribune to The Athletic as a Minnesota Wild beat writer. As the site has grown, he's brought on a bunch of local freelance writers to cover the Twins, college sports, Vikings, etc. He asked me to join the freelance ranks. I wrote a St. Cloud State hockey preview and a feature on Krissy Wendell. I already like the freedom of the word count, plus it's another great place to tell some great stories.

Minnesota Hockey Magazine. I've worked with this publication in the past, and I wrote a story about youth hockey for their magazine this fall about Warroad - Hockeytown USA.

Children's books (via Red Line Editorial). This was probably one of the most exciting and worthwhile experiences of the last year. I'm now a published author with two books out: Women in Sports Media and Women in the Olympics. I have two more that are in the publishing process. It was definitely a learning experience, especially with the sports-media book, which touched close to home for me. I was overwhelmed by the support of family and friends when I shared a photo of the sample books I received on social media.

Follow me on Twitter @hlrule to follow along with the sports I cover and my latest writing.