Sunday, December 31, 2017

Taking inventory of my work in 2017

I'm trying to reflect on the year 2017 in terms of the sports world. I think I already hit my personal highlights in my last blog post, so maybe that's why I'm a bit stuck. Nothing immediately jumps out as a topic to write about as we all ring in 2018.

It's a natural time to take a step back and look at what's happened over the past year. On the other hand, it can also be seen as just another day on the calendar. Kind of like when even-number milestones are celebrated in sports (Is 100 RBI in a season really that much better than 99 or 98?).

With time, my writing biz has grown. So, I decided to look over my color-coded spreadsheet and count up my stories and blogs for the calendar year. Here's what I came up with, keeping in mind a slight margin of error for miscounting (numbers, eek!):

220 stories, gamers, features
31 blog posts
2 books
Thousands of Tweets

I had some new bylines for new outlets, covered new sports and new teams. As always, the preps beat always provides something new and different. Whether it's a school or arena I hadn't been to before, or a team in the state tournament for the first time. The usual state tournaments were covered: Swimming, tennis, volleyball, hockey, plus section football and baseball.

There were Gopher sports with the University of Minnesota. From columns about men's basketball to men's hockey and even a couple stories about women's basketball here recently.

Hockey is still a prominent sport to write about, from preps to the Minnesota Wild. I really enjoyed writing about hockey for The Athletic - about St. Cloud State previewing their season, Olympian and former Gopher standout Krissy Wendell joining FSN hockey broadcasts and sitting down for a great conversation with Mounds View's own from the 1980 men's hockey team, Rob McClanahan and his hockey-standout daughter, Sara.

I wrote some features for USA Hockey as well, talking with prominent coaches, Olympians, writing about hockey's involvement with the Hurricane Harvey aftermath in Houston and the sled hockey tournament.

Then there was the Warroad youth hockey feature story, talking to coaches and experts about cuts in youth sports and whether flag football is a safer option for kids than tackle football.

Auto racing is still a passion, even if I don't have much of an outlet to write about it. I did write about the Indianapolis 500 for, however, which was nice.

I helped out with a leg of the Minnesota Twins Caravan in the northern part of the state. Thank goodness the weather cooperated that week. That was followed by Twins Fest, of course, a vacation to spring training in Fort Myers and a much-improved 2017 baseball season for the Twins. They followed up their worst season in team history by reaching the AL Wild Card game. No need to relive that result. Along the way, my friends in the press box and I started a 7th-inning-trail-mix tradition.

With so much, I do have a few things that stand out as some of my proudest pieces of work. Topping the list would be my children's books that were published: Women in Sports Media and Women in the Olympics. It was pretty cool to see my name on the cover of a book. I learned a lot writing these and am grateful for those who supported me and purchased them as well.

Writing the stories for The Athletic website was also a nice surprise, and it was great really digging in without the stress of hard deadlines and word count limits. I talked with the McClanahans for nearly an hour about hockey, etc., so that story, plus the one about Wendell were a lot of fun to put together.

I also had the chance to write a bit of an enterprise piece that started last January and published in April in the Chicago Tribune. It started out as a story about a high school boys' swimming and diving team. Just do some phone interviews and find an angle, like usual. But once I talked with the coach of Glenbrook North High School's boys' swimming and diving team, he mentioned Tural Erel, a senior who wasn't able to swim with the team last season because of a neck injury over the summer at the beach.

With some work with my editor, I went back to do more interviews, asked more questions, found out more details about Tural and his recovery as he worked his way back from not being able to move to swimming an adapted race on senior night.

It was nice to have a busy 2017 that brought new opportunities. I hope for more excitement and good things in 2018. Thanks for reading!