I have three things at my desk that have become permanent fixtures of my work life.
My computer background has something related to Chicago to remind me that home is truly where the heart is. Although my heart is inching further away — I’ve taken a job as a sports reporter at The Forum in Fargo, N.D. — I know Chicago will always be waiting for me.
I also have an e-mail from a person (let’s call her Kris), thanking me for the work I do and for “putting smiles on people’s faces.”
Finally, I have a renewal form for a Daily Globe subscription in which the person who renewed their subscription wrote, “Your Sports Section (Sucks).” Although — according to grammar rules — I technically don’t have to read what was in parentheses, I did and always will.
I used to think for every thank-you there were 10 complaints. The idiots always seem to win because they are louder, and there are more of them. But through my time in Worthington, I’ve learned it’s the quiet ones that will always keep me coming back.
For every parent that has no understanding that we use human beings and cars to cover things, not 24-hour working robots and hovercrafts, there’s WHS’s Angela Robinson or K.C. Riley asking with pure excitement, “Did you get that?” about a play, as I stand with a camera at their softball game.
For every parent who calls in to ask if I have a vendetta against their child, there’s E/E’s Devin Hulstein or SWC’s Zach Huisken, who have a good enough sense of humor to discuss their playoff facial hair to some creep with a recorder.
Parents, if I had a vendetta against your child, I’d publish what they put on Twitter or Facebook. I don’t because your annoyance isn’t worth me ruining their future. Plus, what they write is often times hilarious.
For every parent that calls in to say, for example, the gymnastics article wasn’t big enough, and then calls back to say there weren’t enough gymnastics pictures, and then calls back to say who we should and shouldn’t take pictures of, there’s the family of Ellsworth’s Casey Schilling, who, for some reason, felt the need to thank me for doing my job and coming to his signing.
As another side note, parents, do not attempt to campaign for a newspaper to not interview or take pictures of an athlete based on some kind of trouble they got into. I know your child is a perfect angel, but that doesn’t mean he/she is going to get enough playing time for us to get a picture of him/her or validate interviewing him/her after a game. Let the game decide who gets interviewed and who gets pictures in the paper.
For anyone who might e-mail me to remark on the three typos in a 1,500-word story, there’s WHS’s Mitch Weg, who might be the funniest athlete I’ve covered, WHS’s Jonah Oberloh, who might be the nicest athlete I’ve covered, and WHS’s Mubarik Musa, who … well, let’s face it, Mubarik is just awesome.
For anyone who might forget all sense of common decency and feel the need to come up to me to tell me how to do my job when I’m walking into a gym nine hours after finishing the previous night’s work on my 42nd straight day at the office, there’s WHS’s Mackenzie Gerber, who always smiles and asks how I’m doing when I’m at Hy-Vee getting caffeined up to stay awake for another day of work.
For a person who might call disguising demands as requests for things like baseball standings a day after there was an all-local sports section, there’s WHS’s Dan Wetering — unable to stand, barely able to talk, after a tennis match that lasted over two hours — thanking me for staying for his whole match in Redwood Falls, WHS’s Kate Lesnar, who does more charity in one day than most do in a lifetime, or WHS’s Alex Purdy, who is the greatest bench commentator in all of prep sports.
From here on out, the notes from my Worthington desk will be taped up at whatever desk this career hands me. They remind me why prep sports will always be dear to my heart. The athletes, coaches, athletic directors and secretaries don’t want or need any recognition, but they deserve it. There are no scholarships or contracts, but, instead, an unmatched obsession and love for sports. It’s not for the raving idiots in the stands, who apparently know how to ref, coach and even, on occasion, put together a sports section, yet never touch a whistle, clipboard or pen.
They are the loud ones. They only win because they’re too busy yelling to pay attention to the scoreboard.
Thank you for putting up with me, southwest Minnesota. Thanks for giving me stories and a platform from which to write them. You gave me a team when I couldn’t get a tryout, and I’ll never be able to repay you for it. My heart may be moving on, but part of it will take you along.
Don’t ever thank me for doing my job. I thank you for giving me stories to justify having this job. I do what I love because you allow me to.
Finally, thanks to the subscriber I mentioned earlier who made the wise choice to renew. It’s safe to read the sports section now.