I had people tell me two different things when it came time to write my first column as the new sports editor at the Havre Daily News.
One group of people told me to just write a column as if I had written a column every day for the past two years. Don't bother introducing yourself because people don't really care who you are.
However, another group of people told me that I had to introduce myself because it didn't matter that I lived the better part of my life here in Havre, there were still plenty of people who knew nothing about me.
I've decided to go with the latter, sort of. Besides introducing myself, I will try to outline what I believe makes a good sports section and what you can expect in the coming months.
As I said earlier, I have spent over 20 years in Havre long enough to see the town slogan change from "Havre has it!" to "Havre, It's the people!" I was born and raised here and attended St. Jude's/Havre Central and Havre High, where I was a model and well-behaved student, okay just a student.
Following high school, I embarked on a college journey that took me from the halls of then Northern Montana College, to the baseball fields at Dickinson State University and finally to the bastion of liberalism at University of Montana. Let's see that would be, seven and a half years of college, two college degrees and one very large loan payment. I don't know who celebrated graduation more, me or my parents.
Yet, I didn't exactly jump into "real world" following graduation. Robert Frost wrote about taking the road less traveled. Following college, I didn't even get on the road. Instead, I worked as a bartender at Red's Bar in Missoula and basked in the glory of Grizzly football.
As this year rolled around, I realized that I couldn't bartend for the rest of my life. Because my life would end up being pretty short. So I did what many people close to me thought I physically couldn't do, I looked for a job. I didn't say I looked very hard, but I looked. And to my surprise the Havre Daily News seemed like the best job at the moment. Heck, my best friend, George Ferguson, is the other sports reporter and being his boss was worth taking the job alone.
Believe me it wasn't for the pay. In fact, after work I usually sit outside the building with a sign that says, "Will write for food."
No, the reason I took this job is because I am comfortable here in Havre and it isn't a huge jump into the real world. My family is still here and so are some of my friends.
More importantly, it's a job that I think I can do well. Many of the coaches I had in high school sports are still here which besides making them feel old will be helpful. I think I have a good idea of what people expect from the sports section of the Daily News.
I remember when one of the several past sports editors wrote that he wanted to focus more on national sports rather than local sports. That assertion was ludicrous and I am surprised the paper didn't start drug testing employees after a statement like that.
This is a local newspaper and people buy it to read local news about local people. People can get national sports news anytime either from the Tribune, off the Internet or by watching one of the 29 Sportscenters ESPN shows each day. We are still going to try to get some national sports news in the paper, especially the big stories. In fact, many of my columns will be about national sports.
But, our main goal here is to get the most local coverage we can. We'll be doing a few things different. George will be doing most of the prep coverage while I will be covering mainly MSU-Northern. We will each have a weekly notebook about our areas of coverage, we will still be picking athletes of the week and we will also both be writing some opinion columns.
There is one bad part to all of this: we can't be everywhere. In fact, George can only work a set amount of hours a week. And no matter how much I try, I can't be everywhere at once.
That's where you, the reader, comes in. We are asking for your help as much as possible. Coaches please fax any and every result from games we may have the same printout sitting on the desk but it's better to have too much information than not enough.
Most of all, let us know about possible stories. Feel free to call us, e-mail us or approach us at games if you think there's a good story out there we're missing or you have a comment about our coverage. It's your feedback that will only make the sports section better.
I really wanted to end with a quote that could sum up my feelings about coming home and the great opportunity that lies ahead. Nothing really came to mind. But George and I are ready to make this year a good one so it leaves only one thing left to say...