By Jason Shoot
When I was growing up if I can still use that term my mom and others used to tell me I have more excuses than Carter's got little liver pills.'
Well, I don't know who the heck this Carter guy is, but I know I have a lot of excuses so I can assume Carter has a lot of pills.
Anywho, I'm digressing from the point I am trying to get to. Today signals the beginning of a new era in the sports department at your Havre Daily News with the introduction of our new sports writer, Kim Staudinger.
Staudinger, a college junior, has returned to Havre to attend Montana State University-Northern after transferring from the University of Great Falls.
Staudinger is a graduate of Havre High School, where she was the manager for the basketball team for four years.
After graduating, she left to attend UGF to pursue her degree and a career in broadcast journalism. Personally, I don't trust those TV types, but I suppose I'll give her a chance, especially after the warm response I got after news of her hiring leaked out.
Besides, I'm sure she's a lot less likely to make a mistake like transposing the names Andrew McLain and Cody McLain and giving credit to one where it really belonged to the other.
I'm not sure who did that, but I imagine his name rhymes with Jason Shoot, and I'm sure he has dozens of capable excuses such as a lack of paying close attention to results submitted to him, the wind in the office blew the page over as I, oops, he typed the results, etc.
And here I am digressing once again, so let's get back to the task at hand introducing Miss Staudinger to our loyal readers.
For those of you who aren't aware of who she is from what I understand, that total hovers around seven or eight of you she is quick-witted, knows her sports and very personable.
Attempting to call her Monday to make sure she still wanted the job and hadn't fled the country, I discovered she had already disconnected her phone line and was well into the process of moving back to the Hi-Line.
Considering it typically takes me a month before I remember I should have shut off my phone line following a move, I was impressed indeed.
I have been craving a part-timer since November to assist me in covering schools across our readership area from Chester to Chinook and Turner to Big Sandy.
Covering an area as large as that by myself has been a task that has been far more difficult than I imagined it could have been. My coverage of the 'Beeters has been atrocious, as well as the coverage of the other schools in our readership area.
The addition of a quality journalist to this staff will go a long way toward repairing the damage that has been done.
This summer will serve as a warm-up for Kim, but she should be completely in the swing of things when fall sports roll around in late-August. That is refreshing news to all of us, I'm sure.
When I arrived here at the end of last year, I was pleasantly surprised by the number of people who went out of their way to introduce themselves to me and welcome me to Havre. I expect you to do the same with Kim her mugshot is included with this story. Memorize it. Burn it into your mind.
And for the readers locally who haven't understood why our coverage of area sports has diminished recently, I will bring a couple things to light.
I have worked for several newspapers in the past, and not one of them expects their sports reporters to call every coach from every school in the readership area to track down results.
For instance, the Daily News has 11 high schools and MSU-Northern in its circulation area, but for the sake of argument let's remove Northern from the equation.
During a particular season these high schools may be funding three or four sports. The system that has evidently been in place has had the sports editor make calls to every coach in the Hi-Line on Sunday to catch all the news from events that took place Friday and Saturday. It seems much easier for 30 to 40 people to call one person than one person to get in touch with 30 to 40 people.
This is where Kim's role is so crucial to the news we put on the sports page. With an additional reporter, we can now be certain we can get every result in the paper.
Will I ask Kim to make those 33 to 44 phone calls? Absolutely not. I'm asking the coaches and athletic directors of all our local schools to make sure those results get to us, and between the two of us we should have little difficulty getting every results from around the Hi-Line in the newspaper.
At the paper I worked for before the Daily News, on a typical Friday night in the fall we would get no fewer than 25 football games called in to us by local coaches or statisticians. We had a staff of five reporters and still had difficulty handling that many phone calls. Now imagine the difficulty of one person having to make all of those calls.
We have phones here, and when we aren't here to answer the phone calls, we still have voice mail. We also have a fax machine. In fact, we even have email. All these tools are available to you to get us results. And if you aren't sure what our email address or phone numbers are, check out the classy black bar across the bottom of the page.
The very first column I wrote, I said placing national stories on my pages was the last thing I wanted to do. Don't get me wrong I love professional sports, and I love reading about them.
But my foremost priority is reporting on local sports. Period.
I do not have a preference on reporting on one local high school more than another with the exception of Havre, which is the largest school in our area, and more of our readers are concerned with that school than any other local school.
You may believe some schools received more coverage than others throughout this past school year, and in many instances you are likely correct.
But let me say this, if I come into work and see faxes from certain high schools and none from others, I am going to do what I can to report on the schools that are interested in helping me perform my duties as the Daily News sports editor.
Fair? I believe so, and you'd be hard-pressed to convince me otherwise.
This is my own opinion, and I may very well be wrong, but I believe certain area coaches have been upset with the coverage in recent months and gone out of their way to make sure the coverage does not improve.
Like I said, I may be wrong. While that has irked me pretty bad the past six months, imagine how miffed the the parents of athletes are when they don't see little Timmy's name in the paper after scoring the most points he's ever scored before in a basketball game.
Or the game-winning touchdown he had to send his team into the playoffs.
Or the kill down the line little Jenny had at divisionals to secure her volleyball team's berth in the state tournament.
It's stories like these that deserve to be in the paper not the insignificant 38th game of a 162-game Major League Baseball season.
It's not me who gets hurt by all this. It's the readers, it's the parents of the athletes, and it's the athletes themselves.
So, once again, I want to strongly encourage coaches or athletic directors to take the extra time to make a copy of the stats I know you're keeping and take a couple minutes out of your day to fax them or phone them to us.
With our talented new reporter, Kim, on our staff, I have no doubts this upcoming scholastic year will feature the best sports coverage you have seen in decades from the Daily News.
That is extremely important to this newspaper. The only question is, coaches, is it important to you?