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George Ferguson Column: Daniel did the job the way it should be done

From the Fringe...


Even in the best of times, they tell me all good things must come to an end. Well, I am here to tell all my readers that in no way shape or form, that this good thing we have going with the Havre Daily News sports section will come to an end anytime soon.

No, I as the sports editor at the HDN am fully dedicated to covering our great sports in Havre, at Montana State University-Northern and all over the Hi-Line to the best of my abilities, and I have made that a long-term commitment.

Having said all of that, one good thing about the HDN sports section has indeed come to an end. Daniel Horton, who spent the last five years covering just about everything I could throw at him, has now moved on. Horton has returned to his native Washington and he and his wife, Rylee, will start a new chapter of their life there.

Now, when they are young, sports writers come and go. It’s the nature of the business. They are always looking for the next step up the professional ladder, and as a sports editor who has been in this game for a while now, I fully understand that. And that’s why I feel so fortunate to have had Daniel here with me at the HDN for as long as I did.

When Daniel came to Havre, he was simply a photo journalist who wanted an opportunity to cover sports. And at that time, he had little or no experience writing, or covering sports. But Daniel is also a very intelligent, and hard-working person, and it didn’t take long for him to pick up the craft of writing sports, as well as the sometimes awkward job of covering them. No, believe it or not, when you’re the new kid in town, it’s not easy to approach or call coaches and athletes you aren’t familiar with and ask them about their games, their wins and losses and their lives. It takes time to develop that skill.

And time is exactly what Daniel gave to the Havre Daily News, to me, and to our great sports community. Daniel devoted the time, his nights, his weekends, his summers and winters to becoming an authority on all things sports in our neck of the woods, and as time went on, he got very good at it.

Daniel became an excellent beat writer for the Havre Daily News, and that, combined with his professional and superior ability to capture any sport he was assigned through his lens and turn those shots into magical works of art for our newspaper, well it changed the game for us as a sports section. With Daniel’s ability to cover, write, shoot and multi-media any sporting event, I feel like the sports section at the HDN was never better. With his commitment and work ethic, we as a sports section were able to cover more sports for you than we ever had before.

But it wasn’t just the skills that Daniel brought with him, and developed while he was here which made him such a valuable asset to the sports community. Daniel’s personality also made him easy to work with, and that in turn, made our coverage better. Daniel loves sports, but then again, so does any sports journalist, and that’s not unique. But what Daniel did that was different was learn to love our sports in our community. He learned to love the Blue Ponies, and as he put it, he should be an honorary Blue Pony for life. Daniel learned to love MSU-Northern athletics, and Chinook athletics and Box Elder and Rocky Boy and all schools and teams in between.

In my world, that is exactly what makes a good sports reporter an even better one, when they immerse themselves into the sports community. When they learn and understand just how important sports are to Havre and to the Hi-Line, and really, in Montana as a whole, they become better at their job. Daniel did that, and that’s why, in time, I allowed myself to even turn the coverage of one of Montana’s biggest sporting events, the All-Class State Wrestling Tournament, over to him. In time, Daniel grew to know just how important that event, and the sport of wrestling was to our community, and with that understanding, at a point in his career, I was no longer afraid to send him, instead of myself to Billings to cover an event that means so much to so many around these parts. Well, that and the fact that he is the type of photographer I’ll never be.

I’ll admit it, I’m pretty possessive when it comes to the biggest of the big sporting events that our newspaper has to cover. But I learned to let go as Daniel got better and better at his job. And because of the type of journalist he had become, I actually missed out on a lot. From state wrestling tournaments the last two years, to the MSU-Northern men’s basketball team’s trip to Kansas City a while back, from Chinook’s historic state championship in football in 2010 on that ungodly cold day in November, to Box Elder’s emotional and historic state boys basketball championship last March in Butte, it was Daniel who was there for those moments, and because of how possessive I am with those moments usually, that speaks to how well I think Daniel did his job.

So, there is no doubt the Havre Daily News will miss Daniel Horton. That pretty much goes without saying. He is an excellent journalist and he has helped capture so many wonderful sporting moments in Havre and all over the last five years. His devotion to the Havre Daily News and to our sports community will be sorely missed, though I will assure all of our readers and all of our community’s sports fans that we, as a sports section, will do everything in our power to continue the type of coverage that you have all grown accustomed to. My devotion to this paper and our sports community will not change.

But, at the same time change is inevitable, and change has come because Daniel has moved on. I’ve known he was moving on for quite some time, so from a professional standpoint, I’ve had plenty of time to make preparations and get used to the idea that Daniel will no longer be working here. And as much as I will miss Daniel’s skills, his work ethic and everything he brought to our sports section, what I will miss most is his friendship. When you do what we do for a living, it’s only natural that you have a lot in common, and Daniel and I do, and that’s why, naturally, through countless hours of working together, and more trips to Great Falls together to cover basketball tournaments than either of us care to count, my relationship with Daniel grew from a working relationship into a friendship, and at my age, making new friends, getting to know people you come to count on and trust, those relationships become fewer and fewer.

So that’s what I’m going to miss the most with Daniel. Yes, I will miss his work, too, because he did a great job and I’m proud of the journalist he’s become, but it’s the friendship and the fun times we had together doing this job that I’ll miss the most. I’m not sure he even knows that. But hopefully, when he finally gets Internet in Washington, he’ll get a chance to read this and then he’ll know.

As a sports section, the Havre Daily will march on, we will be ready when the 2015-16 school year comes, and it’s going to come very soon, and we will work our hardest to make this year’s coverage even better than the last. But for the first time in six years, Daniel won’t be a part of it. He won’t be roaming the sidelines at Blue Pony Stadium, or stalking with his camera underneath the basket at every gymnasium from Chester to Harlem. And for that I’m sad.

But as sad as I am that Daniel’s gone, I want to take this opportunity to wish him good luck, and to say thank you for all of his hard work and his dedication to his job and to thank him for everything he brought into our world of sports here. And I also want to tell him, yes, Daniel, you are an honorary Blue Pony. In fact, from now until the end of time, wherever you and Rylee go, you will always be a Havreite. And it’s Havre, and the Hi-Line, and not just me who will miss you.


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