Column: Line Drives — Four years hold special memories

[This is my column in the June 30 issue of The Commercial Review.]

Four years.

Saturday marks four years as sports editor of The Commercial Review.

I didn’t expect to be here this long.

No, that’s not to say I don’t want to still be here — I do — nor am I on my way out the door.

If you don’t mind, I think I’m going to stay for a while longer.

I just never thought I’d hit four years.

I thought I’d put in a year or two and move on. It’s the epitome of small-town, community journalism — get a foot in the door, gain experience, go elsewhere.

But I don’t want to.

And I’m glad I haven’t.

It’d be hard for me to imagine not being around to see the culmination of the high school athletic careers of four local athletes.

Four years ago I came to Portland not knowing what I was getting myself into.

Four years later, the class of 2017 is the first group of student-athletes I’ve gotten to cover all the way through high school.

There are four in particular whose careers have stuck out the most.

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My first-place photos

It’s quite the challenge coming up with the right words.

Honored. Excited. Relieved.

Those are just a few.

But the most important feeling — humbled.

At the Hoosier State Press Association Newsroom Seminar and Better Newspaper Contest awards luncheon today in Indianapolis, I had four photographs receive awards; three earned first place and one was second place. One of my first-place photos was selected as the Division 3 (Dailies with circulation less than 6,000) representative for photo of the year. While I did not receive that honor, it is still pretty darn cool to come away with three first-place awards and even be considered a finalist.

After winning best feature story last year, I was shut out this year as a writer. Honestly, though, that doesn’t matter.

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Column: Line Drives — Megatron is likely done

[This is my column in the Jan. 7 issue of The Commercial Review.]

Thanks for everything, Calvin Johnson.

During Sunday’s victory against the Chicago Bears, there was rhetoric going around that it was the last game “Megatron” played in a Detroit Lions uniform.

For most of the season, there was talk that Detroit should trade him to get rid of some cap space — he’s due slightly more than $24 million in 2016.

Wednesday, the thought of Johnson no longer playing in Detroit became clearer.

The star wide receiver issued a statement that he is considering retiring from the National Football League.

“Like many players at this stage of their career, I am currently evaluating my options for my future,” Johnson, 30, said in the statement. “I would expect to have a decision regarding this matter in the not-too-distant future.”
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Column: Line Drives — Question from a fan was a surprise

[This is my column in the Nov. 19 issue of The Commercial Review.]

It was a question that caught me off guard.

Saturday in Monroeville, the Jay County High School girls basketball team had just finished beating the host Heritage Patriots.

It was the second win in as many games — also the second game I covered this winter sports season — and the eighth consecutive regular season Allen County Athletic Conference victory for Jay County.

Usually I’m the one asking the questions following a game. Sometimes, I even catch the athletes off guard with one of my inquiries.

The table was turned Saturday.

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Column: Line Drives — Indians deserved playoff game

[This is my column in the Nov. 12 issue of The Commercial Review.]

It was more than two decades in the making.

The Fort Recovery High School football team hosted its first playoff game in program history on Friday.

There is a certain buzz that surrounds football games on Friday nights, and what happened in Fort Recovery last week was special.

Even before arriving at Barrenbrugge Athletic Park, the pomp and circumstance was in full force.

Pop-up canopies were peppered throughout town, grills fired up and the smell of tailgate food permeated the air.

It was hard not to get caught up in the moment.

Nearly an hour before the game started, the home side of the stands was just about half full.

It was easy to see the implications of the game.

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Column: Line Drives — Lapse in security needs answers

[This is my column in the Nov. 5 issue of The Commercial Review.]

How does it happen?

Given the surge in security measures taken at sporting events since Sept. 11, 2001, how is it that fans are able to smuggle things into professional sports stadiums?

Take Monday night’s football game between the Indianapolis Colts and Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Those of us who watched the game on TV were treated to footage of two people who rappelled and displayed a sign from the upper deck of the stadium protesting Bank of America’s involvement in a liquefied natural gas plant.

Initially it was unclear what they were doing. Gregg Doyel, a columnist for the Indianapolis Star, tweeted a photo claiming that they were technicians fixing a TV camera.

Makes sense.

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Column: Line Drives — Playoff outcome hard to predict

[This is my column in the Sept. 10 issue of The Commercial Review.]

I hate making predictions.

Especially when it comes to trying to predict the outcomes of games.

Trying to foresee the future of the entire NFL season is, well, nearly impossible.
There are so many variables that can happen.

Players get hurt. These days, they get suspended too.

But it’s always fun to see how these NFL preview columns turn out. More than likely I’m always wrong. But sometimes I’m right.

In the past two years, I’ve made some bold predictions. Without hesitating I’ve picked the Detroit Lions to win the NFC North. Detroit hasn’t won its division since 1993. Last season I had the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl. The 49ers did not make the playoffs for the first time in four years.

Alas, it’s time to predict the next six months of professional football.
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