A 2017 that was, and a 2018 that will be

A new year is upon us and it brings great excitement for many reasons.

First, it’s a chance to start anew in the coming year. A fresh start. An “I’ll stick with my resolutions this time,” feeling.

It also allows us to reflect on what’s happened in the previous 365 (or 366) days. We can reminisce fondly of the good times and learn from the bad.

The past year was — and we seem to throw this adjective around haphazardly — one of the best for me, both personally and professionally.

I made big life changes. I experienced new things. I photographed rare events, started hobbies and continued others.

And it’s the things I didn’t do that will help better me for 2018.

Here’s a look back at my favorite moments from 2017.

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Repeat finalist

Two days later and I’m still struggling to find the right words.

During the  2017 Hoosier State Press Newsroom Seminar & Better Newspaper Contest Awards Luncheon on Saturday in Indianapolis, I repeated as having the best sports action photo in Division 3 (dailies with circulation less than 6,000).

The photo, which is below, was selected as the photo of the year finalist for its division.

(I also won first place in sports commentary for my weekly column, “Line Drives.” It was my first HSPA award for column writing.)

In 2016, I was awarded first place by the Hoosier State Press Association for three photos. One of those — best feature photo — was selected as a photo of the year finalist.

I was also runner up for spot news photo.

Those honors came as a surprise to me considering I think of myself a writer first, a photographer second.

Not the other way around.

In 2011 I graduated from Central Michigan University with a bachelors degree in journalism with a concentration on news writing. I also minored in sports management, knowing very well I wanted to be a sports writer.

I was required to take a photography class as part of my major, and had dabbled in the hobby post graduation. It was never really a passion of mine, because I didn’t think I’d use the skill at a professional level. But when I began my career at The Commercial Review in July 2013, I was required to take pictures to accompany my stories.

And recent events have forced me to reconsider my evaluation of myself, and my feeling toward photography.

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Column: Line Drives — Record career almost didn’t happen

[This is my column in the Nov. 3 issue of The Commercial Review.]

He wasn’t going to play football as a freshman.

A three-sport athlete, he much prefers a baseball diamond to the gridiron.

More than four years later, Cole Stigleman is thankful he chose to play football.

“I’m so glad I didn’t (step away),” said Stigleman, a Jay County High School senior. “Football is an awesome sport.”

But after leaving West Jay Middle School after eighth grade, he thought about calling it quits.

“It is just crazy that I thought of even stopping playing,” he said.

This isn’t just about him making a life-changing decision to play. This is about how he became the most prolific runner in school history.

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Column: Line Drives — Heroes helped hurting half

[This is my column in the Sept. 28 issue of The Commercial Review.]

At some point in our lives, we’ve all come across a hero.

We may have seen them on TV, throwing a football, blasting a baseball or making a championship-clinching hoop.

Perhaps they were wearing a different type of uniform.

A firefighter rescuing us — or friends, or family — from a blaze. Maybe it’s a police officer or a paramedic pulling us or a loved one out of an automobile accident.

It could even be a medical professional who helped with rehabilitation, or a doctor who discovers an affliction before it worsens, or a surgeon who saves a life.

There are even fictional heroes. Batman. Superman. Wonder Woman.

But heroes don’t always wear masks or capes.

More often than not, they don’t even have a uniform. They’re just everyday citizens coming to aide someone in need.

I gained two heroes Saturday.

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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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Column: Line Drives — Question examines what to do next

[This is my column in the June 22 issue of The Commercial Review.]

Where do I go from here?

In August, I set a goal of running a half marathon.

I trained for nine months. Some days and weeks were better than others, but I did the best I could to prepare myself both mentally and physically for 13.1 miles.

I accomplished the feat May 6.

But what now?

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Indy 500 — My time with the Snakes

INDIANAPOLIS — Fifteen minutes is enough to last a lifetime.

For 15 minutes on Saturday, I found myself in the Snake Pit during the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

It was my first time in the Pit, and it will most certainly be my last.

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