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Goodbye to a great sports editor

Monday was bittersweet here at Detroit Lakes Newspapers as we said goodbye to longtime sports editor Brian Wierima and welcomed his replacement, Detroit Lakes native Bob Williams, a veteran sports reporter from Perham.

Wierima and his family left for greener pastures in the Fort Myers, Fla., area, after he served 16 years as sports editor in Detroit Lakes.

Wierima had big cleats to fill when he first arrived to replace beloved sports editor Ralph Anderson, but he stepped up to the plate and handled every tough pitch that was thrown at him.

He started his career at Detroit Lakes Newspapers the same way he ended it — with the Pine to Palm golf tournament.

Then, as now, it meant a 90-hour week for the sports editor, covering the tournament during the day, then rushing back to write numerous stories and help lay out the nightly Spotlight, a special daily newspaper put out by our staff during the tournament.

It was trial by fire for a new sports reporter, but Wierima handled it with aplomb.

There’s been a lot of changes over those 16 years. Wierima went beyond covering the big four sports — football, basketball, hockey and baseball — and dedicated himself to covering all prep sports action.

He was ably seconded by staff photographer Brian Basham, who has captured some truly great sports photos over the years, but Wierima did all the sports reporting himself — and lots of it: Day in and day out.

It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to say he did the work of two people.

He started here in 1998, the same year Google was founded, Apple launched the iMac, and newspapers were starting to think maybe they needed a presence on the World Wide Web.

Back then, we were still laying out the newspaper by hand, printing out stories and headlines, running the sheets through the hot wax machine, and then cutting them and pasting them onto pages that were hand-delivered to the printing press.

By the time he left, Wierima was used to frequently updating our website and was keeping sports fans updated on Twitter with the best of them.

Like all good journalists, he was curious about everything, which led him to start a paranormal investigation group.

That in turn led to some interesting investigations, and some interesting feature stories — from the Vergas hairy man to a famous ax murder house in Iowa.

He won awards both for his sports writing and his non-sports stories, and was always willing to try new things — such as making himself the subject of a series on the process of getting a DWI.

In addition to a great work ethic, Wierima has a great sense of humor, and his stories brought bursts of laughter from the news room.

Although he’ll be missed, DL Newspapers is fortunate to have Bob Williams to replace him.

Williams is also a workhorse used to putting in the hours on nights and weekends, and he also has deeply embraced technology to keep sports fans informed.

Williams doesn’t lack for personality, and is a talented writer who had his own trial by fire when he started in Perham, replacing a popular sports editor there.

He handled the situation with grace and style, winning over a skeptical public, and we’re fortunate to have him as the new sports editor at Detroit Lakes Newspapers.