The best thing I saw last year: The privilege of being here
The following is an opinion column written by a Forum New Service editorial staff member. It does not necessarily reflect the views of this publication.
I've been writing columns for over three years now, and I've never found a consistent way to start an intro.
I like to think I'm good at many things, but finding the right way to kick off a column is not one of them. The purpose of this one, however, is to introduce myself.
When I was home for Christmas, I spent time with both sides of my family. I was bombarded with questions about my newish job in a new town. The sips of alcoholic beverages became more frequent, all while hoping to survive the hailstorm of questions that forced me to talk about myself. I loved getting to see many extended members of my family, and I'm glad I had so many great things to share with them.
These conversations led me to think about where I started in sports writing and where I am now. I remember one of the first things I wrote back in Alexandria was an introductory column, and I thought about how I didn't do that here. So that's what this is.
I grew up in Brainerd, wanting to be a sports writer. I'm the kind of person that makes plans for things, and they usually don't change, so I became a sports writer. I went to Augustana University and graduated with degrees in journalism and sports management.
I applied for one job in Alexandria at the Echo Press, and I got it. I worked under the best sports writer in the Forum Communications Company in Eric Morken, had the chance to get to know so many great people and really found a passion for covering high school sports. When I left in August, I was probably the happiest I had been in my position, and I was very comfortable.
For those of you who don't know, Alexandria hosts an annual golf tournament called The Resorters. It's a week-long event, and it's a blast. The Echo Press does a special publication for Resorters where we put out five daily papers. Those weeks were beasts, but a fun time nonetheless.
The week after Resorters, we had an editorial staff meeting the following Thursday. It was pretty standard. We go through what we're working on and what we have coming up. Eric and I were gearing up for season preview stories for the fall teams. After the meeting, my boss at the time asked if I could hang around for a bit.
I was kind of due for a raise, and I got it. It was so weird because I could almost feel like I knew I was getting it before I even went into the office that day. We chatted about a big project I wanted to pursue for the football season and some other minuscule stuff I was working on before he said, "Why didn't you apply for the Detroit Lakes job?"
The position opened when I was working the Resorters tournament, and I missed the email about the vacancy. So when he asked, I was a little surprised that the Tribune had an opening. We talked about how I would be a good fit because of my feature writing, and it would be a good opportunity for me at 25-years-old.
One of the first things I did was call Mike Bialka, the former sports editor in Brainerd. We've been family friends with the Bialkas for a long time, and I interned under him for a few summers while in college. To summarize, he basically said I'd be crazy not to take it. I called my boss back that day and told him I'd apply.
It was bizarre to me how nervous I felt about not getting the job I was basically offered. But on a Monday morning, while I was interviewing the coach of the Brandon-Evansville football team, Melissa Swenson gave me a call. Two weeks later, I was in Fergus Falls covering the Detroit Lakes football team.
I commuted to Detroit Lakes and Perham two or three times a week for a month and a half while living out of my apartment in Alexandria and for two weeks back in my childhood bedroom in Brainerd. It's safe to say that got really old really quick.
The best thing I saw this year was every single person that made this possible for me, which includes anybody reading this. This is a privilege. I know how fortunate I am to have this opportunity to be a sports editor at this age. I am so focused on being the best that I will do everything I possibly can to make the most of this gift I've been given. I believe that every kid deserves coverage, and I will do my best to make that happen. And if there's anything you want me to do better, never hesitate to reach out. I work for you.
Something I've learned since I graduated college is that people love to ask the question, "How long do you think you're going to be there?" in regards to whenever you're currently working. It's a dumb question because you never really know. But I do know that I'm exactly where I want to be right now. I'm so glad I've met so many great people already, and I can't wait for what's in store.
I'm not great at the outro stuff either, by the way. I guess I just wanted to say thank you. Have a happy holiday season. Let's have a great 2022.