Andy Bockelman: A year in the life of a Moffat County sports reporter
The last nine months have been a whirlwind, and it looks like the cycle will start up once again before too long, but before we get back into the eye of the storm, I wanted to share my thoughts about what it’s been like covering a full school year of athletics at Moffat County High School.
I started the sports reporter position at Craig Daily Press last summer with a little bit of an advantage — not only had I been writing about local schools for the prior year as the education reporter, but I had also done the sports job here and there even before that.
The fact that I had also attended MCHS many moons ago certainly didn’t hurt, although if my superiors were hoping for a first-hand account from a former Bulldog quarterback, they would have had to look elsewhere.
Anyway, some features and faces of the 2014-15 year were familiar to me, some not so much, but little by little I hope I became a friendly fixture at Moffat County sporting events. It’s not always fun for coaches to discuss their latest game — even a sizable win isn’t always an indicator that a team is playing to their full potential, whereas a flawless effort might still not be someone’s night if the opposition is well-prepared.
I saw my share of both Bulldog blowouts and narrow losses this past year, and while I can’t say for sure if I’m the best sportswriter the Daily Press has ever had, one thing I think I do bring is that these moments mean more to me personally.
While some writers may have to stay objective when it comes to one team against another, I’m fortunate that no one will fault me for wearing only blue and white to a basketball game or my Bulldog baseball cap to the ball field.
If anything, most of our local sports fans want to see me go more extreme in my support, and as an MCHS alumnus, I’m certainly not against that.
The relationship you develop with coaches and athletes in this job can be a tricky one, especially at the start — they aren’t sure if you’ll only criticize their mistakes rather than focus on their strengths and therefore minimize accomplishments or make a defeat sound 10 times worse.
And, while I can’t say there weren’t moments like that in the past year, putting together an article about a Bulldog achievement or victory is something I’ve enjoyed so much.
In recent months, I’ve shared some remarkable moments good and bad with the kids at MCHS.
I was there when the varsity football players figured out — despite the parents on the sidelines trying to keep it hushed up — that Aspen had been upset by Basalt, meaning their earlier loss to the Skiers was no longer hanging over their heads and they would be headed to the playoffs.
The water bottles being thrown around in celebration nearly ruined my camera, but it was worth it to see that kind of excitement.
I was able to be at the state track meet to see one of the fastest Bulldogs in recent memory cross the finish line in front in three separate races within one day on top of the victory she had already contributed to the day before.
Kayla, it’s a toss-up as to which was better to watch — when you hugged your closest competitor in the 200-meter dash or the mile-wide smile on your face when you came from behind to win the 4×100 relay.
Of course, I was also there for some of the sad stuff.
Though my heart was broken when the boys basketball team lost the Sweet 16 round by just two points, I can’t even fathom how they felt. I first saw Tyler Davis play hoops when he was in middle school, and I still remember thinking, “This kid’s going to be a big deal in a few years.”
Though you had to leave the gym on crutches, I’m proud that you were able to walk tall.
I’m not quite at the age where I can acceptably complain about feeling old, but having seen some of the local athletes move on from Parks & Recreation sports all the way to the high school isn’t exactly making me feel like a spring chicken, either.
It still boggles my mind that two of my former teachers’ children, Mattie Jo Duzik and Chris Kling, were once no taller than my waist when I was a student and now when I talk to them, it’s either at eye-level or tilting back my head.
Regarding my own lack of sports prowess back in my salad days, Katelyn Peroulis, I don’t know if I would have had it in me to give the kind of physical effort you did to get back to doing what you loved. I still don’t know whether to be envious or just impressed that Matt Hamilton is heading on to college football after a senior year that probably would have killed someone with my physique before Christmas break.
And, yes, I’m talking about the kind of shape I was in at their age.
Seeing teenagers move on to bigger and better things is all part of the circle of life, I suppose, and to those who just completed their time up at 900 Finley Lane, it was great to see you give your all this season, great to get to know you and your families, and great to be part of the experience of high school sports.
For those returning for another year or coming up from Craig Middle School, let’s make it another year to remember.
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