So, the last couple of Views from the Nose Bleeds have been more reflective than they usually are. There is a reason for it. This coming Wednesday will be my final day with the Storm Lake Pilot Tribune, as I have accepted another job in Boone County. The near past four and a half years have been a blast to live in Storm Lake, covering these six high schools and Buena Vista University.
I still remember my first few days at the Pilot Tribune. I came in at the start of baseball/softball season in 2016 and learned how to take good photographs pretty quickly, along with getting in touch with coaches the night of, if it was deadline. It’s funny what a person can remember. The first night I covered Storm Lake baseball and softball, I ate at the old Fast & Lite Subs and it was a really good sub sandwich.
As time progressed that first summer, I fell into a groove and became more and more comfortable with doing what needed to be done. I kept learning what made a good picture and how to lay out a page. Jury is still out if I’ve done the latter well enough.
The first state event I went to with the Pilot Tribune was softball in 2016, as Newell-Fonda made it to Rogers Park in Fort Dodge. I remember a few things about that week. It was hot and some of the TV guys liked to push newspaper guys around a little bit. Regardless, it was a fun experience baking in the late July sun.
However, my car’s transmission went out a couple of weeks later, which was a recurring theme with myself and transportation for a bit. Then came the most ideal football season with Storm Lake’s perfect regular season. The first basketball season saw some controversy with how the Newell-Fonda girls lost in a regional final, making it two big controversies within the first eight months of my start, the other being the Alta-Aurelia softball team losing to a bad weather rule.
As the time marched on during my time at the Pilot Tribune, everything became easier. Talking to coaches and players didn’t feel as daunting after a year as it did when I started. I went to state in different sports: softball, baseball, soccer and basketball. Never getting to go to the UNI-Dome for football was a bummer, but that never diminished some of the great football games I saw in the fall.
One of the biggest memories I’ll have is state soccer in 2018 when Storm Lake was the best team in 2A and didn’t win the title because of two lucky bounces. They were better than Pella, and the last 10 minutes of that match were pure luck. I’ll forever stand by that statement.
Some of my biggest interviews came with the Pilot Tribune. I was lucky enough to interview a Harlem Globetrotter in college, which will always remain a cool highlight.
However, getting to talk to Nate Bjorkgren for the first time was awesome, when he was still with the Phoenix Suns. Then I interviewed him three more times while he was in Toronto.
It was just as great. Sadly, with his new head coaching job, it was hard to get a hold of him for one more story about his career.
My first time talking to him, he said he wanted to be an NBA head coach in the future, and to see it happen with the Indiana Pacers was wonderful. I think everyone in Storm Lake will be jumping on the Pacers’ bandwagon, as long as coach Bjorkgren is there.
The decision to accept another job and leave this wonderful area was a difficult one, but a great opportunity presented itself, and it was hard to turn it down. I had a couple of sleepless nights pondering this decision, because I love this community so much.
The state of Iowa generally sleeps on the athletics here in northwest Iowa. I had never heard of any of these schools when I was growing up in central Iowa and while going to college in Fort Dodge. The only ones I knew were the ones my high school (Southeast Webster, now known as Southeast Valley) played: Newell-Fonda and West Bend-Mallard. There was Galva-Holstein, as well, but that was due to them destroying the Eagles in the 2004 playoffs.
It’s been fun getting to see these schools and take part in some history for them. I saw the Panther Pit ditch the old wooden seats for the new bleachers they have now. The same goes for Storm Lake. I’ve seen coaches come and go, along with so many great athletes.
To the coaches, thank you for putting up with me for the last four plus years. I’m sure at some points, you were hoping I’d stop bothering you. Thank you for being so responsive and answering questions in a good manner. Thank you for sending emails after games with stats and a few comments, if I wasn’t able to get a hold of you otherwise. It was a pleasure working with all of you.
To the athletes, sometimes I’d be having a terrible day, but going to cover a game was able to turn it around most of the time. It’s been fun watching so many great kids work their butts off for their school. I always hope the best for these kids and will continue to do so.
Someone has to hold Macy Sievers accountable for wanting to win state basketball all four years she’s in high school, right?
2020 has been a difficult year for all of us with this pandemic. Regardless of your feelings about it, it has changed lives and continues to do so. We lost out on spring sports, and I’m certain Storm Lake soccer would have won the championship this year. As weird as this year has been, it’s also been one of the most fun years I’ve had at the Pilot Tribune. From the Mustangs winning state, to trying to scramble to find stories in the spring, a pretty fun baseball/softball season and a cool football season, it was great.
Thank you, Storm Lake, St. Mary’s, Alta-Aurelia, Newell-Fonda, Sioux Central and Ridge View. It’s been a fun ride and I’ll be sure to keep up on how everyone is doing, or what college they’re going to. Keep being awesome and flying under the radar to other parts of Iowa. I know, and you know, how great it really is here.