By Dan Falloon, Staff writer
Hi there, Fort Frances Times readers.
This is your new friendly, neighbourhood sports reporter, and I thought I should probably take the opportunity to introduce myself and what I’m all about since I expect we’ll be seeing a fair bit of each other.
This past spring, I graduated from Red River College in Winnipeg with a diploma in Creative Communications (journalism major), and was the sports department intern for the Winnipeg Free Press during the summer.
I’d lived in Winnipeg all my life until I packed everything into my Tercel and sped to get here in time to catch the Thunderhawks come back over the Thunder Bay Twins a couple of weeks ago.
I’ve never lived in a small-town setting before, and I’m sure I’ll make more than one faux pas as I settle in and get things sorted out. But I’m looking forward to a change of pace from the big city and I expect that’ll happen here.
I’m already starting to pick up some important notes about Fort Frances. First and foremost, I can tell this is a community that is bonkers for sports. I’d done a bit of research on the town before I came down, but the amount and range of athletics on display on any given night is far more than I was anticipating.
I’m going to be kept busy, I know. And I seem to have arrived at a time where hockey, bowling, basketball, and volleyball—among others—all are going to be running at a fever pitch, so I’ve accelerated from zero to 60.
At this point, all in all, I think it’s gone fairly smoothly. There have been a couple of bumps along the way as I’ve gotten adjusted, and while my goal is keeping those to an absolute minimum, they’re going to come along every once in a while.
I just ask for the understanding that mistakes are going to happen here and there, like they do to everyone.
Reading over some of the columns of my predecessor, Mitch Calvert, I’ve tried to identify some of the issues in the local recreation community, for one, and covering it, for another.
Mitch identified a couple of issues in his columns that I feel are worth touching on while I still have a relatively fresh relationship with everyone.
Actually, point number one is just that. At this point, I’ve only met people once, maybe twice, and the relationships have all gotten off to a positive start. I really don’t have a bone to pick with anyone, and even if I did, I strive to keep that out of my writing.
In school and with the Free Press, I’ve had to interview people I didn’t care for on a personal level. But on a professional level, their stories deserved to be told and I believe I was able to help tell it in the fairest and most balanced way possible.
I want to continue to do that.
The flip side of that, I guess, is that I hope I get to write about—or snap a photo of—everybody at some point, especially when it comes to minor sports. When I’m at games, I’m taking shots all game long, no matter who’s on the ice or the court.
I’ll submit the best photos and hopefully a player who might not be written about gets into one of those shots.
The plan is that those action photos are going to be more interesting than group shots, which generally don’t reproduce well anyway. I mean, if a collection of photos of people standing around was such a hit, wouldn’t “Municipal Workers from Around the World” have become a best-seller?
In all seriousness, I’m not too far removed from playing minor sports myself, and I can appreciate that being inclusive is important to kids. In a perfect world, I’d be able to get the name of every house league hockey player or amateur bowler into the paper in some way, shape, or form.
And even though painting a picture of amateur athletes needs to be done with a softer brush, every article I write still has to be newsworthy in some way. That said, I sincerely hope I can watch your child make news on the court or at the rink (for the right reasons, of course) and that I’m able to report it effectively.
And if I have to write a story on that news for a negative reason, please understand I’m just doing my job and it’s nothing personal.
The last thing I want to say is, again, something I saw Mitch bring up earlier. Please don’t hesitate to send me an e-mail when there’s something going on, and even firing off a reminder a day or so beforehand.
I can’t guarantee I’ll be able to attend, but I picture this sports section as a readable collection of stories about young and old, about soccer and hockey and about bowling and croquet. I want to include as much as I possibly can.
As well, I’m still getting a feel for the area’s athletic history. But if there’s a local athlete or fan favourite who seems to have dropped off the face of the planet, or an issue that needs some follow-up, let me know and I’ll try to look into it.
I think I got off to a good start with an update on former Jr. Sabre Brendan Baumgartner this week.
Now that those thoughts are out there, let’s have some fun! Thanks to everyone I’ve met so far for the warm welcome, and I hope I’m able to cover the sports you want to read about in a way that you want to read about it.
Please don’t hesitate to introduce yourself wherever we may cross paths. I’ll be the guy with the red beard, the thick-rimmed glasses, and the Times’ toque.
By Dan Falloon, Staff writer