By Lucas Punkari, Sports Reporter
I’m sure there’s been a few of you who have read the Fort Frances Times or the Daily Bulletin over the last 10 days and asked the same question:
“Who’s the new guy writing the sports articles with the funny-sounding last name?”
Well, that guy is me, so I figured I should introduce myself before we go any further.
My name is Lucas Punkari, and I’ve been in Fort Frances for just under two weeks as I begin working as the new sports reporter here at the Times.
Having been born and raised in Sault Ste. Marie, this marks my first real full-time position at a paper, so I’m a tad bit nervous to start off in a brand new location. But so far things have been going quite smoothly both at work and in my new residence, so I can’t really complain about anything.
While Fort Frances is much smaller than the Soo, the passion I’ve seen from those involved in sports here is massive, especially during the events I’ve had a chance to cover so far.
Both the Ice For Kids and ’52 Canadians Arenas present great settings and atmospheres for events, and the Muskie games I’ve had a chance to cover bring out a different intensity that makes high school sports a truly unique experience.
So what can I tell you about myself? Well, I’ve been writing sports articles for the last 11 years, which was way back when I was only 12 years old. Mind you, when looking back at some of those early articles recently, you could tell that they were written by a 12-year-old (but I digress).
After taking a journalism course for three years at Canadore College in North Bay, where I began to focus on the world of print journalism thanks, in large part, to the help of the most unique professor I’ve ever encountered in Mark Furlong, I was given an opportunity to work at SooNews.ca in my hometown on a part-time freelance basis.
While there, I was fortunate enough to cover the OHL’s Soo Greyhounds as a beat reporter as well as last year’s Scotties Tournament of Hearts, which ranks right up at the top of the list of stories I’ve had a chance to cover.
Being a sports reporter, you have people come up to you from time and to time telling you about how envious they are that you get to cover sports for a living, and how it’s the job they would love to have the most.
And I completely agree with them.
In all honesty, I feel both lucky and fortunate to be in a position such as this because I really don’t consider it work. Getting a chance to cover sports stories, and be able to go to sporting events, is basically a sports junkie’s dream—and it’s something I still can’t really believe I’m getting paid to do.
As I just mentioned, I’m basically a sports diehard as I’ve basically lived and breathed sports from an early age. In fact, according to my Dad, I learned to read off the back of 1990/91 Upper Deck NHL cards, which may explain a lot of why I’m such a massive sports fan.
That, and why I have way too much useless sports knowledge at my disposable.
My sports interests run all over the map, but I’ll basically stop anything I’m doing to watch a few different sports, including Formula One auto racing, curling, and NCAA football.
I fully expect to be the only person within a 300-mile radius who has those three sports as their favourites to watch, but if there is anyone else out there who follows these, I definitely would love to hear from you.
Being such a huge sports fan, my friends back home have learned to expect me to constantly bring up a number of athletes that I enjoy watching. As a result of this, I was told by a few friends of mine to not mention Welsh soccer starlet Gareth Bale, Formula One world champ Sebastian Vettel, future NHL draft pick Nail Yakupov, screaming sports announcer Gus Johnson, or Scottish curling sensation Eve Muirhead in my column, mainly so I could continue to make a living.
As well, my best friend told me to avoid writing any articles, or making any comments, about the Windsor Spitfires and Team Canada’s world junior captain Ryan Ellis so I wouldn’t be arrested on stalking charges (but that is another story entirely).
But in all seriousness, I’m really excited to be covering sports for the Times, especially with what’s coming up on the horizon. The Muskie teams are preparing for the NorWOSSA playoffs, the Fort Frances Lakers are gearing up for what should be a tightly-contested SIJHL post-season run, and the Fort Frances Curling Club is getting set to host the men’s and women’s senior provincial playdowns at the end of the month.
In addition to the Fort Frances Thunderhawks taking part in the Allan Cup, another season of action at the Emo Speedway, and the annual Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship all on the horizon, it certainly is an exciting time for sports here in Rainy River District—and I can’t wait to go out and experience it.
By Lucas Punkari, Sports Reporter