The high school sports season ended with a bang as the Thurston Colts baseball team grabbed the Class 5A State Championship. While the Colts’ win was the culmination of an incredible season, it also marked the end of our first year running the High School Sports Zone here at The Chronicle, and it marked the end of my first year as a professional journalist.
This time last year was the beginning of my journalism career after graduating from the University of Oregon. Due to the pandemic, I had much less experience than I would have liked, and thus struggled finding a job that fit my goals and my experience.
Then I found The Chronicle, or maybe The Chronicle found me. Either way, it was a nerve-racking beat to walk. The majority of UO students don’t generally venture out to Springfield, Creswell, Cottage Grove, or Pleasant Hill.
Once I started owning the beat, though, our communites started opening up and sharing their stories. The more I learned about these stories, the more clearly I began to fully embrace the hyper-local motto here at the paper.
As small, local newspapers continue to struggle and fold across the country, these types of stories aren’t being written anymore. I know from personal experience as a former high school athlete who never got any coverage.
It’s been by far the most rewarding part of this first year. Yes, I feel like I’m honing my craft and becoming a better journalist, but truthfully the best part is that I get to tell these stories of people who deserve to be covered — those who otherwise wouldn’t be.
As a former high school athlete, I often got nervous at major points in games while covering them, even though I was on the sideline. It’s one of the reasons I chose this profession, to stay close to the sports and stories that I hold dear.
There were some sports I knew I would love to cover, the ones I loved to play, like football and basketball. But I also found immense joy in covering sports like volleyball and wrestling.
“Give me one wrestling meet with a sports fan, and I’ll turn them into a wrestling fan,” Mike Simons, Thurston wrestling coach, remarked at one point in the winter.
That’s proven to be true. Just because I grew up and stopped playing organized sports as much, doesn’t mean my competitive fire went away. Watching other people compete and strive to be the best athlete and person they can be is one of the purest things for me, and it’s truly a privilege to be able to watch that for a living.
There’s so much more I want to accomplish next season once the high school sports beat starts back up.
Until then, enjoy the sun and the summer sports coverage, and we’ll see you back in the High School Sports Zone in late August.
Pierre Weil is the sports reporter for The Chronicle. Reach him at [email protected]