Experiencing the moment

The life of a sportswriter at district tournament time is a mile a minute.

It’s 70 hour work weeks, typing up a mountain of stories without even really knowing what you’re writing sometimes, you just hope it sounds good. More importantly, you hope it reads well when you look at it the next day. There’s nothing worse than catching your own typos in this business.

At this time of year, you barely have time to catch your breath from one big story before the next comes along, and it’s not always easy to switch gears.

It’s like finishing a painting and then turning around and building a sculpture.

Our staff at the Daily Press put in a lot of time to produce the girls basketball district preview, and we’re doing the same this week with the boys preview. We split it up evenly between the three of us, myself, Jon Young and John Vrancic. I would estimate each preview has roughly 75-80 combined man hours gone into it. That includes interviewing coaches, compiling statistics and records, writing the stories and then the creative aspect of assembling the printed product.

While that’s going on, we had our usual slate of games last week. and there were some great ones.

Early in the week was a No. 1 versus No. 2 matchup as North Central hosted Munising in a boys basketball showdown. And what a game that was, right down to the wire, emotionaly charged, edge of your seat the whole way. It felt like a tournament game.

I came down from that game to turn around and cover Gladstone at Escanaba boys basketball Friday night, and in a lot of ways, that game was just as good. Sometimes in this job, you live for the rivalry games and Friday night lived up to the billing. Gladstone may have a losing record. Escanaba may have won big in the Braves gym earlier this season, but on Friday night, they were practically equals. That’s a rivalry game.

From there, we go to Monday of this week where I went out to Bark River-Harris for the start of the girls district tournament. The heavily favored Broncos were hosting Mid Peninsula in what, I’ll admit, I was thinking would be a textbook 20 point victory for BR-H.

Toward the end of the first quarter, it was apparent we had a game here. At halftime, I was certain we had a game here, and entering the fourth quarter with the score tied at 25, it became more than a possibility that Mid Peninsula was about to make history.

The two boys games last week were a distant memory after Cori Nummilien hit that game winning shot in the Broncos gym, providing the upset of the season.

This was the reason why we chose this line of work, to cover games and stories like this.

The 70 hour work weeks this time of year, the mountain of writing and work that keeps coming at you, the lack of sleep we all suffer from here during these tulmutious weeks – it’s all worth it when you get to write: Mid Peninsula shocks Bark River-Harris. No no, need sometihing better. Wolverines…Wolverines, no. WOWverines win first game against Bark River since 2002.

That’s history. We got to write about history Monday night. It will live forever. The girls in those orange jersey’s will remember it forever. You can’t put a value on that.

There was Kelsey Shope, a senior experiencing her first victory over Bark River-Harris. There was Sarah Hanson, a freshman who knows nothing but victory in the tournament, entering tonight’s game. There was Cori Nummilien, a sophomore making the shot of her life (and then quickly leaving the building before I could ask her what it felt like, haha).

And yet, it’s bittersweet because we cover both of those teams, and when you have such jubilation on one side, and such agony and heartbreak on the other, it’s hard to balance that out.

I’ve written about the Broncos impressive run to the state title game in 2011. It wasn’t so long ago that they experienced the height of basketball success, and the young girls on this current team may yet achieve similar success if they believe. But that’s another story, for another day.

It’s only Tuesday as I write this. What does the rest of this week have in store? And how can it possibly top what happened on Monday?

I’ll be following the Escanaba hockey team this week. I’ll possibly be covering the Gladstone girls Friday night, providing they beat Menominee tonight. Both teams have the opportunity to write their names in the history books with what they have the possibility to achieve this week.

Stay tuned.