Being a sportswriter is something that while I didn’t think I was destined to do, it somehow fit perfectly into what my professional life has been for three decades. But never have I ever struggled with it since the coronavirus made its way into the mainstream roughly a year ago.
It was never hard to fill up the Sun Prairie Star sports pages twice a week, nor was it difficult to lay out the other three Hometown News Group publications — the Waterloo-Marshall Courier, Lake Mills Leader or Cambridge News/Deerfield Independent — not until COVID-19 reared its ugly head.
Being a sportswriter during this unprecedented time has been not only a challenge but at times unfulfilling. I pride myself on giving the readers the best coverage of local news; for the quarter decade-plus that I worked for the Daily Jefferson County Union, to the last three years right here in Sun Prairie. I always have, I always have. But without high school and youth sports being played, mostly in Dane County, it’s been back-breaking to find stories that are relevant.
Fortunately, but also unfortunately, I have relied on using Associated Press stories on Milwaukee Brewers, Wisconsin Badgers, Green Bay Packers and Milwaukee Bucks to fill the twice-a-week pages of The Star. But as for the other HNG publications, the AP isn’t something that is used, therefore, I find it actually harder to find a story than writing one.
The last local event I covered involving Sun Prairie was the WIAA State Boys Swimming & Diving Championships: that was Feb. 22, 2020 … over 330 days ago.
This past fall I was elated to hear that some schools outside of Dane County were going to go forward and hold in-game competitions, all within the public health guidelines. Cambridge, Marshall, Lake Mills, Lakeside Lutheran and Waterloo all went forward with football and cross country, and the latter four also played volleyball with Waterloo finishing second in the state in Division 3. It was simply good to be back on the sidelines for what seemed to be a lifetime away.
Now I only hope, and it looks like it may happen soon in Sun Prairie. The Cardinals Athletic program was given the OK to begin in-game competitions — outside of Dane County — as early as this Saturday (See B1). And not too far down the road I’m hoping COVID-19 numbers begin decreasing, allowing for the fall-to-spring seasons to occur in Sun Prairie and the surrounding communities.
Until then, I will continue putting out the pages to the best of my ability, as a sportswriter’s work is never done.