Twenty-twenty marked my 15thconsecutive year contributing sports articles to the Virden Empire-Advance.
It was definitely a challenging year. Due to COVID-19, seasons were halted prematurely, pushed back, or cancelled completely. Schedules were in a constant state of flux. Circumstances forced some student-athletes to make tough decisions about whether to return to school …
Through it all, I enjoyed continuing to bring readers the stories of local people. That has always been the best part for me. For example, it has been an absolute pleasure covering Miniota’s Brad Cole’s journey from a junior hockey player to the pro ranks to now a coach at Briercrest College. As well, it has been fun to check in with Elkhorn’s Travis Sanheim as he has carved out a role with the National Hockey League’s Philadelphia Flyers, but it also has been enjoyable to write about Virden’s Amy Lewis earning the opportunity to play volleyball at Dakota College at Bottineau, Manson’s Bray Rookes suiting up for the Virden Oil Capitals, or, going back, Oak Lake’s Kyle Smith rodeoing at Dickinson (N.D.) State University – to just name a few.
I greatly appreciate all of the athletes and coaches who have helped over the years. I could not do this without their time, effort and patience. A special thank you to Patty Hole, Garth Mitchell, Tyler Mitchell, Brett Braybrook, Troy Leslie, Dwight Pollock, and Jamie Hodson for going beyond the call of duty to help me over the years. It has been great to cover the Oil Capitals weekly for four seasons and the entire organization has been awesome.
Of course, this would not be possible without the Empire-Advance’s continued commitment to sharing young people’s stories. I appreciate the current staff’s support and am thankful for the incredible encouragement in the past of Marlain Shoemaker, Eva Waines, and Dianne Hanson. I appreciate having been mentored by Torben Laursen in my early days of writing in Virden.
Growing up in Virden, my parents, Rick and Barb, were always very encouraging of my writing. I appreciate them for that as well as them and coaches such as Dale Heaman, Garth Johnston, Brian Peel, Ray Cochrane, Steve Densmore, Martin Watts, and George Trowell for supporting my love of sports in spite of my lack of athletic ability.
I’ve been very lucky to have friends and their families support my writing and me as a person. I appreciate the Lesages, Hunters, Beans, Barrates, Colbecks, and Gardiners for that. I’m hoping for more years of chronicling the accomplishments of the area’s young people.