Year in and year out, my job is listed as one of the worst in the nation.
While I definitely disagree, there is no debating the fact that the pay is extremely low and the stress is extremely high. Often I'm asked -- and I sometimes ask myself -- why do I do it? The answer is simple -- the memories.
Fresh out of high school, I initially went into environmental science. It wasn't the most exciting career choice, but I thought it could be something I would enjoy. Each day after class, my college roommates Jake Kurtz -- now the managing editor at the DeForest Times-Tribune in Windsor, Wisconsin -- and Jacob Hall -- sports editor for the Sioux Center News -- would come back to our dorm with story after story about their day working for the college newspaper. They had their own section titled Jake and Jake, which was basically a point/counterpoint where they would muse about the latest sports news on campus. It was hilarious.
Once, they interviewed a pair of former Iowa Hawkeye football transfers. When asked how it felt going from playing football for the University of Iowa to playing at the junior college level, one of the athletes responded, "Imagine this. You're used to riding to school every day in a limousine. Then one morning, all of a sudden, the driver pulls over to the curb and tells you to get out and walk to school ... 10 miles ... in the rain."
Right then and there, I knew journalism was for me.
I wanted to entertain. I wanted to talk to interesting people and help to tell their stories. I wanted to be the old, grumpy guy in the press lounge at Wells Fargo Arena during the state wrestling tournament with disheveled hair, coffee stains on his shirt, and a story to top your story.
So far, in my six-year career, I've had the privilege of witnessing and documenting some great sports moments.
I was there when the Armstrong-Ringsted Mustangs won back-to-back football titles under coach Robert Zotz in 2009 and 2010. I saw a group of sophomores take the Estherville Lincoln Central girls basketball team to a runner-up finish in the 2011 state tournament. I watched an under-staffed and undersized Lake Preston (South Dakota) football team beat its fiercest rival in double-overtime on their homecoming in 2012.
I was in the Bishop Heelan dugout when the Le Mars baseball team sent an ineligible pitcher to the mound in the 2013 substate final. I heard the conversation when a Bishop Heelan parent informed Crusaders coach Andy Osborne of the violation. I saw the Bulldogs triumph over their rivals 8-5 in 11 innings of the craziest baseball I have ever witnessed. I saw them receive their state tournament banner, before handing it over less than an hour later.
The very next summer, I watched the Spirit Lake softball team win three straight one-run playoff games to qualify for the state tournament. And this winter, I saw the Indian girls basketball team erase a four-point deficit in the final 13 seconds of a regional tournament victory over Sheldon, spurring them to their second state tournament appearance in three years.
These are memories I will carry with me forever. And they are the reason I do this job.
As we proceed through the spring sports season, I look forward to playing witness to history once more and I can't wait to tell the stories, both in victory and defeat.
After all, it's all about the memories.