Cooperation From Coaches Imperative In Sports Reporting

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Nary a month goes by that someone doesn’t ask me how a math teacher and football and baseball coach, such as myself, got involved in journalism.

For me, it all began in June of 1983 in Show Low while I was looking for summer employment, which in those days was a financial must for underpaid teachers and coaches.

While scouring the town for summer work, I decided — as SLHS’s football coach — to stop in the White Mountain Independent to complain about the coverage the Cougar football team was receiving. I felt Snowflake and Blue Ridge were getting most of the ink and SLHS was being slighted.

After explaining my position to the editor, he countered with, “Do you think you can do better?”

To which I replied, “Certainly.”

What I didn’t know at the time is the Independent’s sports reporter was leaving in a few days and the paper was in dire need of a replacement.

Although I had no newspaper experience or journalism training, I accepted the job only because I needed a summer paycheck to help support the family.

At the WMI, learned a bit of journalism flying by the seat of my pants and with a good amount of able assistance from then-Independent photographer David Widmaier, now the town magistrate for Pinetop and Lakeside.

If there was one lesson I took from my first job as the lone sports reporter in a small-town newspaper, it’s that cooperation from coaches is a must in covering athletics.

Simply put, if coaches don’t help supply much-needed information, coverage of their teams and sports can suffer.

Those lessons I learned at the Independent were validated this past week as I tried, sometimes vainly, to gather information on Payson’s six baseball and softball Little League teams playing in postseason tournaments in Show Low, Flagstaff, Payson and Winslow.

Some Payson all-star coaches were very cooperative in calling in results and statistics — win or lose.

Those, I thank and applaud for their dedication.

Others, however, were difficult to reach and some did not answer phone calls or e-mails.

That made gathering accurate information almost impossible.

On the high school level, I’ve asked every PHS athletic director to include “cooperation with the press” in coaching job descriptions.

On the youth sports scene, however, coaches are volunteers and cannot be mandated to provide game results and information.

When that occurs, sports coverage suffers which can only hurt the young athletes.

And that’s a shame.

Summer Recreation Camp

Summer Recreation Camp is in full swing. Get those kids off the couch and away from the TV and video games. Registration will be by the week and the cost is $30 per child and includes lunch. Hours are from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the camp takes place at Rim Country Middle School. Call Mary Wolf at (928) 474-5242, ext. 7 for details.

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