It’s always strange starting a new phase of your life somewhere new. That was certainly the case for me when I took over as the Roundup’s sports editor on Aug. 29. After six-and-a-half-years working at the White Mountain Independent in Show Low, I didn’t know my way around Payson.
More importantly, I didn’t know anyone.
I certainly wanted to do the best job I possibly could of covering the sports scene in this beautiful community. So I appreciated any help I could get as I tried to find my way.
Former sports editor Max Foster has been a big asset. Although I haven’t taken advantage of his help as much as I probably should have, just knowing I can pick up the phone and tap into his vast knowledge of sports in Payson is comforting.
Payson High athletic director Don Heizer has been invaluable, introducing me to coaches, informing me about stories that might be of interest to our readers and keeping me posted on schedule changes and all those important kinds of things.
Speaking of coaches, I’m not sure people realize just how important they are in a newspaper’s coverage of a team. Although I try to be at as many games as I can, I simply can’t be at all of them, especially the away games. So getting game reports from the coaches is crucial to our giving these young student-athletes the coverage they deserve.
I found all the Payson High varsity coaches for the fall season to be wonderful people who helped me bring attention to their teams. But I want to focus on one in particular who made it easy to cover his team.
I want people in this community to know how valuable Payson varsity volleyball head coach Arnold Stonebrink is to the program. In 28 years of covering high school sports for various newspapers across the country, I have never encountered a coach more dedicated to bringing attention to his kids than this man.
Although I’d met him while covering the Blue Ridge and Snowflake volleyball teams, among others, over the years, I didn’t realize how dedicated he was to his program until Don Heizer led me to the bus in the parking lot to speak with him before the team departed for their first game of the season. I re-introduced myself and explained that I was hoping to get a rundown of the game for the next paper as soon as he could either call or e-mail me with it, or let me know the best time to call him. He was very friendly and said he’d e-mail me something by the next morning.
Now, I’ve heard that before from coaches who simply don’t follow through. But when I arrived at the office the next morning, there was a full report of the game with all the information I could have hoped for. Actually, it was a full-blown story, with statistics and quotes.
And he continued sending me these informative e-mails after each game or tournament. He never missed a game.
Now, I don’t mean to embarrass him, but I do want our readers to know that Arnold Stonebrink is a real treasure. He realizes how important coaches are in helping newspapers cover their teams and does everything he can to make sure they get that coverage.
If I were picking an all-star team of coaches for the 2013-14 school year, he’d be the early leader for MVP.
Although cross country coach Jonathan Ball, football coach Jake Swartwood, boys soccer coach Chris Avakian and girls soccer coach Trae Dunman were also helpful in reporting their results.
I don’t mean to put pressure on you winter season coaches, but the bar has been set pretty high. However, I don’t need you to write a story about every game, unless you want to. Statistics are the key. If you get me those, I can write a story. Of course, a couple of quotes never hurt.
You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, (928) 474-5251 ext. 114 or (928) 243-4246.
Of course, I’ll be at as many games/matches as I can get to. But, again, I can’t be at all of them.