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Monthly McAlester News-Capital Roundup

December 2nd, 2014 by

And so ends high school football. I think just about everyone in and around McAlester was disappointed the Buffaloes couldn’t pull off the win in Friday’s Class 5A semifinal and return to State, myself included. So when I finished my sports content Saturday for the Sunday paper — the last Sunday paper that’d be devoted entirely to high school football until next year — I found myself surprisingly unmotivated to turn around and start working on my content for Tuesday’s paper.

A late Friday night played some part in that, as did the basketball scrimmage I’d planned to cover Saturday afternoon taking place ahead of schedule. By the time I arrived, it was nearly over.

I got some good photos, but without being there from the beginning I knew my story would be kinda lacking.

I ultimately typeset a couple of local basketball tournament schedules — useful information, sure, but not all that riveting — to go with my summary of the scrimmage. I’ll find out in a couple days if my page designer — who in the past has made magic out of a small amount of text and few photos — was able to make what I submitted work or if he needed to run wire to fill up the rest of Tuesday’s sports section.

I’m sure once I get into the swing of basketball season again my energy will pick back up. But for about 24 hours this weekend, I didn’t have much to write about and couldn’t make myself find any more.

Of course, that doesn’t mean a month’s worth of stories isn’t quite a long post. Enjoy!

Midweek Update: Buffs climb to second in polls

Senior Spotlight: Josh Dungan reads the angles

Wood’s Demons win in return to Pittsburg

Lady Panthers double up Demonettes

Buffs Replay: McAlester vs. Shawnee

Buffalo Run Pro Disc Golf Course grand opening this weekend

Senior Spotlight: Cody Cozad back at full strength

Know Your Foe: Buffs wrap regular season against Chargers

Buffs lead Chargers 55-7 at halftime

Buffs beat Chargers 62-7

Buffs ground Chargers in Tulsa

Box score: McAlester 62, Memorial 7

Region Roundup: Diggers end losing streak

House leads after Buffalo Run Day 1

Senior Spotlight: Tim Richards grows into his position

Senior Spotlight: For Richardson, Buffs a recipe for success

Midweek Update: Buffs back on top of polls

McClellan wins Buffalo Run Pro/Am

Buffs Replay: McAlester at Memorial

Savanna’s Haynie signs softball scholarship

Know Your Foe: Buffs host Eagles in playoff first roun

McAlester leads Edison 21-14 at halftime

Third quarter fuels Buffs blowout; three Eagles ejected

Box score: McAlester 70, Edison 14

Region Roundup: Miners move on

Buffs wrestling gunning for State

Senior Spotlight: Cody Petty keeps head on a swivel

Midweek Update: Hornets, Lady Eagles still unbeaten

Senior Spotlight: Williams and Wynn lead the trainers

Hornets top Longhorns, stay unbeaten

Lady Longhorns too much for Lady Hornets

Posted in Basketball, Football, McAlester News-Capital Articles, Ultimate/Disc Golf | No Comments »

Monthly McAlester News-Capital Roundup

November 3rd, 2014 by

I’m about a month away from wrapping up my third football season with the McAlester News-Capital. And while it’s not always easy to see my own improvement, there are a few things I’ve recently noticed that I think show progress:

1) I’m faster: During my first football season, I usually had to get in between 8-9 a.m. Saturday mornings to be able to write all my content and get it paginated on deadline. Now I’m able to do more Friday nights, then drift in around 10-10:30 and still get it all done. I can write a raw gamer (no quotes) for most sports in about 30-40 minutes, then need only about 10-15 minutes to insert the quotes (and that’s if I’m transcribing an interview, not copying and pasting quotes over the phone). It takes me slightly longer to do features, but I’m still faster at that than I used to be.

2) I’m more confident: Two years ago I let a coach dictate the angle of a feature I wanted to do on his team. I recently was at a game where one his players hit a major individual accomplishment, and even though he asked me to downplay that in favor of a story on the team overall, I point-blank and repeatedly told him “No” and that the accomplishment would be both the headline and the first part of the story. I maintained this response even when he grabbed my jacket in what felt like an equally jovial and hostile manner.

3) I manage my time better: I try to avoid requesting overtime when I can, and in the last few months I feel like I’ve needed it far less than I would’ve two years ago (the one exception being the week I had to focus on the football preview magazine, but that’s unavoidable). Despite more or less living at the Jr. Sunbelt Tournament in June, I still finished at most a couple hours over 40, and at least two-thirds of my weeks this fall have ended right at 40. I used to occasionally work off the clock just so I wouldn’t be slammed the next day — now I don’t have to.

Here’s everything I’ve written in the last month.

Pitt 8 announces fastpitch All-Conference team

Midweek Update: Red Oak returns to State

Buffs Replay: McAlester at Bishop Kelley

Lady Buffs swept at Regionals

Buffs host Bulldogs in top-10 showdown

Buffs miss chances against Bulldogs

Box score: Skiatook 27, McAlester 26

Region Roundup: Miners top No. 3 Vian

Pittsburg holds annual elementary hoops tourney

Tuesday Night Jackpot ends 2014 season

Senior Spotlight: Kyle Morley part of McAlester tradition

Senior Spotlight: Keaton Slater leads from the sideline

Midweek Update: Buffs drop in football polls

Senior Spotlight: Mills finally gets to shine

Buffs Replay: McAlester vs. Skiatook

Know Your Foe: Bears welcome Buffs to Noble

Wood’s 7 TDs fuel Buffs blowout

Box score: McAlester 63, Noble 20

Senior Spotlight: Riley Smith hits. Hard.

Region Roundup: Warriors win, end three-year drought

Buffs coach to leave next semester

Midweek Update: Red Oak fastpitch wins State

Senior Spotlight: Matt Ferrell holds the line

Senior Spotlight: Dalton Wood can’t be stopped

Buffs Replay: McAlester at Noble

Know Your Foe: Buffs face winless Rangers in Tulsa

Buffs shut out Rangers with ease

Box score: McAlester 63, Hale 0

Region Roundup: Miners win district

McAlester Pom holds Zombie Run 5K

Senior Spotlight: Football a family matter for Robby Stephens

Midweek Update: Buffs and Miners climb in rankings

Senior Spotlight: Michael Mines settles in McAlester

Buffs Replay: McAlester at Hale

Senior Spotlight: Jacob Patterson hits his spots

Senior Spotlight: Shelton Fry can’t stay away

Senior Spotlight: Tanner Talbot stays active

Know Your Foe: Buffs host Wolves in district showdown

Buffs lead Wolves 42-7 at halftime

Buffs crush Wolves on Senior Night

Box score: McAlester 56, Shawnee 30

Region Roundup: Savages win Homecoming game

Clift nets milestone in Cowgirls win

Veterans lead Cowboys to victory

Posted in Baseball/Softball, Basketball, Cross Country/Track and Field, Football, McAlester News-Capital Articles, Volleyball | No Comments »

Monthly McAlester News-Capital Roundup

October 6th, 2014 by

Even for a monthly roundup, this one seems especially long. September is arguably the most intense month in the high school sports calendar, so that’s probably the biggest reason why. There’s softball and baseball playoffs, volleyball and football and cross country.

Despite all the different teams to cover and all the seniors (and there were a lot of seniors playing fall sports at McAlester) to spotlight, this is still far and away my favorite time of the year. It’s hard to believe the softball season is already over and the football season is half over.

And to be honest, I’d much rather be busy and stressed about having to do many things to write about than be bored and scrambling for stories (which is the case in the summer).

Here’s everything I’ve written in the last month.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Baseball/Softball, Cross Country/Track and Field, Football, McAlester News-Capital Articles, Volleyball | No Comments »

Monthly McAlester News-Capital Roundup

September 3rd, 2014 by

So we’re in our weekly staff meeting Wednesday, talking about the ways in which we’re going to start prioritizing our digital product. At one point in our discussions, one newsroom person loses it and begins to rant about how we can’t neglect our older readers, many of who don’t use computers and are nowhere near digital-first news consumers.

Another person responded that print will always be our anchor, but there’s a larger point that should’ve been made: if we don’t start prioritizing digital now, the newspaper could close in the next decade.

Yes, we have a portion of our audience that only reads the print edition. But our newspaper has followed a print-first approach up until now, and in the last 10 years that’s resulted in a shrinkage in our overall circulation, not growth.

To make money, we need digital readers. No matter how great our print product is — and it is pretty great considering how few reporters we have — quality doesn’t seem to raise print subscriptions.

McAlester isn’t so different from the rest of the country. The largest demographic here is people my age (or even slightly younger), and it’s no secret that my generation just doesn’t buy newspapers.

Many of my generation also seem to think that because information should be free, the news should be as well. To survive in this world that grows more digitized with each passing day, newspapers have to convince younger readers to pay for the news. And the first way to do that is to present the news in their preferred format.

Maybe some old people will suffer slightly, though the majority of our content does print eventually, and that’s unlikely to change soon. But if our readers are that heavily skewed towards the elderly, then at some point soon we’re looking at a massive dropoff in subscribers.

The only way to replace that loss is to already have in place a strong base of paying digital readers.

I’ve been a full-time professional journalist for just over two years. I don’t think the News-Capital will be the only stop in my career, and I know whatever job I get next will either require me to have these digital-first skills or at least look more favorably upon me for having them.

I get that people who’ve been working here a lot longer are more deeply set in their ways. I’d hope a desire to best serve our readers would trump that inertia and inspire people to put in the extra work, but unfortunately I don’t think that happens in real life in any industry anywhere.

Like it or not, print is quickly becoming (or has already become) the least popular form of communication. If newspapers had been a little bit smarter 15 years ago, they might’ve realized that and jumped into the digital age before it crippled the industry.

Instead, both our industry and my paper is very close to a cliff. And if some of us have to learn a few new skills to keep our jobs, then frankly we ought to do it.

Here’s everything I wrote this past month.

Midweek Update: New school year kicks off Thursday

The Firm scoring relentless against Downtown Detail

Say I Won’t overcomes Late Comers

Local CrossFit trio returns from competition

Hartshorne wraps record travel baseball season

Lady Hornets edge Warriorettes

Tubbs repeats as Hartshorne 5K champ

Friday Night Lights 5K medalists

Lady Buffs softball starts today

Midweek Update: All schools start fall seasons

Lady Savages beat Lady Miners

Lady Buffs volleyball ready for new season

Savanna Alumni to host softball game Saturday

Lady Hornets sting Lady Cougars

McAlester alum named OKC Thunder Girl

Midweek Update: Latimer Co. teams off to hot start

Lady Buffs crush Lady Eagles for first win

Senior Spotlight: Vhitney Garner keeps eyes open

Senior Spotlight: Clarissa Salinas prowls the back row

Lady Panthers topple Cowgirls

Know Your Foe: Buffs head to Wagoner for scrimmage

Buffs fast and physical in Wagoner

Porum wins Robbers Cave Shootout

Coffeyville wins Eastern soccer debut

Midweek Update: Lady Hornets, Lady Bulldogs and Lady Eagles ranked

Demons come back, beat Hornets

Buffs cross country season starts Thursday

Senior Spotlight: Breeze McLaughlin feels right at home on court

Savanna wins Pitt 8 fastpitch tournament

Know Your Foe: Buffs hosting four-team Classic

Pitt 8 Tournament results

Buffs shut out Classic opponents

Lady Buffs sweep Lady Chargers

WSL “Choctaw Casino Classic” tournament results

Buffs eighth at Early Tiger race

 

Posted in Baseball/Softball, Cross Country/Track and Field, Football, McAlester News-Capital Articles, Soccer, Volleyball | 1 Comment »

Monthly McAlester News-Capital Roundup

August 4th, 2014 by

There are all kinds of sports groups in and around McAlester. There’s a Little League baseball league, plus teams representing several other youth baseball and softball leagues. There’s a softball complex that hosts leagues multiple nights a week and has been home to several larger tournaments.

There’s the Boys and Girls Club. There’s a bowling alley with its own dozen or so leagues. There’s a group of fishermen who compete in a weekly tournament series.

There’s at least one gym that sends people to mixed martial arts tournaments, and a tae kwon do studio that travels for competitions as well.

And on top of that, there are 12 high schools  and junior highs — 13 if you count Lakewood Christian’s small athletics program — all of who compete in anywhere from three to 12 different sports throughout the school year.

Every one of those groups wants as much sports coverage as they can. I get that — I don’t think less of any of those groups for that. And no matter which group it is, chances are at least a few of its members think it is the most important athletic activity in Pittsburg County and should therefore be covered more than all the others.

I learned pretty quickly that you can’t please everyone. Every time I choose to cover one thing, I do so knowing I’m sacrificing covering something else and risk angering that other thing’s fans.

So every day I make choices about what I want to cover. And one of the criteria I use to decide on my coverage is how much information the group I’m covering has provided.

If a group takes the time to send me information, that sends the message that they want coverage. If a group doesn’t, that sends the message they don’t want coverage.

I’m the sole member of our sports department. I don’t belong to a church or any social organizations in town, and I have a very, very small group of friends I see outside of work.

I try to know as much about what it’s going on around town, but there’s a limit. Contacting me is the only way to make sure I know about a particular event.

When I came into work Tuesday morning, I’d discovered that other members of my newsroom had been harassed over our lack of coverage of a certain team. Once I got to my office, I found a press release from another group, which was also mad about a lack of coverage.

The people harassing my boss and colleagues hadn’t tried to get in touch with me once in the last month. Now they were mad an event of theirs wasn’t covered despite alerting us to it just two hours before it happened.

There are people in the newsroom who have seniority over me, but no one knows or cares more about the local sports scene than I do. Trying to go over my head to get coverage is a bad strategy — the people you’ll wind up talking to a) are less likely to think your event matters; b) have had a lot longer to develop the journalistic backbone necessary to tell people to piss off.

If you want sports coverage and you don’t want to buy an ad in our paper, I should always be your first call. I can’t always say yes, but I promise I’m your best chance to get anything in the paper at all.

So when I got in Tuesday morning, I prioritized the group that had sent me a press release. Here’s my story on that, plus everything else I wrote last month.

The two fronts of the NCAA-players war

Softball Complex ready for WSL Qualifier

Firm beats Swag in extra innings

Rain cancels Downtown Detail blowout

Ultimate slowly growing in McAlester

The Firm splits first WSL games

Nothin’ Personal wins WSL tourney

WSL “Bash for Bats” tournament results

US finally catching on to soccer

School board certifies MHS adjunct coaches

The Firm wins men’s league tournament

Schedule released for Little League Regional

Volleyball camp wraps in McAlester

Photo gallery: McAlester volleyball practice

Kiowa’s Doyle signs with St. Gregory’s University

Williams looks back on Hartshorne coaching era

Ramsey wins Eagle Hill tourney

Thomas key to McAlester disc golf growth

Ex-Buff Fernandez reaches golf semifinal

WSL returning to McAlester

Softball Complex field crews hard at work

Disc golf takes local overseas

Lady Hornets edge Lady Buffs

Lady Miners come back against Cowgirls

Locals bowl for charity

Two McAlester Sluggers head to Florida

Local duo wins night-fishing tournament

The Firm wins softball season-opener

Big first inning propels Swag

Buffs’ Sistrunk sweeps All-State matches

Great Balls of Fire announces fall bowling leagues

Buffs, coach win at All-State

Texas-East beats Oklahoma in Little League Regional

Wednesday’s storm floods Softball Complex

Texas-West beats Oklahoma in Little League Regional

Louisiana beats Oklahoma in Little League Regional

Posted in Baseball/Softball, Football, Soccer, Tennis, Ultimate/Disc Golf, Volleyball | No Comments »

Book Review: “The Best American Sports Writing 2013″

July 16th, 2014 by and tagged ,

“The Best American Sports Writing 2013,” edited by J.R. Moehringer

“The Best American Sports Writing 2013,” edited by J.R. Moehringer

In the four months since I reviewed The Best American Sports Writing 2003, I spent most nights reading a collection of HP Lovecraft horror stories. And after slogging through some very, very slow-paced stories about monsters, I decided to return to non-fiction with The Best American Sports Writing 2013.

Finishing the volume in at most a month, BASW 2013 was a breath of fresh air to a mind altogether exhausted by stories of nameless horrors with names impossible to pronounce.

Here’s my review of BASW 2013, which had Pulitzer Prize winner J.R. Moehringer as its editor.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Sports Writing | No Comments »

Monthly McAlester News-Capital Roundup

July 10th, 2014 by

Sorry this is a few days late — I joined a Monday-night Ultimate league in Tulsa this summer, and when you’ve played four hours of Ultimate and then driven 1.5 hours to get home, the last thing you want to do is blog.

Looking back on June, I’m kinda surprised at how many stories I actually wrote. June and July are kinda dead months in this area (with the exception of the week-long Jr. Sunbelt Classic baseball tournament), so to produce this much local content is quite satisfying.

As for this roundup’s late publication, I’ll make it up to you all with a new Best American Sports Writing volume review sometime in the next week. And it’ll be about the latest BASW volume, no less!

Meanwhile, here’s everything I wrote in June.

Five locals make Sophomore Sunbelt

Buffs star at TU Football camp

Kevin Durant’s grace period will end soon

Little League AA tourney begins

Oklahoma leads B.A.S.S. Nation tourney Day 1

Pittsburg County Little League update

Photo gallery: WE WILL Team Camp in McAlester

Arizona to defend Sunbelt title

Oklahoma still ahead after B.A.S.S. Nation tourney Day 2

Photo gallery: Jr. Sunbelt tournament banquet

Oklahoma wins B.A.S.S. Nation tournament

Jr. Sunbelt Classic, Day 1

Jr. Sunbelt Classic, Day 2

Jr. Sunbelt Classic, Day 3

Jr. Sunbelt Classic, Day 4

Jr. Sunbelt Classic, Day 5

Jr. Sunbelt Classic Day 6 schedule and scenarios

Big and bright: Texas wins 2014 Jr. Sunbelt

Sunbelt always brings the scouts

Canada’s Roy travels far

Wrapping up the 2014 Jr. Sunbelt

Thunder win AAA Little League championship

Legends win Little League Big 13

PCLL announces All Star rosters

Downtown Detail hands Swag first loss

Defense helps Firm edge Scared Hitless

Rundown wins coed opener

Buffs tame Wildcats in summer league game

Donald Sterling needs to go away

Kelleya Cox takes over Lady Buffs

Photo gallery: Eagle Hill Disc Golf mini-tournament

Blasengame uses disc golf for good

Buffs sweep in Stuart

Homers help Swag top Mayhem

Summer-league tournament results and schedule

Pittsburg County Little League preps for State

Smith, Buffs top Panthers

Miners pitchers tame Jr. Buffs

Summer-league tournament update

Miners win summer-league tournament

Little League wins four state titles

July 4 rodeo to feature female bullrider

Slime rains at awards ceremony

Photo gallery: Kiowa youth basketball camp

McAlester youth football league starting this month

Sugar Skulls hosting mashup tonight

Posted in Baseball/Softball, Basketball, Football, Ultimate/Disc Golf | No Comments »

Monthly McAlester News-Capital Roundup

June 5th, 2014 by

Another month comes and goes, and with it comes and goes another month’s worth of stories. I remember last summer as a constant scramble to come up with things to write about in the three months between the end of the spring and start of the fall high school seasons.

If anything, this year I’ve felt like I have too many things to try and cover, and I worry about (and have taken some crap for) missing a potentially big sports thing in the area.

Between those two states, I’ll always take the latter. Plus, to me that shows development as a journalist that I now see potential stories that I couldn’t a year ago.

Here’s everything I wrote in May.

Midweek Update: Four teams make State

Know Your Foe: Buffs host four-team baseball Regional

Buffs golf makes State

Buffs split Day 1 of Regionals

Chargers knock out Buffs at Regionals

Lady Buffs ready for tennis State

Bulldogs top Miners at Regionals

Lady Buffs golf team 11th at State

Lady Buffs duo sixth at State

Stuart wraps historic softball year

Buffs’ Woodmore signs with Tabor

McAlester track sends 10 to State

Buffs golf 12th at State

Lake Eufaula All-Star Classic set for Saturday

Buffs tennis third at Regionals, makes State

Buffs AD says goodbye

Buffs banquet honors golf teams

Sistrunk leads Buffs tennis at State

Robinson fifth in state hurdles

And so it ends

Tennis banquet honors seniors

Jr. Sunbelt Classic still seeking host families

Buffs all-stars big in extra innings

Local black belt tests new system

South sweeps Kiamichi Classic basketball

South completes Kiamichi sweep

All-State tennis and slowpitch teams announced

Seven Buffs named All-District

McAlester United to host Field Day

Local angler makes Oklahoma state fishing team

Oklahoma announces Jr. Sunbelt Rosters

Miners beat Cowboys in summer league

Buffs hold Black and Gold Scrimmage

Posted in Baseball/Softball, Basketball, Cross Country/Track and Field, Football, McAlester News-Capital Articles, Tennis | No Comments »

Monthly McAlester News-Capital Roundup

May 5th, 2014 by

I’ve got a complaint, and for once it has nothing to do with my newspaper. Instead, it concerns The Oklahoman, the Oklahoma City-based daily that has the largest circulation in the state.

For those not following the National Basketball Association, the first round of the playoffs just ended, and the Oklahoma City Thunder are still alive. But earlier in the series they were getting their asses handed to them by the Memphis Grizzlies.

Ever since Michael Jordan took over the league in the early 1990s, the NBA has morphed into an entity in which a team can win with basically one superstar and a bunch of B+ role-players. Having a second A-level athlete helps, but it’s not essential.

For the Thunder, that superstar is Kevin Durant. He’s probably going to win MVP later this week, but through the first five games of the Memphis series, he was inconsistent at best.

The Oklahoman recognized that, and after a Thunder loss published a headline calling Durant “Mr. Unreliable.”

A little unkind? Maybe. But justifiable based on his previous few games? Absolutely.

Problem is, Durant’s mom didn’t see it that way. After Mrs. Durant screamed at The Oklahoman via Twitter, sports editor Mike Sherman issued an apology.

Wow. Talk about cowardice.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Baseball/Softball, Basketball, Cross Country/Track and Field, Football, McAlester News-Capital Articles, Soccer, Tennis | No Comments »

Monthly McAlester News-Capital Roundup

April 7th, 2014 by

I know that as long as a reporter accurately reports a story, he isn’t supposed to care about the reaction from his readers. And I know that most people have responded very positively to my work since coming to the McAlester News-Capital — I’ve even won a couple awards for my sports coverage.

But for whatever reason, criticisms just eat at me. They bother me deeper and for a longer period of time than compliments do the opposite.

One of my stories below, “Cowboys fall at State,” elicited an extremely negative reaction from a portion of Kiowa’s fanbase. And a month later, it’s still bugging me.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Baseball/Softball, Basketball, Cross Country/Track and Field, Football, McAlester News-Capital Articles, Tennis | No Comments »

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