Monthly McAlester News-Capital Roundup

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

Monthly McAlester News-Capital Roundup

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

Monthly McAlester News-Capital Roundup

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

Weekly McAlester News-Capital Roundup

I got a nasty call from a reader a few days ago, demanding to know why I hadn’t covered a junior-high softball tournament in which one of her kids had played. These kind of questions always make me feel defensive, but I explained I’d been covering a McAlester High School football scrimmage, and as the only sports writer, I couldn’t be in two places at once.

Unappeased, the woman basically accused me of having a bias against her particular small school. After I politely told her the second sports story that would run that Sunday was a small-school softball story, she muttered something incoherent and hung up on me.

I can tolerate people questioning my coverage choices, though I’d prefer they tell me about an event beforehand instead of yelling at me after, because I don’t know everything. But I have a far harder time accepting the defensiveness and accusatory tone some people take when they call. Sorry, but yelling at me doesn’t help your cause.

If I can’t cover your team, it doesn’t mean I have anything against your sport or your school. But I have to fulfill two obligations each week: submit two articles of approximately 750 words (or one of 1500) for each edition of the paper, and do so without working more than 40 hours in a week.

When I choose which games I’ll cover, I base a lot of my choices on those two demands.

If a local team is playing at home, that helps. If the team is playing a double-header or a three-way, that helps even more, especially if at least one of the other teams is local as well.

I have to cover McAlester football on Friday nights, and when the Buffs are on the road, it usually means at least three hours of travel, plus three more for the game. So unless it’s the playoffs, there’s no way I can justify traveling for a small-school road game.

I don’t even travel with other McAlester teams except in the playoffs.

Because of travel concerns, I’ve pretty much abandoned live coverage of two high schools ostensibly in my coverage area, because even their home games are 40 minutes away. And in trying to stay on top of the other 10 high schools in my area, plus doing occasional community features, I just can’t cover junior-high sports in any real capacity.

In my entire first year of coverage, I think I did maybe seven stories exclusively on junior high athletics, and with the exception of a baseball doubleheader and a track meet, all of those stories were based on 15-minute interviews instead of live games, which can take upwards of two hours.

I just don’t see a way to fit comprehensive junior high coverage — and especially of non-McAlester teams — into my daily workload.

Sorry, but I just can’t fit it in. But that doesn’t mean I have anything against your school or your team.

When people call to discuss coverage with me, I just want them to approach the conversation with calm and politeness, not anger and accusations. Here’s everything I’ve written since Aug. 27.

Weekend Update: McAlester Volleyball gets first win

Hornets swept in home three-way series

Pitt 8 Softball Tournament on Thursday

Skyler LeFors sets for success

Savanna wins fourth straight Pitt 8 Tournament

Know Your Foe: Buffs head to Norman for final scrimmage

Buffs survive frustrating Norman scrimmage

Buff alum coaches best summer team in nation

Disc golf mini-tourney Saturday

Weekend update: Second-ranked Savanna wins Pitt 8

Mustache run and Wellness Center Health Fair on Sept. 21

Lady Buffs undefeated in district

Weekly McAlester News-Capital Roundup

The first time I wrote something that really pissed a coach off, I spent the next four months or so terrified of my next encounter with them. And when that encounter finally came, it did indeed begin with a dressing-down from the coach. Not the worst thing that could’ve happened — I was actually afraid the coach might punch me — but still one that left me feeling a bit sheepish.

A column I wrote in May led to another really negative encounter about a month ago — not with a coach, but with a coach’s loved one. While not as hostile a confrontation, parts of it found their way onto Facebook. And once again I was scared I’d burned a bridge I’d need to cross later.

I met up with the coach in question earlier this week. To my surprise and gratitude, the coach never mentioned any of the stuff that took place over the last month. The coach was cordial, professional and honest, and even hung around for a second interview for an unrelated story I’ll write sometime in the next three weeks.

It’s been my experience that most people only bother to comment if there’s a story they really don’t like. I haven’t heard anything from the coach since the story published, so I assume the coach either liked the story or at least didn’t dislike it.

I learned that not every person hangs onto a grudge as long as every other person. And while some might get annoyed with a story designed to “change the story” about a team — as this story in part tried to do — others will be completely open to the idea.

Either way, I’m very appreciative of the coach for taking the high road in this situation. Here’s everything I wrote this week.

Jerika Parent returns from Olympic soccer camp

Local shooter travels to DC

Miner Summer Pride at full strength

UCA Cheer Camp wraps in Hartshorne

Locals win blind doubles bowling night

Stuart steals way past Indianola

Tim Thomas joins Buffs coaching staff

New disc golf course planned for McAlester

Matt House rising up disc golf ranks

Weekly McAlester News-Capital Roundup

OK people, it’s 2013. Why haven’t we figured out how to control the weather yet? It’s hard enough trying to stay on top of 12 schools’ worth of teams. But figuring out what’s been rained out and what hasn’t, especially on the weekend? Now it’s just ridiculous.

With my mini-rant now finished, here’s what I wrote this week.

Skye Edwards “sets a precedent”

Victor Martin keeps tradition going

Messy brackets bad for tourney

Loretta Medina always on the move

Lady Buffs unveil 2013-14 pom squad

Buffs win home tennis tournament

Eagle Hill Disc Golf Club plans first 2013 events

Haileyville’s Martin throws no hitter

Bowling Bulletin: Position rounds shaping up

Weekly McAlester News-Capital Roundup

A full week back at work means a full week of stories! I’m definitely starting to get into a rhythm at the McAlester News-Capital, figure out what stories are set in stone each week. That in turn lets me know what days I need to find stories, so I can start looking for them earlier.

Now I just need to learn how to do everything faster.

Canadian football topples Seminole JV

Lady Savages take Tushka Tournament

Coweta outlasts McAlester softball in extra innings

New youth basketball league starts in late September

Krebs disc golf course seeks new look

Know Your Foe: Claremore

Errors cost Kiowa against Crowder

Box score: Claremore 21, McAlester 20 (OT)

Zebras stun Buffaloes in overtime

Regional Roundup: Canadian, Savanna stay undefeated

Weekly McAlester News-Capital Roundup

Another week, another Weekly Roundup! I’m supposed to write new articles every day, but our regional football preview has taken up a lot of my time recently. I spent a good 75 percent of Saturday, for example, banging out articles on the non-football programs (cheerleading, pom squad, band) at McAlester High School, all of which had to be written (including cuts for photos) by today.

I’ll spend this coming week on the seven actual football teams I have to preview, plus spend most of Friday at an MHS scrimmage on the road. I also have to produce a story for our “Quicksilver” special section, which is geared towards our older readers.

While I have two viable ideas for Quicksilver, I haven’t done more than make initial contact with either person, so I’ll also need to interview, write, get photos and caption everything before this coming Thursday.

I figure I have one more week of diminished daily production, then I should get back to producing about 10-12 stories a week, hopefully on a wide array of sports and teams. Until then!

Tigers Shut Out Lady Buffs in Season Opener

Eagle Hill Disc Golf Mini-Tournament Saturday

Serving helps McAlester volleyball top Noble

Quinton softball starts season 2-1

Two McAlester Softball Teams in Hartshorne Tournament

Weekly McAlester News-Capital Roundup

This past week, I learned about furloughs. Basically, they’re unpaid days off we have to take a few times every quarter. Other small-town reporters I know have mentioned them, so I think they’re an industry-wide phenomenon. But considering how strictly I have to adhere to a 40-hour week, losing eight hours can make avoiding having to ask for overtime really arduous. And when a typical Saturday involves four hours in the morning and then eight at night, it’s even tougher.

Still, my furlough gave me a chance to explore Tulsa a bit, so there’s always an upside to everything. And I still wrote at least one story for publication every day this past week (except Tuesday, which is my first day of the work-week, making it impossible to write for). Enjoy!

McAlester High School to Offer Soccer in 2013

Low Turnout Doesn’t Cancel Football Camp

Next Level Sports Camp Wraps in McAlester

Pittsburg Founders Day Offers Rodeo & Races

MHS Volleyball Already in Preseason

Pat Vincent Bowls ‘Em Over

Photo Gallery: Founders Day Rodeo in Pittsburg

Josh Ramsey Calls Eagle Hill Disc Golf Course Home

USA Ultimate: Girls’ High School Northeasterns Roundup

Amherst entered the girls' High School Northeasterns tournament on a mission. Read more at USAUltimate.org! (Burt Granofsky/UltiPhotos.com)

I had a dream. I dreamed my old teammates from Nietzsch Factor, Wesleyan’s men’s Ultimate team, logged on to USA Ultimate’s website. And who should they find on that site but yours truly, who wrote both a preview and a Day 1 recap of the girls’ High School Northeastern Championship that took place this past weekend at Rogers Field in Devens, Mass.

“Goose is writing for USA Ultimate?” my teammates would say. “I remember him. He didn’t even like sports in college. And he sucked at Ultimate!”

Then they’d all read my stories and realize that, while my physical skills may never have reached A-team caliber, my understanding of Ultimate’s language and strategy was always top-notch.

And then they’d email me and say hi. Pretty nice dream, wouldn’t you say?

To learn about the teams, check out my preview. Then find out how they did with my Day 1 recap (for Day 2, check out a recap not written by me). And look for my feature in USA Ultimate Magazine later this summer!