June 20, 2021

Peterson: Several pitch in to restore sports coverage

By Larry Peterson, contributing writer

As caretaker for many years of the tremendous Creston News Advertiser sports section that Max Sandeman built over an illustrious 30-year career before my arrival, it’s been a sobering past few weeks.

The expectations, of both our readers and many of us who toiled in that role in the past, have not been met at times. I’ll begrudgingly admit that.

But, there has been a convergence of unfortunate circumstances at the same time that has led to some unique challenges. While not regularly employed at the CNA anymore, I know, and trust some good people in leadership who are working on the situation. (An advertisement is running for a full-time sportswriter.)

While working at the state track meet, I started to hear some talk that we wouldn’t be gaining a new full-time sports writer in mid-June as we were expecting. There was an unforeseen financial situation that coincided with the departure of both Brennan Normand and Tyler Hetu within a few weeks of each other.

That made for some scrambling during the spring season, but we got some valuable fill-in duty from Caleb Nelson in our Adair County Free Press office, as well as associate editor Sarah Scull. I was allowed to help occasionally on a freelance basis, which certainly confused a lot of folks who greeted me with, “I thought you were retired?”

Yeah, I intend to return to that status soon. When I worked six days a week for many years, I didn’t have many chances to enjoy some of the things I’ve taken more time for in recent years. Golf, bike rides, fun with grandchildren, actually spending time with Deb! I like retired life.

But, I certainly still enjoy providing the occasional feature story or coverage of a big sports event, such as the night Lenox’s Spencer Brown was drafted by the Buffalo Bills. And, more recently there was interesting work on Creston Outstanding Athlete features and this week’s state golf and tennis tournaments. (As I write this and the state golf story in Des Moines late Wednesday night, I’m preparing to shift to tennis duty early Thursday morning in Waterloo.)

However, when Caleb was out with a significant illness for awhile, the effect on nightly sports production was noticed because he had been supplying a huge portion of it. He developed that skill with some good experience in the Atlantic and Audubon markets in a previous position. (Fortunately, we recently got good news about his recovery and he will gradually get back into working this month.)

During that phase of being extremely shorthanded, it wasn’t always the sports section many of you were accustomed to seeing. In my shoes, it was kind of like watching a storm inflict damage to the beautiful house that Max Sandeman built; the one I tried to remodel and maintain for more than 35 years either as sports editor, or contributor to whose who followed in that role.

There were so many little things we used to do every night as a sports staff that just can’t be duplicated when you’re trying to fill gaps from an already busy news staff. It takes at least one, if not two people dedicated to sports to keep up with everything that occurs in the regions of our newspapers in Creston, Osceola and Adair County. I know, I lived it!

But, the intended message here is to not give up on us. Take note that several people have been thrust into emergency duty in a realm they are not fully prepared for, from a background standpoint. They are doing the best they can to keep readers informed, and I am continuing to help as much as I can for awhile yet. We hope to have someone on board soon.

We’ll restore that house that Max built, in time. At least, I’m going to try to facilitate that progress as much as I can.

One of the heartwarming things I’ve seen during this situation is how area media folks have stepped up to assist when asked. Even if they are technically a competitor for attention and revenue, it’s a community of good people willing to help their friends. I want to publicly salute Damon Helgevold at KSIB, Chanse Hall at the Mount Ayr Record-News and retired Nodaway Valley teacher Dan Dickinson for their recent contributions.

Also, many of my brethren at other papers in Hawkeye Ten Conference towns have been willing to share photos and information, as we regularly did for each other over the years when I sat in that chair full-time.

Let us know when we can return a favor! Well, ask the CNA newsroom. I may be back in retirement, fishing at Green Valley or headed there on a bike ride. Until then, I’ll gladly pitch in. This sports section that Max and I dedicated our lives to just means to much to me, and a community proud of its athletics.

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Contact the writer:

Email: malachy.lp@gmail.com

Twitter: @larrypeterson