Friday, March 14, 2014
Sports

Over the years, I've worked as assistant sports editor and outdoor columnist for The (Petersburg, Va.) Progress-Index; and as a full-time or freelance sports correspondent for The (Shreveport, La.) Times, The (Charlottesville, Va.) Daily Progress, the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch and other publications.

Currently, I am a sports editor for Richmond Suburban Newspapers, with a focus on The Mechanicsville Local and The King William Local. (And I had been responsible for the Goochland Gazette before a realignment within the company that freed up another editor to take over at the Gazette.)

Below are some samples from my sportswriting career. One thing to keep in mind as you check some of the links is that newspapers get sold or change online publishing platforms. When they do, stories that were linked to the original sites can disappear—as has happened to all of my work for the Petersburg Progress-Index. So if the links don't work, my apologies. I can't always keep up with the changes.

The Mechanicsville Local
Fencing academy teaches serious swordplay

Fencing may not be a huge sport in Mechanicsville, Va., but the Mechanicsville Fencing Academy is producing world-class athletes. I created a multimedia package—story, photographs, and video—to tell the story on the Academy and two of its top members: Stefani Deschner, one of the top-ranked fencers in the under-17 age group in the United States, and Rhiannon Harvey, a promising college prospect.

Here's the story: Fencing academy teaches serious swordplay

Here's the video The Academy

 

African American league all but forgotten

After stringing for the Richmond Times-Dispatch for 10 years, I began in 2010 also stringing for some of the Times-Dispatch's sister weeklies, including The Mechanicsville Local, in the Richmond Suburban Newspapers group. In another three years I became sports editor for The Local and the Goochland Gazette.

This is one of the first stories I did for The Local, a feature about an African-American baseball league with teams in Hanover County, Va.:

African American League all but forgotten

 

Far East Champions celebrate 55-year reunion

Here is another historical feature on baseball. This story is about a Richmond-area resident, Dan Porte, who expected to continue his prominent baseball career in college. Unfortunately for him, he was drafted, joined the newly formed U.S. Air Force—but found some exciting diamond time as an airman in the Far East:

Far East Champions celebrate 55-year reunion

 

A change in priorities for Earnhardt

I began to cover NASCAR races at Richmond International Raceway for The Local in 2011. My uncle, Cecil Lawrence, had done a lot of freelance photography and reporting on the NASCAR circuit in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s as NASCAR grew from a regional curiosity to a legitimate national sport. Unfortunately, he died shortly before I could call him and say, "Hey, guess what I'm doing this weekend?" Here is one of my first NASCAR stories for The Local, about Dale Earnhardt Jr., who was struggling to win races at the time:

A change in priorities for Earnhardt

 

Ryan Reed drives against diabetes

This story is about a young driver, Ryan Reed, who is working to have a career as a driver despite the challenges of diabetes. Reed and his crew are pioneering monitoring and management systems to allow him to continue in this physically demanding and potentially deadly sport, and in doing so, is opening doors for others with this condition to compete at the highest levels of other motorsports.

Ryan Reed drives against diabetes

 

Sponsorship role important for sponsors, racers

I confess to growing weary of historic venues changing their names every time some new corporate entity ponies up a lot of money under the guise of "sponsorship." Nevertheless, sponsorship is very important both to those who get the money as well as to those who give it. In this feature, I examine that relationship.

Sponsorship role important for sponsors, racers

 

Tie-dyed Confederate

To hell with the Vince McMahon's of this world with their pretentions to being in the "entertainment" business rather than the " 'rasslin' " business. 'Rasslin' is 'rasslin,' and Chris Osterfeld, a former high-school wrestling standout from Mechanicsville's Lee-Davis High School, is learning to play the game, so to speak, and is learning well. Under his alias, Chris Silvio, he works to bring a little bit of psychedelia—and maybe the odd chair-bash or two—to the ring.

Tie-dyed Confederate

 

Stratton says so long

Bob Stratton retired in 2013 after 34 years of public school education. The long-time coach and athletic/activities director left a substantial legacy of building—quickly—successful athletic programs. But he had been quite a generous mentor, too, sharing his experiences and insights with athletic directors at other schools, even at cross-town competitors. It's a wonder that people didn't call him, "Bob the Builder."

Stratton says so long

 

Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center: A gift that keeps giving?

While a lot of other folks were fawning over the opening of the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center and on the Redskins—Robert Griffin III, in particular— I was ondering what effect the training center would have on research into and outreach about sports injury prevention and treatment in the Richmond, Va., area. This was the first of a two-part series that tried to answer the question. (You can find the link to the second part below.)

Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center: A gift that keeps giving?

Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center: How can it help?

This article was the second of a two-part series examining how the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center would affect research into and outreach about sports injury prevention and treatment in the Richmond, Va., area. (You can find the link to the first part above.)

Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center: How can it help?

 

Ex-Atlee standout stays solid at The Mount

Sydney Henderson, a standout girls' basketball player from Atlee High School, saw her collegiate basketball career at Mount St. Mary's University threatened by a devastating knee injury. But the surgery and her hard work on and off the court after the operation is paying off with a promising senior season at The Mount.

Ex-Atlee standout stays solid at The Mount

 

Not just players: Powers, Spiller enter hall of fame

Two men, Bubba Powers and Benny Spillers, devoted much of their adult life to softball. Not your usual weekend warriors, these two played on teams that won national championships. They also worked off the field, as coaches, mentors—even umpires. For their hard work over decades-long careers, the two were rewarded (one posthumously) by their peers with induction into the local hall of fame.

Not just players: Powers, Spiller enter hall of fame

 

Superstitious Raiders win state volleyball championship

The magic erupted all around Atlee High School's girls' volleyball team as they worked their way through postseason play. They took care not to disturb anything that might disturb the forces propelling them toward the VHSL Group 5A state championship game—even if it meant letting their legs get a bit hairier than they would have liked.

Superstitious Raiders win state volleyball championship

 

Scores matter little in Special Olympics tourney

The Special Olympics came to Mechanicsville's Lee-Davis High School, with dozens of basketball games and skills sessions crammed into a busy schedule for the school's two gyms.

Who won? I don't know. Nor do I care. Scores were trivial compared to what the event meant for the participants, their families, and the volunteers helping put it on.

Scores matter little in Special Olympics tourney

Goochland Gazette
2nd grader getting boost from Bulldogs

From 2010 until the fall of 2013, the other weekly in the Richmond Suburban Newspapers group that I did a lot of stringing/editing for was the Goochland Gazette. While I still am the sports editor for The Mechanicsville Local, I took over The King William Local while another editor took over in Goochland.

This is one of my first stories for Goochland. It was about the football team's efforts to raise money for treatment and a cure for muscular dystrophy in the hope of helping one of its youngest fans:

2nd grader getting boost from Bulldogs

 

Towner finding success away from the football field

This was a story about a former Goochland High School football player whose knees twice forced him to change career goals. First, he wanted to play professional football. Second, he wanted to make a career of the U.S. Navy. The third career proved the charmed one—designing record-breaking racing motorcyles:

Towner finding success away from the football field

 

Harwood displayed unmatched dedication to team

This article, which appeared in an issue commemorating the Goochland High School football team's 2013 state championship, recounted the story of one of the team's assistant coaches, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor during the season, but who put off surgery—and put off notifying the team—until after the season was over:

Harwood displayed unmatched dedication to team

 

Autism no obstacle to baseball dreams

Dustin Powers knew for some time that he learned differently than other kids. But he was well into his teens before he learned he was autistic.

Dustin loves baseball, and he never considered letting his learning differences interfere with his dreams of playing:

Autism no obstacle to baseball dreams

 

St. Catherine’s coach plays for Team USA

St. Catherine's field hockey team has an amazing resource: a head coach that competes for Team USA. Don Warner, who has been playing at the international level since the 1980s, joined Team USA in August 2013 for the European Masters Open at Lisnagarvey Hockey Club in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

And Warren had a lot of fun, too:

St. Catherine’s coach plays for Team USA

 

St. Catherine’s students catch the wind

The students of St. Catherine's school engage in one sport that few other schools in the area field teams in—sailing. This feature tells the story of the team and where the sport of sailing fits within the nation's and region's long history of windjamming:

St. Catherine’s students catch the wind

Richmond, Va., Times-Dispatch
The Richmond, Va., Times Dispatch

A retrospective look at the career of Bill Neel, who stepped down after 30 years of coaching 7- to 9-year-old football players in Chesterfield County, Va., which appeared in the December 8, 2000, edition of the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

Calling it quits

 

The Richmond, Va., Times Dispatch

A profile of Al Rinaldi, a legendary central Virginia football coach who refuses to slow down in retirement, which appeared in the November 8, 2000, edition of the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

Coach for life: Rinaldi takes turn with Hawks

 

The Richmond, Va., Times Dispatch

An on-deadline story about a football game between Varina High School and Atlee High School, which appeared in the October 28, 2000, edition of the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

No. 1 Blue Devils cruise to victory: Win special for Varina Assistant

One game, two stories

On March 7, 2003, I did double duty (with permission), filing one story about a high school girls basketball playoff for the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch, and another version for the (Woodbridge, Va.) Potomac News and the Manassas (Va.) Journal-Messenger. The game had one of the most exciting, and stunning, endings I have ever seen. I hope the stories did justice to it.

One game, two stories

The Charlottesville, Va., Daily Progress
The Charlottesville, Va., Daily Progress

An on-deadline story about a basketball game between Charlottesville High School and Broadway High School, which appeared in the February 8, 1994, edition of The Daily Progress:

No psychos, Knights dispose of Broadway: Harrowing as ever, Charlottesville wins 69-56

 

The Charlottesville, Va., Daily Progress

An on-deadline story about a softball playoff game between Madison High School and Powhatan High School, which appeared in the June 2, 1992, edition of The Daily Progress:

Madison softball stymied by Powhatan in Region B final

The Shreveport, La., Times
The Shreveport, La., Times

An on-deadline story about a Texas League baseball game between the Shreveport Captains and the Midland Angels, which appeared in the July 28, 1987, edition of The Times:

Dixon's speed kills Angels: Shreveport outfielder scores winning run on Midland error

 

The Shreveport, La., Times

A sidebar -- about a man running a marathon for the first time -- to accompany a series of stories on the Red River Marathon, which appeared in the February 23, 1987, edition of The Times:

First-timer Terrio runs step by step