A former Cape Cod basketball coach passed away in early December, and my assignment that night was to help interview people for a story that ran the next day. It was sad, certainly, but even still I found it to be an enjoyable reporting experience, one in which I felt like I actually did some good.
The story, in which I shared my byline with another reporter, helped characterize the legacy of this man. It showed how much of an impact one person can have on a community, and maybe it gave people who knew him a chance to work through some of their own feelings about his death. I walked away from that story in a pretty good mood.
I helped with another story about death two weeks later, and this one wrecked me. Two local hockey players, kids I’d interviewed and gotten to know a little during football season, died in a car crash driving home after practice, and I spent part of my shift that night talking to coaches and athletic directors trying to confirm what had happened.
My part in reporting this story was much smaller than before. I didn’t get a byline, the follow-up stories on the candlelight vigil at the high school and the funerals a week later went to reporters on the community news beat, not the sports desk, and all of that was completely appropriate.
Yet even making a few calls concerning two dead teenagers was enough to send me into a tailspin. I ended my shift that night with a semi-incoherent rant against the unfairness of God, or the universe, or whatever was or wasn’t out there, and I did so loudly enough to probably make a few people in the newsroom uncomfortable.
The plastic Christmas tree standing in the newsroom also mysteriously fell over and broke in half while I was ranting, so maybe there is something up above, and it didn’t particularly like what I was saying.
I’ve since gained some measure of peace with what happened, maybe giving myself some measure of catharsis by covering a January hockey game that honored the two players. But I’m still surprised at how two stories so close to each other in what actually happened could produce two vastly different reactions.
Here’s everything I wrote in December for the Cape Cod Times.
Upper Cape win its first vocational football title
High school football scouting reports for state championships
Super Bowl preview: Unbeaten Clippers chasing after school history
Unbeaten Falmouth’s triple option blasts Marblehead for state title
State championship a payoff for Clipper seniors
Nauset’s McCully named New England Coach of Year
Rams lose season-opener; DiBona scores 14
Boys basketball: Grant’s double-double helps Dolphins win season-opener against Barnstable
Mashpee and Falmouth state football champs meet in hoops rivalry tonight
Mashpee blasts Falmouth 55-37 in season-opening showdown
C&I splits into two basketball divisions
LEGEND OF THE CAPE
Andrade’s 25 points fuel quick-starting Vineyarders in win over D-Y
Bourne 79, Wareham 76: Chris Davis scores 20 as Bourne tops Wareham for third straight time
Boys basketball: Pressure defense helps Whalers win third straight
Bourne basketball starters putting up big numbers
High school notes: Soccer star Dawson having Whale of time in hoops
Cape schools produced seven state titles in 2016
In Falmouth, cheers turn into tears