April 2017 Cape Cod Times Roundup

I interviewed Mark Spitz last week. It was kind of a surreal experience.

Spitz is far and away the most famous person I’ve ever interviewed. The sole reason for the interview was that he was speaking at an event organized by the advertising side of the Cape Cod Times.

I knew I wanted to ask him about his high school and club swimming experience, since the Cape has several elite high school and club teams, and I knew I wanted to ask him about how his approach has changed over the years, since the Cape has a large contingent of older readers. But beyond that I went into the interview with no specific angle or feature idea, only some very broad notions of where the interview could go and the hopes some kind of through-line for a feature would emerge later.

I’m still not entirely sure I found a central theme, but the story came out fine. So far as I know the paper didn’t get a bunch of crap from Spitz’s people – he’s the first person I’ve interviewed who has “people” – so I assume he found the interview somewhere between enjoyable and standard.

For the most part I’m happy with how it came out. Hopefully readers liked it.

Here’s that, and everything else I wrote in April.

Continue reading

Posted in Baseball/Softball, Cape Cod Times Articles, Cross Country/Track and Field, Lacrosse, Olympics, Tennis, Volleyball | Leave a comment

March 2017 Cape Cod Times Roundup

March can be a slow time for high school sports. Only a few teams (if any) are left in the playoffs, and no matter how deep a team makes it, there are still 10 mandatory preseason days before spring games can begin.

It can be stressful not immediately knowing what you’re going to cover. But a lack of obvious stories can be a good thing, as it forces you to get creative in what you write about.

I wrote two features on a Barnstable graduate who played for Division III men’s basketball champion Babson College in March. I tracked down multiple former coaches of Molly Bent, a freshman on the UConn women’s basketball team.

I spoke with Upper Cape graduates who’d played for the first Rams football teams for a story on their coach stepping down. I got in touch with dozens of golf courses for a “winter wasn’t that bad” feature and talked to the dad of a Falmouth football and hockey player who died in December over the award he’d created.

All in all, a fairly satisfying month. And with the spring now underway – assuming this stupid rain ever lets up – I’m predicting more satisfaction over the coming months.

Here’s everything I wrote in March for the Cape Cod Times.

Currence scores 20 points as Mariners sink Pirates

Warriors ride strong start to victory in tourney opener

Mashpee’s Landry makes verbal commitment to Franklin Pierce

Boys basketball: Mashpee’s season ended by ORR’s fourth-quarter comeback

No. 9 Sharks cruise into showdown vs. Old Colony

HS notebook: Falmouth’s Duff-Still headed for Westfield State field hockey

Monomoy routs Old Colony, 67-47

Clippers can’t find answers as Tigers blast way to D2 South finals

Monomoy takes on strong and proven Cathedral squad in title game

Sharks take best shot in team’s first sectional final

Monomoy lays groundwork for program

FA’s Earley headed for BC lax team

Centerville’s Bent ready to get taste of NCAAs

High school football: Hernon stepping down at Upper Cape

Cool as Rice: Former Barnstable captain helps Babson return to Final Four

Flippers’ Pinsonneault makes Senior Showcase

Rain, shine or snow, golf goes on

Spring arrives today for sports teams

High school spring season: Defending state champ SJP II Lions among Cape teams with opening-day enthusiasm

Barnstable’s Rice concludes senior year with championship

Seahawks’ Olsen nabs MIAA honor

Falmouth hockey team wins sportsmanship award

Monomoy’s McCullough among 26 new coaches for Cape teams

Mashpee’s Falcon Festivals feature baseball, softball teams

Posted in Baseball/Softball, Basketball, Cape Cod Times Articles, Football, Lacrosse | Leave a comment

Book Review: “The Best American Sports Writing 1997″

“The Best American Sports Writing 1997,” edited by George Plimpton

Skip The Best American Sportswriting 1997. This has to be said off the bat, before we can go any deeper.

This is the 16th volume of Glenn Stout’s annual series reviewed here, and BASW 97 (edited by George Plimpton) feels the least connected to life as it currently is. Too many of its stories feel entrenched in the sports world of the 1990s, devoting pages and pages towards athletes who never wound up proving themselves worthy of such eloquence.

This volume is the first to make me question the entire premise of this project, which is to over time read and review every volume dating back to the first one, from 1991. Who knows how many stories I’ve read in recent volumes wind up being nothing more than well-written tales of irrelevant people? And if that’s the case, is it worth continuing? Continue reading

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February 2017 Cape Cod Times Roundup

Here’s everything I wrote in February for the Cape Cod Times, plus one story I didn’t write. It’s about our newspaper’s performance at the New England Newspaper Association awards banquet at the end of the month.

A feature I wrote took third in the “Sports Story” category, and the sports section took third place as well. We took home several first-place plaques, winning both Reporter and Photojournalist of the Year and taking first in several categories related to our digital/multimedia product.

But we also got a lot of second- and third-place finishes. I was struck after the banquet at how bummed some of my colleagues seemed to be over that, even as I for the most part felt good about winning my fifth award in three years.

Could I have finished higher? Yes. Would I like to write a story that brings home the gold at some point? Absolutely.

But there’s no point in getting down over a result you can’t control. I could write the greatest story of my career, and I could still end up second or third behind someone who wrote a better story, or at least one that better connected with a panel of judges.

There’s no real scoring system to evaluating journalistic excellence. Everything is subjective, everything is qualitative, and what one judge says is brilliant, another could call merely good or perhaps even bad.

To paraphrase a Latin proverb, there’s no accounting for people’s tastes. So feeling like you under-performed by finishing below first in a category whose other award-recipients you won’t even discover until an hour before the ceremony is pointless at best. At worst, it robs you of a chance to feel good about something that was still better than all the entries that weren’t deemed even as good as yours.

So I was proud to win third place at NENPA. And if it happens again next year, I’ll be proud then as well.

Red Raiders close in on clinching playoff spot

School notebook: Barnstable restaurants treat Falmouth hockey

Patriots’ bond is solid with Falmouth football coach

Flipping for Flippers: Kondracki and Cann key for Falmouth-Mashpee

Deep Mashpee ties for Patriots’ Kraft

Fenton’s double-double leads Canalmen to victory

Currence, Mariners top Lions

Van Voorhis leaves unique legacy at Falmouth Academy

Mariners’ Currence makes history

Strong defense, and 17 points by Houston, help Red Raiders grab a piece of OCL crown

Clippers maneuver for choice shots, playoff plot thickens for Dolphins

D-Y leads Cape athletes at divisional track meets

Dykas has perfect splash for Sandwich diving team

Nantucket leads Cape swimmers at State

Ten Cape wrestlers make State

Bourne rings up more than 100 points in win over GNB Voke

Seniors lead Dolphins to season-ending OT win over Red Raiders

Sandwich’s Hayes lives on through tournament

Canalmen rain down 3s on Nauset

Playing for dad at Bourne, Jacob Ashworth’s path produces unforgettable memories and scoring record

High school notebook: All-State track, wrestling meets begin

SJP II boys fall to Cardinal Spellman in OT thriller, 3-2

Times wins 44 New England journalism awards

Sandwich sophomore embraces responsibility of goalkeeping

No. 9 Warriors ousted in Div. 2 tourney

Posted in Basketball, Cape Cod Times Articles, Cross Country/Track and Field, Football, Hockey | Leave a comment

January 2017 Cape Cod Times Roundup

The Cape Cod Times sports department is finally back to full strength after being down a person or two since the summer. That’s meant I have more days to cover games, more opportunities to write features, and more chances to get to know my beat beyond the nuts-and-bolts game recaps.

I’m always a bit nervous when my responsibilities expand. I was nervous when I moved to Oklahoma for my first full-time sports reporting gig, and I was nervous when I joined the Cape Cod Times, a bigger beat with more high-profile components (the Cape Cod Baseball League being the most obvious example).

But so far it’s been quite enjoyable to have the extra person. Feature-writing is always a bit more time-consuming than game recaps, but the end result is usually far more satisfying. And having a couple extra things to work on each week ensures I never have to worry about working a full complement of hours.

January’s batch of stories is a good mix of features, recaps and notebooks (which, to be honest, I kinda hate). There were a lot of bylines, and most of them were for articles I think came out pretty well.

Laine, Canalmen too much for Fairhaven

Falmouth’s hockey teams soar to victory, powered by love for lost teammates

Former Upper Cape coach Roy Porter dies of cancer

All-USA football honor for James Lavin

Surging Dennis-Yarmouth emerges victorious over Sandwich in basketball

Grieving the death of former coach, Rams came up short

Nauset’s LaBranche heads to LA

DiBona scores 32 in tight win for Rams

Strong defense leads to Monomoy’s 54-40 win over rival Cape Tech

Clippers find way to win in ‘sloppy’ shutout of Furies

Training Sharks: Arnold building a program at Monomoy

James writes another chapter in Barnstable history

Posted in Basketball, Cape Cod Times Articles, Football, Hockey, Soccer | Leave a comment

December 2016 Cape Cod Times Roundup

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

Posted in Basketball, Cape Cod Times Articles, Football, Soccer, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

November 2016 Cape Cod Times Roundup

I first started blogging in July 2009. I wasn’t yet sure if I wanted to pursue sports journalism as a career, but I figured the more I wrote, even if it was just on my own site, the better I’d be.

I picked the hosting site sportsblognet.com, mostly because I googled something like “free sports blogs” and that was the first result. It was WordPress, so it was easy to learn, and I stuck with it.

SportsBlogNet was a fine repository for my sports writing. I used “Goose’s Gabs” for various purposes: writing exclusive content such as my reviews of the Best American Sports Writing series; referring readers to stories written for bigger websites like Somerville Patch, Boston.com or DigBoston; and eventually posting weekly and later monthly roundups of stories written for the McAlester News-Capital and now the Cape Cod Times.

But then a new company took over SportsBlogNet.com, and with that transition came issues I’d never before faced. Several months’ worth of stories were erased after a hardware failure in February forced the site to reboot from a much older backup. I had to recreate several old posts, including a BASW review that I’m sure isn’t quite the same as the original.

I started backing up more frequently after that, but I stayed with the same hosting site out of convenience. But then it happened again about a month ago, a hardware failure once again forcing me to reconstitute several stories that I’d already written. This time I only lost roundups, so they were easy to recreate beyond the introductory paragraphs, which this time I  just ignored.

But I’m not going through this again. I appreciate SportsBlogNet hosting my site for almost 7 years, but I refuse to stay with a site I no longer trust.

So here’s everything I wrote for the Cape Cod Times in November 2016, for the first time published directly through WordPress.com instead of a separate site that uses the same software.

With any luck, these kinds of problems won’t happen again.

High school volleyball tournament: Defending champ Red Raiders win top seed

Field hockey: Team captains play leading roles in locking down unbeaten D-Y defense

Field hockey: Seniors boost Blue Knights to 14 wins and back into playoffs

High school notes: Cordeiro finds joy in goal for Crusaders

Volleyball tournament: Dolphins sweep Stoughton in Div. 2 first round

School football: Andrade, Ford run with Mashpee’s legacy

Field hockey: Dolphins shut out Dragons in playoff opener

School football: LaFrange scores 6 TDs in Falmouth’s 53-19 rout of Milton

Boys soccer: Unbeaten Warriors begin tourney journey with impressive win

Girls soccer: C&I champ Sturgis West tops Monomoy to move on

Boys soccer: Unbeaten Nauset advances in tourney with 20th consecutive win

High school football Week 10 scouting reports

PURE SPEED AHEAD: Michael LaFrange has scored 19 TDs in Falmouth’s 9-0 start this football season

Girls volleyball: Dolphins run’ ends in semis

College signings week: Falmouth’s Couhig to play baseball at BC

Mashpee 36, Seekonk 0: Falcons win second straight South football title

Another South title for Barnstable volleyball

Boys soccer: Unbeaten and top seed Nauset plays Feehan for South title

Boys soccer: Whalers’ strong season halted by Cohasset

Mulhern, Holzman sign D-I NCAA baseball commits

Boys soccer: 22nd consecutive shutout earns South title for Nauset

Girls volleyball: Barnstable takes on Central Catholic in state semis

Girls volleyball: Barnstable defeats Central Catholic to clinch spot in Saturday’s championship match

School notes: Bowl game a dream for Tabor QB Billard

Falmouth football rolling into state playoffs

School football: New-look Falcons take another run at title

Local cross country runners honored

Girls volleyball: Barnstable looks to spike Newton North for 18th state title

Girls volleyball: Red Raiders sweep to 18th state title

School football: 11th straight win sends Clippers to title game

Thanksgiving football: Barnstable, unbeaten Falmouth renew traditional rivalry game

School notes: SJP II’s Campbell twins headed to Catholic

School football: Thanksgiving tradition runs deep for Red Raider captains

Thanksgiving football: Couhig passes for 3 TDs in unbeaten Falmouth’s win over Barnstable

Thanksgiving football: Couhig leads Clippers past Red Raiders 40-21

High school notes: Barnstable’s challenging schedule pays off with title

Opening Day Dribbles: Sandwich girls basketball team among squads starting season off with workouts

School football: Championship breakfast brings Falmouth and Mashpee players to Patriots’ home stadium

School football: Falcons learn from Nantucket loss

HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL SCOUTING REPORT

School football: Falmouth back at full strength

Falmouth football offense wants ball first

Posted in Baseball/Softball, Cape Cod Times Articles, Cross Country/Track and Field, Football, Soccer, Volleyball | Leave a comment