By Ryan Kaczmarski
Wow! Is it really 2014, already?
New Year’s Day gives us all the promise of wiping the slate clean and starting anew. Although 2013 was probably one of the most important years in my life personally, by becoming a first-time father in April with the birth of a healthy baby boy, there were a few things I did professionally which I wish would have gone a little more smoothly.
As you all know, we launched the new West Side Sports (WSS) section, which runs in The Press, the North Ridgeville Press and West Life newspapers, in late August. The first few weeks were a little rocky while we tried to find the proper format to better serve all of the communities we cover under one sports banner.
Many of you pitched in with tremendous feedback (some politely and some angrily), and all the feedback has been appreciated, but we still need more direction from the readers.
Moving on, the past fall season was one which I will never forget, as it was the first time I covered a state championship team, with the Rocky River varsity girls soccer team going all the way to Columbus and securing the OHSAA Division II state title.
After the season-opening 8-1 victory over Beaumont, I asked Rocky River head coach Patrick Hopkins if it was a “state championship or bust” season, and he replied that they were going to take it one game at a time, and they did by finishing 22-0-1.
Seeing those girls play for each other all season, picking up where someone might be a little banged up or playing out of their normal position, reaffirmed my decision to cover scholastic sports as a career.
There were many other great stories from the previous year, including the multitude of area student-athletes who are taking their academic and athletic careers to the college level by accepting scholarships to various colleges and universities around the country.
As a new parent, and a step-parent of two others – one being a 6 year old who plays ice hockey – I am starting to understand the sports-parent mentality that I have shrugged my shoulders at over the years, thinking, “How can they act like that, just let the kids play.” I now know why dads scream at the referees and coaches. I’m not saying that it is always the right thing to do, but I understand that all you want as a parent is for your child to succeed.
I see a lot of kids who are competing in just one sport, which is played all year long. I still think that diversity in the sports you play, will make a better athlete, both physically and mentally.
I also need to do a better job at diversifying the sports covered here at WSS. I have received many calls and e-mails about the current winter sports season, and your calls have not gone unnoticed. There will be more sports covered in the new year, including swimming and diving, gymnastics and varsity bowling. We will still provide all the boys and girls basketball, ice hockey and wrestling coverage you have been getting used to seeing, while trying to get a more expanded look at some of the local youth teams and recreation leagues.
This is where you come in. If you have an idea for a story you would like to see in WSS, please contact me either by e-mail at email@example.com, or call and leave me a message at 440-871-2214. Also, send in any photos you think would be good to print in our sports section. We appreciate the submissions, and no story is too big or too small for consideration.
Please enjoy a look into the big headlines from the last calendar year in sports, and I hope each and every one of you have a happy New Year!