Three years ago this morning, I walked under the downtown parking deck in the dead of night, met Zach Kukkonen at the back door and started working at the Daily Mining Gazette.
I didn't know what to expect that day, and most days I still don't. I like it that way. Every day is a little bit different.
I'd like to believe that I'm getting better at this job. Some days I believe it, others not so much. However, I'd like to believe that every day I'm at least learning from my mistakes. You, the readers, deserve as much.
Here's a handful of things I've learned over the last year:
Whenever I wonder if high school sports matter as much as I sometimes think they do, I have weeks like this one. I think I've been asked by about 10 different people what my thoughts are on the demise of Gwinn's football season. I thought about making the whole thing the subject of this week's column, but I figured that there isn't much crossover to the Copper Country and, as someone who hasn't lived in Gwinn full-time in nine-plus years, I didn't feel knowledgable enough to put my opinions on paper. However, when people come up to you all week asking about your little Class C alma mater 2 1/2 hours away, that's telling.
Whenever I wonder if people are really reading, I just need to have an 8-8 week in my Gridiron picks. I heard about that even more than I heard about Gwinn lately. Frankly, I deserved it. But it's a long season, and as you'll see tomorrow, I'm capable of a comeback.
Even if it's 'just a scrimmage,' leave the field to the players. When you run afoul of this rule, there is no way of getting out of it without looking bad. Then again, the same could be said for more than just sportswriters: the game is better left to those between the lines.
If it's raining sideways, 40 degrees and you just got a clear, lit, in-focus photo for the front page in the first quarter, don't try and be a hero. Run for the press box. Your notes and extremities will thank you later.
If it doesn't look like a parking spot, don't park there. If it looks like a snowbank, don't even think about parking there. And if you violate rules one and two, you better hope at least one line of hockey players is around to help.
Sometimes your most important song ends up being in a minor key. It didn't turn out to be the championship cover you wanted to see or I wanted to produce, but I couldn't have been prouder of the March 26 paper we produced within hours of the Division II women's basketball national championship game.
Though I hope you were as proud of it as I was that night, I hope you're proud of our work every time they start up the presses downstairs. It's not easy. I figure there's at least 5,000 words in every section and getting one wrong (especially if it's a big one) is an unacceptable margin of error, but it's one that gets crossed on occasion.
For another year, I thank you for your praise on the good days and forgiveness on the bad ones. I hope I'll keep learning and you'll keep reading.
Brandon Veale can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.