The long, winding road in sports
Just recently, I was asked what was the first sports event I ever covered.
I didn’t have to think too long because the fall of 1965 was a pretty interesting one for me.
For one thing, I had just enrolled at Suomi College after working at McLouth Steel Co. in Trenton for one year.
I might have worked at McLouth longer, but for a draft notice I received just four months after I graduated from high school.
The letter instructed me to report for an induction physical at Fort Wayne, just a couple of miles down Fort Street in Detroit.
The Vietnam War was just heating up after a contrived (by the United States) incident in the Bay of Tonkin. President Lyndon Johnson announced that he would be upping the monthly draft call. That made my decision to enroll in college that much easier to do.
Suomi (now Finlandia University) had a journalism class and just one intercollegiate sport, men’s basketball, at that time.
Covering the basketball team would be my main job as part of the class.
After writing a couple of Suomi games, I was asked by late Daily Mining Gazette editor Dick Loranger if I would be interested in covering some local high school sports.
I agreed and ended up being assigned a Jeffers-L’Anse High basketball game.
The run-and-gun Purple Hornets that season proved to be of the very best teams this area has ever produced. Under coach Bill “Sugar” Popp, they would win the Class C state championship.
After working two years in Milwaukee, I ended up getting drafted. I would be in the Army for three years, two of those overseas.
I returned from the service in 1972, and began covering games right away.
To make a long story short, I’ve been writing about sports (and sometimes news) ever since.
Just the other night, I was assigned an Ishpeming at Houghton boys basketball game.
Bradley Sirard, a promising freshman, led the Gremlins in scoring with 15 points in the contest.
It occurred to me that I had written about games involving three generations of the Sirard family.
Grandfather Jerry Sirard was a stellar two-sport athlete at L’Anse in the early 1970s. His three daughters all had played basketball for the Hornets in the 1990s and two of those, Ginny and Brooke, totaled more than 1,000 points in their careers.
I had written many games involving two generations involved in athletics. In fact, my own son and grandson, were among those.
But I had never reached the three generations milestone, although I was close in a couple of instances.
And it hit me just how long and winding a road this really has been.