Greetings, sports fans.
I promise you we’re going to have some fun.
My name is Jeff Vorva and I am the new sports editor of the Southwest Regional Publishing, which covers 12 high schools and three colleges for the Reporter and Regional News and 11 high schools for five other newspapers in Chicago and the suburbs.
First, a little about me.
I started out as a sportswriter in 1977 when I was in high school. I did it for 30 years -- including 10 years of covering the Cubs – before doing mostly news from 2008 until now. I’ve covered a lot of area sports over the years and have two kids who have played high school sports so I know the perspective of a parent all too well.
I may be the new guy to this section, but my driver’s license suggests I am no new guy.
After talking with the big bosses at our company, we agreed to take a new approach and philosophy to the way sports will be covered in the seven papers including this one. We want to be proactive and not reactive.
Like many weekly papers in the country, we come out on Thursday. Most people are getting excited for the games coming up over the weekend, which are 24-to-48 hours away. Yes, it’s nice to highlight last week’s games, but that shouldn’t be the main focus.
For the first time in a long time, we are having reporters actually out there covering games. Being at the games, and not just relying on phone calls from coaches, gives reporters flavor, emotion, the ability to monitor injury situations and gain extra insight that you just can’t get when you are not there. It sounds simple – Journalism 101 – but that’s been lacking I company-wide and we are changing that.
If we’re not at the game, we can’t capture the emotions from Friday’s come-from-behind Richards win. We also want to quote more athletes in our stories when possible.
Minor sports are going to get more play. Football and basketball will be king, but last week, Sandburg’s nationally-ranked cross country team graced the front page along with a story about Brother Rice’s football team. This week, Evergreen Park’s swimming team was featured for its workout/tribute to 9/11.
A good story is a good story whether comes from a football stud or a 98-pound badminton player. We would love to tell them all.
We’ll try to tackle some issue stories. During my tenure as Reporter editor, I wrote about the possibility of the IHSA voting to disband football conferences, including the storied Catholic League. Already I am thinking about a future piece on how some football-heavy schools are not even fielding sophomore teams this year because the numbers are down.
Oh, and when it comes to non-high school sports?
Youth sports, bowlers, beer-league softball players, golfers, stock car racers and other area athletes can all submit their news to us via firstname.lastname@example.org. We are not taking faxes, but we’ll take phone calls at 708-448-6161 for anyone with tips on athletes or teams we should know about. This isn’t just about high school and college sports.
This column will usually appear in this section weekly and if you read me the past three years in the Regional and Reporter, you know that anything goes. I hope to keep it mostly local but if there is something on my mind on the state, national or professional level, I’ll probably be barking about it. Or laughing about it.
So get ready. Things are going to change and we’re not going to please everybody. We’re not going to be able to be everywhere but we’re going to be physically at more events than we ever were.
We are going to try to be as compelling and fun as possible week and week out.
Now let’s get to work…