Following Niles Kruger at an event confirmed my ambitions to pursue a career in covering prep sports, but even more so reminded me of their importance.
Kruger is the sports editor for the Monroe News and recently allowed me to shadow him at a Flat Rock High School basketball game to observe how he covers local sporting events.
Despite his repeated insistence that his teaching skills were not strong, he offered an abundance of knowledge that I hope to utilize one day covering prep sports myself.
It was an amazing opportunity because I don’t have an interest in covering collegiate athletics or professional sports, though I wouldn’t turn down a conversation with Detroit Lions Dan Campbell, simply because running through a brick wall sounds fun. Campbell is notoriously hard to interview.
Writing a story about a backup quarterback who tossed a few touchdowns in a game against the crosstown rival is so much more appetizing to me, and I believe is so much more powerful and can reach deeper inside of us than even coach Campbell’s post-game comments do.
Do not mistake me, if Jared Goff from the Lions hoists the Lombardi Trophy for the Honolulu Blue, I would be rapturous, consuming articles from anyone with a pen and paper across the globe.
But what would those stories mean to Goff? Would he even read them? Would they inspire the reader for more than the time it takes to read them?
I can’t say for sure, but I would assume my hypothetical backup quarterback much more likely to still have his story, even if it’s collecting dust in his basement.
How many of Kruger’s stories are still out there? When was the last time someone wiped the dust off of one that was more than a decade old and gave it a read?
I can’t say for sure to that either, but what I do know is they’re out there, collecting dust, just like this story’s backup quarterback.
A longtime friend of mine was featured in one of these local stories many years ago after blocking a punt, recovering a fumble for a touchdown and adding a few sacks.
An argument can be made that a certain individual’s touchdown pass at the end of the half and exceptional coverage in the secondary was much more instrumental in that comeback victory, but what do I know.
That friend still has the story. He couldn’t say where but admitted it’s probably collecting dust somewhere.
He’s a firefighter now, and he sometimes offers paramedic services during football games, the same ones in which he once played.
Another friend had a story written about him and his father, which he said is probably collecting dust somewhere.
His dad won a state title and still holds the school rushing record; 25 years later, he was wearing the same colors and taking handoffs on the same field as his old man.
Ironically, it was Kruger who had the privilege of telling that story.
That friend is now the general manager at a popular gym in Toledo.
They both confessed, they’ll probably wipe that dust off one day and give the stories a read themselves or share it with their kids.
Those are the stories that matter. Those are the stories that deserve to be told, and the type of student-athletes I hope to have the chance to tell the community about one day.
Besides, dust is always going to need somewhere to settle.