Day 125 “College World Series”

Look a Dodger fan at the College World Series!
Look a Dodger fan at the College World Series!

I am sitting in the Press Box at the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska right now!  I just had a follow up interview with Adam and Anthony from Austin, Texas down on the field, it feels great to be here.   I drove up from St. Joseph, Missouri yesterday just in time to watch the Ole Miss victory over TCU.  I am not going to write about a lot today but tomorrow I will give you an overview of what I saw, heard and experienced.

If you enjoy this story and you would like to help me complete the “Baseball in America Tour 2014″, which is roughly 265 days, please click on the following link to see how you can help at www.baseballbuddha.com. Follow me on Twitter and like my Facebook page! Please share this on your Facebook page and Twitter. I appreciate all the help I can get!

 

Day 124 “Day in the Sun”

Terry signing a copy of his book!
Terry signing a copy of his book!

When I got to Wisconsin Rapids and saw the stadium where the Rafters play their home games, I was excited!  It was another stadium complex that had that “hokey” hometown feel to it. T he town seemed to embrace what they had and didn’t try to make it into something it was not. There’s nothing especially elaborate or flashy about Witter Field, which was built in 1928, its just a gentle reminder of how pro baseball used to be played. How ballparks felt in the 1940’s and 1950’s.

As I wandered around the park I noticed a local TV reporter interviewing one of the Rafters players. I had just come from Alexandria, MN and wasn’t feeling as important as I did there.  Funny how life can humble you at times. I was the center of attention with people wanting to meet me and then a couple of days later nobody knows my name.  I was in the mood to find a good story to write. I have changed up how I was writing my posts, but I wanted to find a person with an interesting perspective.  I walked by a table and it appeared to be a book signing going on. My exact thought was, “This must not be a big deal since the TV reporter wasn’t covering it”.

As I was standing watching the reporter getting some action shots of the game, the Public Address announcer said that Terry Stake would be signing his book through out the game. He then went on to say something about 40 years in broadcasting. I didn’t catch it all but I perked up and thought this had to be an interesting story.  I walked over to the table and started rambling to the guy sitting behind the table. I think I said something like, “I am impressed with people who have written a book, something I have always wanted to do”, as I was shaking the mans hand.

After I said all of this the man (Randy Pahl) pointed to Terry who was sitting at the end of the table. I laughed at myself and introduced myself again and explained what I was doing.  I was intrigued by Terry’s story but he wasn’t telling his story, but that of the local communities.  His book is called “Looking at the Beams – My Life in Broadcasting”.  He signed a copy for me. I went to watch the son of a friend who plays for the Rafters and was to bat. I started reading Terry’s book after my friend’s son singled with the bases loaded. I was impressed with him!  Terry impressed me, also. He told me, “It was about the kids playing and not him.”  It was their “day in the sun”.

The “something about 40 years” I mentioned previously, was about Terry’s longevity, becoming a fixture in Wisconsin Rapids sports over four decades. He broadcasts for all of the wrestling, baseball, basketball, softball, football, hockey, soccer, track games.  He details all of this in his book, what it was like in the early days, where they would have to sit to do the broadcasts, along with injecting a lot of humor.  I couldn’t put the book down as the game was being played. I walked over to the table a few times to talk about an incident or two Terry encountered in his career.  What struck me time and time again with Terry was how he constantly gave credit to everyone else. How he made sure to mention all the people that he encountered during his career.

I took the following off Terry’s website.

“Very excited to read this book Terry! Being an athlete at Lincoln High School 1976-1979, I remember you well. You covered many sports including some of the girls games. We all knew your voice on the radio. We knew your face. When I was younger, I knew the spot where you sat to broadcast games at the Old Lincoln. The small hike up those back steps to the balcony. My Uncle George Hafermann always sat near your “booth”. I was usually sitting next to him. Congrats on the book. It’ll be fun to travel back down the road with your writings.  Laurie A Craft 1979 Lincoln High School.’

If you live in the Greater Wisconsin Rapids area and played sports, Terry probably knows you and you probably know him. He retired in 2009, celebrate his broadcast career like he celebrated you when you were competing. Go to his website and purchase his book.  One last thing, the local TV reporter walked by the table, Terry spoke to her. She said she was from New York and was new to Wisconsin Rapids.  She missed a great opportunity to interview a local sports broadcasting legend, a story sitting in front of her. I am sure that Wisconsin Rapids is a stepping stone to bigger markets and her instincts will improve over time, like Terry’s did in his 42 years.  Terry,  it is now your “Day in the Sun”.

If you enjoy this story and you would like to help me complete the “Baseball in America Tour 2014″, which is roughly 265 days, please click on the following link to see how you can help at www.baseballbuddha.com. Follow me on Twitter and like my Facebook page! Please share this on your Facebook page and Twitter. I appreciate all the help I can get!

 

 

 

Day 123 “Thunder and Rain”

Great WPA Stadium!
Great WPA Stadium!

I got about ten hours of sleep last night!  I was super relaxed this morning as I listened to the thunder and the rain. There is something about that I enjoy. However, since rain was in the forecast all day in the Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo area, I decided to drive seven hours to Quincy, Illinois to catch a game between the Hannibal Cavemen and the Quincy Gems of the college Prospect League.  I have to say that I am very pleased with the stadium which was completed in 1939 and was built with WPA funding, just like Carson Park in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

I was excited to catch-up on my writing along with completing some information I was working on for G.G. of the Alexandra Blue Anchors. Even with a long drive ahead of me, I finally feel refreshed, hopefully tonight I sleep as well as I did last night. I have a three hour drive to St. Joseph, Missouri tonight or tomorrow, so I hope that doesn’t screw me up.

This guy rubbed his wife's arm and back the entire game!  Class Act!
This guy rubbed his wife’s arm and back the entire game! Class Act!

I really enjoyed the Midwest League All Star game last night. The West dominated the East. Even though, East team’s Kyle Farmer had a good game at catcher and had two walks. It is gorgeous right now in Quincy, in the upper 80’s and humid, just the way I like it! The drive over here was a little unnerving when I passed the Chicago area. A very bad storm in the area and it was hard to see. But! I made it.

I will be at another summer college league game tomorrow in MINK League. I did a blog about the summer college baseball and all the leagues a few weeks back, click here to read about them.  These leagues are all over the U.S. and are a great way for college players to gain more experience. The fan experience is also a lot of fun.  And, this is a wrap for now.

If you enjoy this story and you would like to help me complete the “Baseball in America Tour 2014″, which is roughly 265 days, please click on the following link to see how you can help at www.baseballbuddha.com. Follow me on Twitter and like my Facebook page! Please share this on your Facebook page and Twitter. I appreciate all the help I can get!

Day 122 “I love Mississippi!”

olemissI am sitting in a restaurant near Grand Rapids, Michigan and I am going to the Midwest League All Star game tonight. But, for the moment, I am watching the Ole Miss vs Texas Tech game that is on the TV.  Some Ole Miss fans are at a table next me. They are in town to go to the game, also, and just happens to be Kyle Farmer’s family.  Kyle is a catcher for the Great Lake Loons, which is the Class A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers. He is currently batting .304.  His grandmother, dad, and mom are all Ole Miss alumni.  His sister is going into her junior year but she chose Georgia, where she grew up. Bryan Farmer, Kyle’s dad, pitched in the Atlanta Braves system in the 1980’s. He made it to the Triple A level and played with all the guys that defined the Braves of the 1990’s, Ron Gant, Mark Lemke, Dave Justice and Mark Wohlers.

I extend a very special thanks to the Farmer family for picking up my tab for my food and drink!  Thank you, thank you, thank you!  That was a very nice surprise.  I have to say that I am one of the luckiest people around. I don’t know where I would be without the kindness of others.  Since I’m starting to recover from last week and being sleep deprived, my plan for today to write quick post and work on my schedule for the next month. My initial plan was going to go out west, but I have decided to change direction and go out east instead. I can see the Cape Cod League in the middle of summer. From what I hear, it is suppose to be gorgeous this time of year.  Kyle’s mom confirmed that it is beautiful. He played for the Bourne Braves a couple of years ago which is in that area.

I have written in previous blogs about my love of Mississippi College Baseball, especially Mississippi State and the Left Field Lounge. I have stated it is the best baseball fan experience in America, Southern Miss and “The Roost”. Now, I can say that Ole Miss has my favorite fans I have encountered away from Mississippi!  When this journey is all over I might just end up moving down there. Besides, Kyle’s grandmother was kinda flirting with me and said she would tour America with me.  All kidding aside, I will definitely be making a Mississippi college baseball tour next year!

I picked UC-Irvine to win the College World Series; but, now I am rooting for Ole Miss. Texas is my other team that I want since I had a great experience there. Tonight I will be watching the All Star game and rooting on Kyle. I will be paying attention to his career as it progresses and since he is in the Dodgers organization, all the better!  Time to wrap this up, I will get back on track with my writing, I want to get to the Terry Stake profile one of these days, he has such a good story, so please look for that in the next few days!

Ole Miss just scored on Texas Tech and is up 1-0 in the bottom of the seventh as I post this!  If you enjoy this story and you would like to help me complete the “Baseball in America Tour 2014″, which is roughly 265 days, please click on the following link to see how you can help at www.baseballbuddha.com. Follow me on Twitter and like my Facebook page! Please share this on your Facebook page and Twitter. I appreciate all the help I can get!

 

Day 121 “Checking in!”

tigerstadiumI am sitting in Hockeytown restaurant in Detriot, Michigan.  The weather outside is what I love, hot and humid.  I still feel tired from the last few days, but I figure I will be able to catch up on my sleep and my writing will get back on track over the next few days.  I am super excited to attend the College World Series on Friday in Omaha. I think I will be able to bring a unique perspective of what happens behind the scenes! I am watching the Texas vs Louisville game right now and I want the Longhorns in this one.  I want to see Adam and Anthony, if Texas doesn’t get eliminated.  There are four teams in CWS that I saw this year, Texas, TCU, Ole Miss and Oklahoma State. So those are the teams I am rooting for but I picked UC-Irvine to win it all.

I am heading to a Tigers game against the Kansas City Royals tonight. I have watched the Royals quite a bit this year so they might become my American League team… but Rob Dwyer might get on me for rooting for three teams!

 

 

Day 118, 119, 120 “Thanks Chad!”

brewer game
The Baseball Buddha Crew!
Dave and Chad!
Dave and Chad!
enters
Teri, Steve and Tom! Great family that is always there to encourage and support!

The last few days have been very busy!  I was in the Milwaukee area and went to a couple of Brewers games.  I stayed by my brothers Chad’s house, who graciously replaced my timing belt and water pump on my car with the help and expertise of Roger Lindsey.  As they were tackling this project on Friday night, I was attending the Brewers game with Mike Bruno, his wife and their son.  Mike and I were interviewed by WISN Channel 12 at the game regarding the journey which is suppose to air on Thursday.  Mike’s company, Bruno Independent Living Aids, and my brother Chad’s family donated quite a bit of money so I could do this trip. Without their support I would not have gotten this far.

the girls
What’s so funny?

What continues to amaze me is Chad’s unwavering support.  He is the type a guy everyone needs on their side. He has always gone the extra mile for his family and friends.  He has never expected anything in return. His love and commitment to others blows me away.

From Friday's game!  An "old" friend...  Scott, she needs you to run to Walgreens!
From Friday’s game! An “old” friend… Scott, she needs you to run to Walgreens!

Chad organized a Brewer outing for me on Saturday. He had t-shirts made up for everyone, got the tickets, he worked with my sister, Meg, to organize the food, got to Miller Park to get it all set up.  He did all this after he finished working on my car until 1 a.m. Friday night and then got up early to finish with Roger Lindsey.

Sami, Me and my Dad!
Sami, Me and my Dad!

I had an excellent time at the Brewers game with everyone that showed up. Stacy, from Day 75 “Bill Murray and Ashland! was also at the game!  She saw my brother wearing a Baseball Buddha shirt. She inquired to where we were and came over to say hi. That was a very nice surprise, but I forgot to get a picture of her and her husband.

Hannah and Me doing a selfie!
Hannah and Me doing a selfie!

I am going to post some of the pictures I took at the game and leave it at that.  I am extremely tired as I was out very late with some other friends after the game. I got up early to get to Chicago for an afternoon White Sox game.  Needless to say my writing has suffered, I will get back at it tomorrow.

To my entire family, I love you very much. I am truly blessed to have your support, thank you. I don’t know what I would do with out all of you.  I have a great story I want to write about Terry Stake of Wisconsin Rapids. I finished reading his book so I am excited to write a profile on him.

If you enjoy this story and you would like to help me complete the “Baseball in America Tour 2014”, which is roughly 265 days, please click on the following link to see how you can help at www.baseballbuddha.com. Follow me on Twitter and like my Facebook page! Please share this on your Facebook page and Twitter. I appreciate all the help I can get!

Day 117 “Busy”

Terry Stake's first selfie!
Terry Stake’s first selfie!

The next few days are going to be busy ones for me as I am back in the Milwaukee area.  I will be going to Brewer games tonight and tomorrow.  I was just up in Wisconsin Rapids to watch the Rafters play Kalamazoo. The son of a friend of mine plays for the Rapids and another is interning for them.  I was impressed with both of them!

This post will be rather short since I have a lot to get done today. My family and some friends are getting together for a Brewer outing tomorrow. Even though, I want to say that I met a guy in Wisconsin Rapids who was a local sportscaster for over 40 years in that area. He had a book signing at the game.  I am currently reading the book and I am excited to do a profile on him.  His name is Terry Stake, look for that in a couple of days!

I had breakfast with my beautiful daughter, Sami, this morning. She always makes me smile with her outgoing and gregarious personality!  She found a great job for the summer, along with working at Lockers Flower Shop, she will be working for Wild Flour Bakery selling their products at Farmers Markets. Please look for her and get some great bakery goods.

I forgot to mention that I was in Green Lake, Wisconsin at an American Legion baseball game. I spotted a really talented ball player that I want to keep my eye on, he is from the Fond du Lac area. I will put him on my “Watch” list!

That is all for today!

Day 116 “Talent Scout…”

baseballI love going to High School and American Legion baseball games.  I go to evaluate the talent in the games as I try to pick out the most athletically gifted kid on the field, even if that kid is on a team that is getting beaten badly.  I love to observe if he has “intuitive” baseball instincts to go along with the natural athletic physical gifts.

I was at a game recently and spotted a kid that impressed me. He fielded a short hop line drive at third base, turned and threw the ball to second, instinctively.  Problem was that there was no force out at second and the base runner that was there advanced to third and the batter was safe at first.  I was impressed with the kids fearlessness and reaction; but, had to question his mental focus by not knowing the situation.  During the next inning the same kid made a spectacular play at third when he fielded a ball coming across the infield. He fielded the ball in front of the shortstop wheeled around, fired to first to get the out.  He smiled, the shortstop pointed to him to acknowledge the nice play. I found the kid I wanted to observe.

When he came to bat the first time he spun his bat length wise in the on deck circle in his hand very nonchalantly, in a way that is hard to describe. I have seen people do it with pencils and pens, but not with a bat.  This kid seemed really relaxed and I liked his mechanics of his swing. His first at-bat was to the second baseman who threw him out.  I walked down the third base line to observe him more closely in the field.  He didn’t seem to take the warm-up throws between innings very seriously and threw side arm.  I wondered if his arm was hurting; or, if he had not warmed up properly before the game.

Even though the other team was pounding out a lot of hits, I was impressed with this kid’s instincts. He knew where he was to be in any given situation.  I questioned how well he has been coached and how much “dirt time”  he has had since his coaches weren’t very confident.  I wanted to find out how he preformed when he knew someone was focusing on him. I asked about him when one of his teammates was retrieving a ball.  I think he focused more on the game when he knew I was watching him. I wanted to give the, “I am a scout” impression.  I think he started pressing more, I caught him looking at me when he was in the field. He seemed nervous, not as relaxed the next time at-bat and struck out.

He was moved to shortstop. I questioned why he was playing at double play depth when that wasn’t the situation. I heard him make a comment about the position not being his favorite and wasn’t comfortable there.  He did field a tough ground ball when bases were loaded and threw home with an awkward throw. Even though, what I liked was he knew he didn’t have much time and it was a great effort.  What I didn’t like was he hung his head afterward.  I noticed that he was rubbing his arm after a throw and suspected that he didn’t have a very good warm up routine. When he ran to get into baseball positions, he seemed stiff.  What I loved, he was always on the glove when he was relaying a throw.  He seemed to have good arm strength but I worry that he will cause damage to it if he continues making hard throws without the proper warm-up. I didn’t get a good sense of his range since he was playing the shortstop position differently.

He seemed like a well-liked kid and had fun playing the game.  He did smile and say something to a kid on the opposing team that hit a double that was close to being a home run. I personally love that kind of interaction. I would rate the kid high, one that could play at the next level.  I was told he was 17 and going into his senior of high school. I don’t know what his grades are like, the level of involvement by his parents, or how much he has been coached.  From my two hours of observation, I would tell him to warm-up properly, that eating right would improve his mental focus and to read about proper positioning for the situations in the field.  I think he has leadership qualities for the team with some of the personality traits I observed.  He is athletically gifted which was easy to see. But, desire and hard work are needed to continue. I am going to keep my eye on him.  I did give him my card, he knows I am writing this.

I love evaluating players and I have learned what to look for. I have talked to a lot of scouts as I have mentioned in previous posts. A player can have jaw dropping ability with eye popping stats, but if one can’t preform under pressure, the player will be like the majority moving through the ranks.  It is up to him and the passion he has for the game. I believe he has a couple things going for him, 1 – Athletic ability. 2 – He realizes it is a game and he is having fun playing it.

I hope you enjoyed this profile, it is the first time I blogged about this hobby of mine when I am out on the road.  I will continue to do it if people like it!  Let me know!  If you enjoy this story and you would like to help me complete the “Baseball in America Tour 2014”, which is roughly 265 days, please click on the following link to see how you can help at www.baseballbuddha.com. Follow me on Twitter and like my Facebook page! Please share this on your Facebook page and Twitter. I appreciate all the help I can get!

 

Day 115 “Feeling Important!”

Alexandria Blue Anchor's home!
Alexandria Blue Anchor’s home!

As I was being interviewed by Blaze Fugina of the Echo Press at the Alexandria Blue Anchors game, G.G. Freitag brought Dick Radatz, President and Glen Showalter, VP of Operations for the Northwoods League over to meet me. They were in town to observe the Alexandria operation.  All I could think about was that G.G. knew Public Relations. She invited me to feel important, I was loving it. Other teams have given me “Rock Star” treatment but this lady understood people, she got people excited, she connected people.  For whatever reason, she intuitively knew what I “brought to the table”.  I do have a wealth of knowledge about the fan experience just by being at so many venues and talking to all the people I have.  I appreciated her excitement she had for me. Funny thing is she doesn’t know much about baseball but she knew that baseball is important to the community and wants to ensure that it continues to be.

I was impressed with the community before I even got to the game that night.  Downtown Alexandria wasn’t boarded up but seemed to be thriving. The merchants adjusted and figured out what to do when Walmart and Target came into town. The town has great antique and collectible shops. I wandered around these as I was passing the time before the game. I spoke to an owner of one these shops, her name was Brooke. I feel bad but I don’t remember her shop name.  She was very friendly, outgoing and took an interest in what I was doing. She even looked up my website while I was there. When I was leaving her shop Blaze called from the paper and asked if he could interview me.  Brooke’s smile and Blaze’s demeanor invigorated me.

When I arrived at the game, I was standing in line talking to a gentleman when a lady with a big smile on her face approached. I looked behind me to see if she was smiling at someone. She wasn’t, it was directed at me.  Then assumed it was this man’s wife.  “Brooke told me you be coming”, G.G. said. I was floored!  “Really” is all I could say, wow two women that want their community to flourish, no wonder the downtown is doing well.   “What can I do for you?”  she said and I was again struggling to respond.  I was so impressed that people were interested and wanted to help me, they wanted my experience in Alexandra to be a good one. The whole place gave me a great vibe.

I talked with Dick and Glen for a little bit. I gave them my card, told them that if they want to “pick my brain” when I am done with this trip I would love to talk to them. I don’t know if they will; but, I was feeling confident. After finishing up my interview with Blaze, G.G. was back. She wanted me to meet a couple of the owners of the Blue Anchors, along with some of the people that work at the radio station.  All I could think was that I wasn’t really that important, but this lady felt that I was, I went with it. I am “more of a novelty” is what I told her. She told me not to say that. I laughed to myself.  She didn’t understand that I am living a dream life at the moment, having a great time on the road watching baseball everyday and blogging about this experience.  I understand fully that I have gained knowledge that very few people have, very useful knowledge.

"Top Brass" of the Northwoods League!
“Top Brass” of the Northwoods League!

I talked with two of the owners of the team and we discussed some ideas, simple things that will work only if you are committed to them for a few years.  I was impressed with these guys. They want to keep Northwoods baseball in Alexandria and they also understand it will never be a money maker, but is great for the community. They seem committed; however, they are finding out that it is a lot of work.  I believe Alexandria has a gem of a stadium and can keep the charm of the ball park while doing some small things to improve the overall fan experience.  I stressed to G.G., the owners and whoever would listen that getting a state of the art facility isn’t always the answer. It might work for a few years but eventually it comes down to creativity and the community.

G.G. introduced me to all the people from the local radio station that were at the game. I was invited to come by the station in the morning to do a show called “Open Line” from 9-10.  I was feeling very good when I left the game. I got to the Walmart parking lot, set up my car and checked my email. Roger got me a one day Media Credential for the College World Series.  I was floored and four of the eight teams left I have covered this year. I am excited to see them play.  I sent Adam Winkler in Austin a text, and Larry, my high school classmate who covers a lot of these events. I wanted to find out what is appropriate. They responded quickly and gave me a few tips.  I was so excited that it was hard for me to sleep.  I called my brother, Chad, and we were laughing hard at all that was happening and how important I was feeling. But – there I was in a Walmart parking lot!

I got to the radio station in the morning was greeted by Joe, who I met the night before. He asked if I stayed in my car, I told him I did and he was intrigued. It really is not as bad as it sounds.  Michael Right came out and invited me into the booth for a quick 5 minute summary of what I was doing. This was the first time I was on live radio.  After that, Dennis Anhalt came out and asked me to record a segment on a show for Saturday or Sunday.  I was on the “Open Line” show from 9:30 until 10. Also, The Governor of Minnesota was on with me. That was fun and interesting.  Patty Wicken, one of the show’s hosts, gave me an extensive tour of Alexandria. I was impressed at what I saw. She wanted to make sure that I saw the real “Ole”.  Brooke, G.G., and Patty impressed me. The three of them truly understand their town and what is needed.

As I was heading out of town after receiving such a warm welcome from the type of town that I was hoping to see all across America, my heart was filled with so much gratitude. These people have this great community that appears to be very strong and vibrant. They seem to understand that everyone needs to take an interest for it to continue to flourish.  It is a community that understands what “community” means, it is Americana.  I will be back!

Max Bat Tour!
Max Bat Tour!

Dennis Anhalt, the radio host, wanted to make sure that I went to see Paul Johnson in Brooten, Minnesota at Max Bats after I was done in Alexandria. He told me I would be impressed.  I heard this last night also from the owners of the Blue Anchors after I was telling them that they should teach these players how to hold the bat correctly.  I did go to see Paul and had a great discussion about this topic.  He treated me like a V.I.P.  He continued my education on wooden baseball bats and all the politics that go into producing them at the Major League level.   I was impressed at his operation and his humility. I will definitely be promoting his products to everyone I see.  After I left and arrived in Zimmerman, Minnesota, I checked my email. Paul made a donation to me for this journey. I continue to be humbled by everyone’s generosity, I will spend it wisely!

If you enjoy this story and you would like to help me complete the “Baseball in America Tour 2014”, which is roughly 265 days, please click on the following link to see how you can help at www.baseballbuddha.com. Follow me on Twitter and like my Facebook page! Please share this on your Facebook page and Twitter. I appreciate all the help I can get!

Day 114 “Lights, Camera, Action”

Alec and Ashley
Alec and Ashley

Sunday I attended three American Legion games in Mandan, North Dakota, near Bismarck.  As I was sitting watching the games, two attractive young women showed up and started filming the baseball games. I was talking with McKenzie Kiefer, a recent high school graduate, who was giving me the low down on the Bismarck Governors baseball team. Her boyfriend was playing shortstop (he impressed me when he came in and threw one pitch to get an out to kill a rally to end the game).  Kenzie explained that both reporters were new. I asked why would they be filming American Legion baseball? She told me, “Not much else going on and Legion ball is big around here”.

“I used to joke with my family about my first job being in North Dakota”, Marisa DeCandido told me. She is from Philadelphia and attended Syracuse University.  Currently, she is the weekend Sports Anchor for the NBC affiliate KFYR channel 5. She has only been working the sports feature for a couple weeks. Initially she started her career as the Dickenson reporter which is an hour away; but, jumped at the chance to take over the weekend sports gig when Alec Ausmus took a job in Duluth.

Ashley St. Louis, the CBS affiliate, was also at the game. She has only been in town for a couple of weeks moving here from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to chase her dream of being a sportscaster.  Ashley originally went to college for journalism. But, chose a different route in teaching. She was a First grade teacher in Michigan for a year, then returned to college to finish up the journalism degree and doing what she is passionate about. (Fun fact about Ashley, she is a die hard Green Bay Packer fan and has the tattoo to prove it!)

Both women were at the American Legion games shooting their own video for segments that they had to produce before they anchor the sports desk at 5 and 10.  I have to admit that when I put Mandan, North Dakota on my baseball schedule I was worried that I would be driving three hours from Fargo to a town that was going to be “behind the times”.  I asked what they thought of Bismarck and the surrounding area? Both quickly said that they were pleasantly surprised at how nice everything was. Both said that they were nervous initially but have quickly adjusted. I, also, was surprised how nice the area was and very thankful that I had the opportunity to see it for myself.

Ashley stated that, “Everyone’s dream is to probably to work for Fox Sports”.  However, they both acknowledged you have to start somewhere.  Just like in baseball the different metropolitan markets represent the “reporter league” you are in.  That is by no means to discredit Bismarck, this is the type of town where you get to learn your craft. It is a town where everything gets covered and high school athletes can attain near celebratory status.

Marisa had to leave after the Bismarck game to get to the studio to produce her sports segment for the 5 p.m. news. Alec Ausmus came to video the Mandan game for her and his last assignment before he left for the bigger Duluth, Minnesota market.  Alec talked to Ashley like the season veteran he was after spending the last year honing his skill. He is all of 24 years old, at the most, but he had a great presence and projected a confidence that comes with experience.  Ashley anchored for the first time the night before, she said she was very nervous but calmed down when everything started flowing. Alec told me that he still gets nervous everyday and doesn’t think that will ever change.

Marisa and Ashley explained that it is very hard to get a sports job in TV. So you need to jump at what is out there.  Both are very grateful that they have the opportunity and realize how lucky they are. They know it is going to take a lot of time and energy. Even though, they feel up to the challenge especially since they are both passionate about the profession.  I found it odd that they compete but are very cordial and give each other tips on how things work. They told me that there is a friendliness since they are at the same events and understand the pressures each is under.  Alec confirmed all of this and I have to say I have seen this in the bigger markets.

After they left, I went back to Kenzie. She told me that she would be going to Jamestown University in the fall to play basketball and volleyball. Her boyfriend, Jake Brucker, was going to play on the university’s baseball team. I was very impressed with her presence and wondered if it had to do with being on the news on occasion. She had a confidence that I don’t see in a lot of high school athletes, as did her boyfriend.   Living and working in a small market has its advantages for all involved, especially when you move on to the bigger and brighter lights.

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