By Brad Salmen
I’d like to introduce myself to you Herald Journal sports readers by playing a game of, “Two Truths and a Lie.” Try to guess which is which.
1. I’m the new Aaron Schultz.
2. I once played goalie for the NCAA Division I Michigan Tech Huskies hockey team.
3. I was once sent reeling by a hit from Gordie Howe.
Give up? Eh, I apologize for misleading you, all three are true. Sort of.
1. It’s true, I am replacing Aaron as the sports editor at the Herald Journal. But in reality, it’s disingenuous to compare myself to him. For one, he’s been working at HJ for 13 years and lived here most of his life, and the insight and experience he has regarding the local sports community simply cannot be replaced. While I am “local” – I grew up in, and now again live in the Dassel-Cokato area – I will never match the presence Aaron brought to this paper.
Each person who does a job like this does things a little differently. I have some different ideas that I’ll be implementing moving forward. But I do hope I can be the new Aaron in one regard – continuing his fine and comprehensive coverage of our local teams. He’s been an incredible help in training me and imparting his vast knowledge of the local sports scene. Thanks, Aaron.
2. I did, in fact, don the goalie gear and take the ice with the Michigan Tech Huskies hockey team – for one practice.
I was living in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula at the time, working as a sportswriter for the Houghton Daily Mining Gazette. This was back in 2005, and if you know anything about college hockey, right in the middle of MTU’s woeful stretch of ineptitude (they’ve finally turned the program around in recent years). To put it mildly, finding something positive or interesting to write about took some ingenuity most weeks.
So, I was surprised and pleased when coach Jamie Russell finally gave in to my pestering to let me suit up in net and write a column about it. Imagine, if you will, a slightly overweight, out-of-shape sportswriter struggling to put on goalie pads, then waddling around in those pads trying to stop slapshots from elite hockey players. Yes, it was as funny-looking as you’re imagining it. Nevertheless, it was an experience I’ll never forget, and it resulted in one of the best columns I’ve ever written.
Where I’m going with this is, I’ve always tried my best to capture the essence of the moment, whether it’s a simple game story or a piece of gonzo journalism. Also, if any local coaches need to boost their players’ confidence by having a still-slightly-overweight, out-of-shape sportswriter stand around putting up token resistance to their shots, I’m game . . . just keep in mind it didn’t work for Michigan Tech.
3. This one is true only if you correctly define the word, “hit.” As in, “hit” equals any sort of contact whatsoever. It happened like this: I was covering an event at MTU where Gordie Howe came to promote his book, and as I was walking up to him to conduct an interview, he turned at the last second right into me. Being as a. he was an elderly man, and b. I didn’t want to be the guy known for injuring the legendary Mr. Hockey, I awkwardly danced aside as his hip brushed me. I will forever argue this counts as being hip-checked by Gordie Howe.
Where am I going with this? Nowhere, I just wanted to brag about meeting Gordie Howe.
What else can I tell you? Well, like I said, I grew up a D-C Charger, and even wrote for the Enterprise Dispatch as a senior in high school. After graduating from Macalester College (go Scots!), my wife, five children and I spent seven years in the U.P. (go snow!) before moving back to Cokato three years ago (go home!). I love sports – I played three sports in high school, played some college baseball, and played 12 years of townball, including for the D-C Saints. And though I’ve long since crested that hill, I still hack it up once a week playing basketball and hockey.
I also love sportswriting. I’ve been out of the writing game for several years now, working in other fields, and I’m thrilled to be back doing something I love. Like I mentioned, I have a lot of ground to cover and a lot to catch up on, but I pledge you this: I will do my best to provide coverage that is moment-capturing, informative, and occasionally, irreverent. I understand how important a community newspaper is to the people it covers, and I hope to continue the tradition established by Aaron.
So, if you see a guy at one of the local games, struggling to capture the moment with a camera way too advanced for him (sadly, they’re almost all too advanced for him), yes, that is not Aaron Schultz. But feel free to give him a smile or introduce yourself anyway – he’s new here, and looking forward to writing for you.