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Local sports: Awards help during tough week

My cellphone got a lot more use this week than normal. 

The call parade started Sunday afternoon, when my colleague Brian Weidman called to deliver the unfortunate news of Bruce Scheidegger’s death.

Scheidegger, a former girls basketball coach and athletic director at Sterling, had died from injuries suffered in a single-car accident north of Mount Carroll.

I spent the rest of the afternoon making phone calls – and getting them – from various folks here at SVM. 

Another call on Sunday was from former SVM sports editor Paul Skrbina, who now is the prep sports editor for the Chicago Tribune. Paul was in Florida, serving as a judge for the Associated Press Sports Editors contest.

The call Sunday night was to confirm Scheidegger’s death. See, Paul is a true news guy, a bit of watchdog, making sure that we’re still doing our jobs right here at SVM.

It’s comforting to know that Paul and fellow former sports editor Will Larkin still take an interest in what we are doing here. I certainly use both as sounding boards for ideas when we get the opportunity to talk.

That call wouldn’t be the last from Paul this week. 

He called back on Tuesday with markedly better news. Paul was standing before a wall of results from the aforementioned APSE contest. Sauk Valley Media’s name was on a few of those lists.

Our department received top 10 honors in both the daily section and special section categories for papers with circulations under 30,000. 

The daily category is determined by us sending four sections from the year. Two of the sections are random dates determined by the APSE, and the other two can be any other regular days of my choosing.

The special section was for our preseason football section. We have received recognition in this category every year since 2007. 

The icing on the good-news cake was Christopher Heimerman’s top 10 recognition in the project reporting category. Many of you remember his summer series on concussions entitled “The Hidden Injury.” Well, now it’s a nationally honored series, and I have a feeling that won’t be the last honor Christopher will garner for his work.

The awards were uplifting for me and the department during a week that had been filled with sad news. They also helped lifts spirits here at a desk where we tend to hear more complaints than compliments.

For me personally, it was appropriate to get the APSE news from Paul. If not for Paul, I’d certainly not be in the sports editor’s chair here at SVM, and there’s a good chance I wouldn’t be at SVM at all.

When he arrived sometime in early 2006, I was working about 10 hours a week. By the time he left in 2008, I was a full-time reporter.

He told me once that he thought I’d be sitting in this chair one day, overseeing a department competing for APSE awards. I didn’t really believe him, and I don’t think either of us thought it would happen this soon.

But that’s the nature of this business. Things happen fast, and they don’t always happen according to plans. 

It was Paul who once told me you should never get comfortable in this job, because we can all be replaced. 

He’s right. I am proud of the work our staff has done since I took over in November of 2011, but I know that we can’t be content with ourselves.

We’ll continue to evolve, take on new challenges, and try to bring you the best sports coverage possible.

2012 APSE Top 10 honors

• Dialy Sections under 30,000

• Special Sections under 30,000 - Football preview section “Glory of the Game”

• Projecet reporting under 30,000 - “The Hidden Injury” by Christopher Heimerman

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