Ogden column: Nothing beats a trip in Eastern Iowa

Except meeting with high school journalists

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There are many things that make what we do as sportswriters and editors fun and rewarding.

One of my favorite lines over the years has been "we get paid for doing this" while attending football or basketball games, wrestling or track meets. Most sportswriters also are sports fans, so attending these events can be fun - until that deadline approaches and you have to get that story done. But that can be exhilarating, too, if you thrive under pressure.

Last November, I was asked to take on a new role at The Gazette, that of community sports editor. I have written many times about seeking content from community members, from bird watchers to runners and triathletes.

One of the most rewarding aspects, however, has been working with the high school students around Eastern Iowa. Some are future journalists, some simply students who love to write or take pictures and others are athletes who want to tell their stories.

If you haven't had a chance to read what these students are writing - or the pictures they are taking - go to www.IowaPrepSports.com and simply search for "high school journalism." These stories appear on the home page, down the right side.

You might  be surprised by the amount of content these students are providing. You also may be surprised how talented these students are, writing features about their schools, their teams and their classmates.

Last year I visited nearly 30 schools from Washington (Iowa) to Clayton Ridge (Guttenberg), from Williamsburg to West Liberty. This year, I've already been to eight schools, including newcomers Edgewood-Colesburg, Springville, Starmont and Cedar Valley Christian.

We have received stories and photos from nine different schools, including 13 photos from North Cedar senior Emily Blake.

One of the side benefits of this new assignment is the travel. Now, instead of getting paid to watch games, I get paid to drive to places like Strawberry Point and Manchester - and points in between. These are beautiful communities with great schools.

Of course, there are many more to visit, many more trips to make. I will be in Iowa City next week and have another trek to northeast Iowa planned, with a second visit to Clayton Ridge.

I want to come to your town and your school, too.

Unfortunately, not every school has a newspaper or a journalism class. That's OK. All I need is a few interested students or a creative writing class or a yearbook staff. There are many talented students out there and we'd like to give them the chance to promote their school, their teams and their athletes - and their talent.

That's really what this program is all about - letting our readers, our community, see what is going on in other communities.

If you'd like me to come and visit your school, please contact me at jr.ogden@thegazette.com 

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