Appreciate the little things

Published 6:23 pm Thursday, April 30, 2009

By Staff
Commentary by KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
Every now and then, something will happen that makes me realize what’s truly important.
I’m usually a pretty happy-go-lucky guy. Not a whole lot gets me down.
I tend to roll with the punches, and have been blissfully ignorant in the past.
When the economy started to take a nosedive, I thought newspapers would be okay. I thought the WDN would be just fine.
Like I said, I was blissfully ignorant.
We’ve been hit hard, like just about every newspaper out there. As most of you know, the powers-that-be are doing their best to keep us afloat.
For cost-cutting measures, we’ve stopped printing a Monday edition. The Saturday paper is now condensed. Black-and-white sports fronts have become the norm during some weekdays.
The biggest blows were layoffs and budget cuts. As several of you have asked, yes, sports writers Steve Franklin and Brian Haines were laid off.
It was tough to see two of my friends lose their jobs. They had experience, liked the area and enjoyed doing what they did. (Luckily, I can look in the trash can and see notes left behind by the guys. Apparently the cleaning crew has been laid off as well.)
Greg Katski, who had been a reporter at the WDN, was transferred from the newsroom to sports. He’s anxious, hungry and learning on the fly.
We’re far from being the only newspaper that is dealing with these difficult times. A handful of newspapers have folded.
Layoffs and budget cuts are running rampant in the industry.
That includes one of the top newspapers around, The Charlotte Observer.
But that newspaper is dealing with so much more right now.
Tom Sorenson, a talented sports columnist and one of my favorite writers, recently wrote that he had been diagnosed with cancer. I’m sure that hit the newsroom like a ton of bricks.
Then, Tuesday, another bombshell hit. David Poole, who covered the NASCAR scene for the Observer, died of a heart attack at the age of 50. Whenever I wanted to read a story on NASCAR or find out what was happening in the sport, I immediately went to Poole’s columns and stories.
I can’t even begin to imagine how the staff is dealing with these latest blows.
Morale can’t exactly be high at newspapers right now, but we’re plugging along and doing the best we can.
When I read about Sorenson’s condition and the untimely death of Poole, it made me step back and take a look around.
I’ve always appreciated and admired student-athletes, and the coaches who put in countless hours for little pay and less thanks. Like sports writers, coaches certainly don’t do the job for the wonderful hours or great pay.
Covering games and watching some exceptional talent on the field, court or track has always been a joy.
To me, there’s not a whole lot better than watching Trent Whitehead make a circus catch in the outfield for the East Carolina Pirates. Or seeing ECU defensive lineman C.J. Wilson shove a lineman aside and take down the quarterback.
Or watching a Charity Watson fastball. Or seeing Austin Thompson crush a baseball. Or watching Jordan Cantrell drive to the basket with a nobody-is-going-to-stop-me attitude.
Or seeing Dakuan Spencer make an unbelievable catch on the football field.
Or watching Haley Hiatt race around the track during a 400-meter run — that same kid who was fighting cancer just a few months ago.
Sometimes bad things happen.
Sometimes that’s what it takes to make you appreciate the little things all the more.
Kevin Travis is the Sports Editor of the Washington Daily News. You may reach him at 940-4217, or by e-mail at