For the first time in my tenure as high school sports editor, I convinced my editors to produce a special section for the fall season preview. There’s a lot of things that go into that sort of decision, so I’m here to express humble gratitude to everyone involved.
Because the real winners are the student-athletes.
It’s all the same work we’ve done each year – features on teams and athletes we think are interesting at the beginning of the season, along with stellar photography from our award-winning photo department and some talented freelancers, plus preview capsules for just about every team in every sport in the Greater Spokane League and others across Eastern Washington.
The difference is in the organization and presentation.
In year’s past, the football previews were part of the paper’s big preseason football section along with the area colleges and the Seahawks. The other sports were sprinkled in gradually once the season started. I would often hear from folks they didn’t know when or where to look for things.
This year, all the high school sports previews are in one pull-out section, so fans of prep sports in the area can find all of our preview material in one place. We think that’s a better way to share this information and make it a little more special for those that want to keep the clippings for scrapbooks.
We wish we could preview every school in every sport in our traditional circulation range – that’s 55 schools in Eastern Washington and another 21 in North Idaho. The harsh reality is we unfortunately have neither the space nor resources.
But we’re still taking everyone’s box scores and publishing recaps for every event in the area that gets reported to us, and we’ll report on interesting stories regardless of the school’s classification.
With that in mind, to go along with the special section there are other new features we’re bringing to high school sports this year. If you follow us on social media, you may have noticed some changes there.
Last year we updated our website (spokesman.com/high-school-sports/) and this year we rebranded on Twitter and Facebook, changing over from NW Preps Now to SR Preps. The changes were overdue to bring a more modern look and reduce redundancy between a couple of websites.
All of the scores and stats from all of the region’s teams are located in one place, and we will publish a daily roundup of all that action – from 4A to 1B.
Our web team worked relentlessly on this over the past two years and we’re excited that all the changes and updates are finished, and everything seems to be working properly.
Back to the season previews.
I handled the football features and had a chance to visit with Mead coach Keith Stamps and quarterback Colby Danielson. The Panthers made significant improvement as the season progressed last year in Stamps’ first season at Mead, and with a full off-season he thinks they are primed for a successful year.
Danielson has a big arm and lots of speed on the outside to work with this season.
I also went to practice at East Valley, where I caught up with coach Tom Griggs and his QB, Diezel Wilkinson. Wilkinson started as a wideout, but with his elite athleticism, Griggs wants to have the ball in Wilkinson’s hands as much as possible.
The excitement about Wilkinson is tangible at EV – after making the postseason last year, the program is fielding a JV team this season for the first time in Griggs’ tenure.
Slowpitch softball also gets underway, and the GSL is no longer the only league playing the fall sport – it’s growing across the state. Last year, University won the 3A/2A title and hopes to repeat.
But I couldn’t do everything with the previews. Far from it – I got a lot of help.
Madison McCord handled our volleyball feature and will report on the sport through the fall, Keenan Gray is our running correspondent and filed two stories on cross country. Justin Reed is our resident “soccer guy” and previewed the Rogers girls program making strides in competition.
The section was laid out by our fearless leader, Ralph Walter, with assistance by Conner Vanderweyst, while Taylor Newquist made sure everything looks good and is in the right place online.
One last thing: We can’t do any of this without the help of administrators, coaches and parents at the schools we cover.
Please send us your scores, stats and story ideas. We strive to provide the most complete coverage possible of your student-athletes, but we need all the help we can get.
We hope you enjoy the special section, and thanks for reading.