When asked what my favorite sport is, often my response is college basketball. That’s mostly out of sportswriter habit. It’s the genre I cover most often, the game I know most intimately and the place where, as a journalist, I’m most comfortable.
But my first sporting love as a fan was hockey. I don’t know why the sport clicked with me, but it did, probably because it had something to do with another unusual obsession of mine – Canada. Weird? Well, yes. Analyzing it, however, will either get me nowhere or take me to a stranger place than where I started. So we leave it at that.
The other athletic event which mesmerized me was the Olympics. After the 1984 Los Angeles Games I was hooked – on the spirit, the ideals, on the introduction to sports which were outside the mainstream norm.
So you can imagine my excitement when I picked up a book about the 1980 U.S. Olympic Men’s Hockey team. I was in my glory.
But the real excitement came when I flipped to the inside back cover and read the book jacket. There was the short bio of the author of the book, Tim Wendel who, according to the information provided, grew up in Lockport, N.Y.
No freaking way.
I lived in Lockport, N.Y. I loved to write. I loved hockey. I loved the Olympics. This is so cool.
It wasn’t the moment which sparked my dreams to become a writer. Nor was it the impetus for me to decide to pursue sportswriting as a career. It wasn’t a moment of epiphany for me. The inspiration was more like a life guidepost – a backing from the universe that indicated a girl from a small community in western New York State could also be an author and write about sports. It gave me an example of what was possible.
Last night, I had the chance to meet Tim for the first time as we both spoke about sportswriting at a program hosted by our hometown Lockport Public Library.
Just entering the building made me smile. As a wordsmith, there’s something I love about the library and this is the one I grew up in. Every summer, my brother and I participated in the library’s reading program – before the mandated school summer reading programs. (And thank goodness I grew up without mandated summer reading. Otherwise I may never have enjoyed Judy Blume, Trixie Belden or Laura Ingalls Wilder.)
The library has gone through renovations and additions. There are new rooms, bigger spaces with better lighting and multi-media centers. We, however, spoke in one of the old rooms – one of the rooms from my library days. While it looks much bigger without its bulky card catalogue file, the feeling remains the same. It speaks of quiet. It speaks of tradition. It speaks of possibilities.
As Tim and I talked about our life as sports writers and the process of writing and covering sports, I found myself surrounded by some original inspiration. I found myself reminded of those possibilities again.
And from time to time, we all need to dwell in possibilities.