Discovering the Writer in Me

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, during the late 1970s, I made a living of sorts writing for The Ithaca Journal, a small daily newspaper in Upstate New York. It was a Gannett-owned paper, published six days a week, in a time when newspapers were the primary source of news and information in small cities throughout the United States.

The sports editor there was a veteran of 35 years in the newspaper business named Kenny Van Sickle. He hired me the summer between my freshman and sophomore year in college to work the evening sports desk and cover a high school football or basketball games on the weekend.

What he didn’t fully explain to a naïve sports fan who found writing easy was that most of those nights I’d work alone, answering phone call after phone call until 11 pm or later from high school coaches or their appointed student manager or parent “volunteer,” with information about their games. Then, the writing would start. I’d  pound out as many as 25 pages of double-spaced text, all heavily formatted with special symbols to talk to the “computer typesetting machine.” before I could go home, sleep a couple of hours, then wake for class the next day.

He never tried to explain to me that I would come to know the phone number of many, many bars and other haunts where these people, even some of the students,  could be found when they didn’t make the phone call I was expecting and needed to be tracked down for the information I sought.

I doubt he could have known how much I’d love the work and the writing and everything that went with it.

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Terry Habecker Journal’s Coach of the Year

Terry Habecker Journal’s Coach of the Year

By MIKE WITHIAM

Journal Writer

This article appeared in: Sports, The Ithaca Journal, Saturday, December 23, 1978 – Page 13

Experience has mellowed Terry Habecker. The very successful Ithaca High soccer coach has let time be a teacher, and he has learned his lessons well.

Habecker guided the 1978 Little Red soccer team to a perfect 24-0 season, which it topped off a little more than a month ago by winning the first ever Class A (large schools) state championship. During the past two years, Ithaca has compiled a 46-1 record, and it will open the 1979 campaign with a 31-game winning streak still intact.

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Running threatens to surpass tennis as ‘in’ sport

Running threatens to surpass tennis as ‘in’ sport

This article first appeared in Leisure Magazine, The Ithaca Journal, Saturday, July 1, 1978 – Page 3

By MIKE WITHIAM

Jogging isn’t just jogging anymore.

First of all, it has a new name.  Running is the proper noun; jogging is for the old and fat.

This sport has become the new national, irrational religion, with as many as 20 million Americans running, and more joining the race every day.

Running threatens to surpass tennis as the “in” sport, and a sub-culture has grown up around it that includes jogging outfits, books (two best sellers) and magazines, among other items. And the marathon runner, once thought of as a harmless aberration, is now looked upon with almost God-like admiration.

Runners swear by all that is sweaty that running is the best thing that ever happened to them. They sleep better, eat less, feel fitter and insist that work is less work.

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