Celebrating 15 Years in Sports Journalism

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The 2016-17 school year will mark my 15th season in the high school sports journalism scene.

As I mentioned a couple of Blog entries back, I started doing all of this while I was a sophomore in high school. I worked at a local internet shop called Prep Sports Online, and we had dreams of being big. We started out with Sterling, and eventually expanded to Rock Falls, Dixon and Newman. While I was hired to write – take pictures of, and take video of – Sterling sports, I eventually branched out to the other three schools as well.

In the spring of 2004, that led to a jump to Sauk Valley Newspapers (as it was called at that time). While that stay only lasted a few months, I started a website called Northern Illinois Sports Beat. That website – the writing portion of it, that is – lasted 10 years before planning a small site called NewRocSter Sports.

NewRocSter Sports was aborted when I spent more time dealing with my personal life, but eventually the Sauk Valley Sun came calling. That only lasted a short time, and was rather unpleasant. Then Sauk Valley Media came calling once again. I’ve been there since August of 2014, and will approach 2 years there soon.

While 12.75 years of my experience was spent on the web, I still look at it as continual journalism experience. If it wasn’t for those 10 years spent running NISB, I wouldn’t be where I’m at now with SVM.

Since my sophomore year, I’ve wanted to be in the journalism profession. I’m still there, despite all those years on the web, and 5 abbreviated years of junior college (including a 1-year layover in Freeport).

This year also marks the point where I’ve spent half of my life in the journalism profession, as I am 30 years old.

My experiences have brought me to places such as tiny Scales Mound and Paw Paw, the south side of Chicago, the wealthy suburbs of Chicago, football fields next to corn fields, gyms with four rows of bleachers deep, countless state tournaments, you name it. When I started, football had just gotten used to an eight-class system, and other sports were simply divided into “A” and “AA.” Now we have private school multipliers, waivers and success factors; as well as a multiple-class system arrangement, split state football locations, bass fishing as a sport, and no NCIC to talk about.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have spent time with some – either through talks, or the simple brief interview – of the best coaches, athletes, administrators, and sports fans that northern Illinois has to offer.

The love for doing this has grown into an appreciation of high school sports history as well, which I take a lot of pride in with game notebooks and my weekly “By the Numbers” football piece during the fall.

This is a profession that I would like to continue to be involved with for many years to come. I wasn’t able to do this for years 5 and 10, but to celebrate my 15 years of sports journalism, I would like to share with you my top 15 favorite moments of my journalism career.

I will scatter 15 separate Blog entries over the course of the summer and fall detailing those favorite moments.

Read about …

  • Sit down chit chats before a state title match
  • Mother Nature deciding a state title
  • RF football’s best moment in the past 24 years
  • A small town that filled up half of Redbird Arena
  • A conference football streak barely staying alive
  • Mother Nature handing out two similar trophies
  • The end of over 100 years of title hunting
  • Class A softball’s unforgettable pitcher’s dual
  • A school’s big football win and a supersectional volleyball win hours apart
  • A playoff home field football streak barely staying alive
  • Whether it was a twitch or not
  • The formation of the “next big conference”
  • Stepping up the ladder successfully in football
  • An interview with an NIT champion

I also have one bonus memory to add later, as it is a memory that does not involve high school sports, but rather during my time as a college student.

I will wrap up with a 15-item Honorable Mention collection at the very end of this series.

Finally, to see if hashtags really have a legitimate purpose on social media, I will start to use the following hashtag when referring to entries or teasers to this series: #codycutter15

I have many people to thank for breeding me into this career that I love. I’d name you all, but I’m afraid I’ll leave out important names. So, if you know you are one of them (even at the slightest possibility), Thank You for all you’ve done to guide me along.



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