Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Reminiscing already

Earlier tonight I did something I never thought I would – I paid to watch high school girls soccer. It was a sectional semifinal doubleheader featuring four of the five schools I covered over the past six seasons.

I feel a bond with the coaches and many of the players, and I want to see how the season plays out. As my time away from the Sun grows, I’m sure I will lose that connection. But for now my curiosity was enough I drove to Bolingbrook, about 30 minutes from my house.

I always enjoyed covering girls sports because female athletes tend to be more open and honest than their male counterparts when it comes to interviews. Female athletes just seem to be more real. They don’t normally try to hide behind some tough exterior. They show more of their personalities and their emotions.

One of my favorites is Rachel Bostick, a senior at Waubonsie Valley, for just that reason. [I know I’m not supposed to say I had favorites, but screw it, I don’t work for the newspaper anymore.]

I first interviewed Rachel – that's her in the photo above wearing No. 20 – when she was a freshman, just after she scored both goals in a 2-0 win over Providence Catholic. I don’t remember the exact conversation, but I do remember it was like pulling teeth to get her to answer my questions.

I looked up the story tonight just to find out if I actually quoted her in the story. Sure enough, I did.

“It doesn’t matter who scores, it just matters that we finish,” Bostick said that afternoon. “I think teams have noticed that (Kylee Rodriguez) is scoring so they are marking up on her. That made it easier for us to score.”

Not a bad start, and better than I remembered. In the ensuing years Rachel turned into a quality source, my version of a go-to player.

She also played basketball for Waubonsie, so I talked with her quite a bit since our first conversation on a soccer field in Lemont. Enough that I’ve also gotten to know her dad, Dave, who took me aside before a basketball game last winter.

He told me how much the players enjoy seeing their names in the paper, and how much the work I did meant to them. It made me feel good, even though I hate to think of my work being reduced to just getting kids’ names in the paper.

Rachel often had her name in the paper. And she usually had something unique to say for a story, especially if she was talking about one of her teammates. Rachel was perfect for features on other players. Like when I wrote about two standout Waubonsie freshmen basketball players for a playoff preview.

“I don't think they ever were freshmen,” Rachel said of Keiera Ray and Tami Morice. “They talk about being nervous before games, but it doesn’t show on the court, ever.”

I’ll probably never interview Rachel again. It’s possible I won’t interview any high school athletes again. Soon I won’t know any of the players on the teams I used to cover.

I'm sure there will be times I'll miss that. Tonight was one of those times.

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