The editor down at the Argus has been pestering me for several weeks now to write a column for the paper.
Since moving here in July, I guess I haven’t officially been introduced to the good people of Caledonia, and the way that most people have met me has been through athletic events where folks have come up to me and asked “So who are you?”
Well, it’s a long story. I ended up in Caledonia because my wife got a new job here – you see, she’s the pesky editor at the Argus. Emily and I have worked together for quite awhile now, dating back to when she was a summer intern at the Times-Press newspaper in Reedsburg, Wisc. in 2000. I had been hired as the sports editor there in 1999 after spending some time in northern Wisconsin covering games all the way from Grantsburg to Prescott to Elk Mound. Before that I had worked for the daily paper in Portage, Wisc., an audio-visual company in the Twin Cities and a printing company as well.
Through the years Emily moved up the ranks from intern to reporter to editor while I built up the sports section of the Times Press. In the decade the two of us worked together, the only period of time Emily and I remember where one of us wasn’t in the office nearly every day of the week was when we took a vacation together in 2004. Other than that, either she or I have spent part of nearly every day at the Times-Press.
Also in that time we became a couple, got married, had a daughter, bought a house, got a dog, the whole story. We enjoyed a lot of success in our jobs with both of us winning multiple awards from the Wisconsin Newspaper Association. Emily was named the Media Person of the Year in 2007 by the Wisconsin March of Dimes. She has also won first place awards for best front page design, best photo essay and best feature story in Wisconsin.
In my almost 30 years in the business, I’ve won awards of all shapes and sizes for writing and photography, including a pair of first place awards last year for best sports photo and best sports column, plus a third place honor for best spot news photo, one that unfortunately I took just minutes after an airplane crash killed two people.
The photo ran in the Chicago Tribune the next day and, while it was exciting to win the award, it was also sad because there were deaths involved.
As it happens for most people, jobs these days are never a sure thing, and this summer Emily noticed the position at the Argus. She was offered the job, and although it was a difficult decision to pack up and leave our home in Reedsburg, it was the right move for us.
It certainly is different waking up in another town, but Caledonia is 25 minutes from La Crosse. It’s not like we moved to New Zealand. Restaurants, shopping, entertainment, as well as several colleges and two major medical facilities, all are within half an hour by car.
There are some great little eating joints here, and the people have bent over backward to make us feel welcome. Emily has been invited to everything from Rotary to the Chamber of Commerce golf outing, and folks have asked me out to have a beer after football games. I might have to take them up on it soon, but for now I’m working on just learning my way around.
Sitting on our front steps one night this summer, we noticed the beauty of Caledonia. Cornfields behind the swimming pool cover the horizon. By early evening, much like Mayberry, the town rolls up and goes to sleep. Sirens are almost non-existent, and honestly it took me awhile to get used to not hearing them.
It’s been exciting to cover the teams here this fall after basically taking the summer off. The coaches I’ve met so far here have been great and easily accessible for interviews and quotes, and I hope it continues into the winter season.
Emily writes a column weekly for the Argus, and I will try to do one occasionally. I may need some ideas since I’m not quite in the loop yet, though I’m working on it.
So that – in a nutshell – is the low-down on the new guy on the sidelines.
You can contact Brady Ambrose at [email protected]