ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Johnson: Some tough, bittersweet news

Coming out of secluded Central Washington University journalism school in December of 2017, not many newspapers around the country gave me a chance at full-time sports writing.

Jamestown Sun sports writer Mitchell Johnson posts live updates to Twitter during the North Star Athletic Association softball tournament on May 7, 2018, in Aberdeen, S.D. John M. Steiner / The Sun
Jamestown Sun sports writer Mitchell Johnson posts live updates to Twitter during the North Star Athletic Association softball tournament on May 7, 2018, in Aberdeen, S.D. John M. Steiner / The Sun
We are part of The Trust Project.

Coming out of secluded Central Washington University journalism school in December of 2017, not many newspapers around the country gave me a chance at full-time sports writing.

The only newspaper that gave me an interview, let alone a full-time job with great pay and benefits, was The Jamestown Sun. I was offered the job while I still had a month left of college, while some graduates struggle to find anything months after graduation.

That's why on April 30, it was even tougher to look Jamestown Sun sports editor, Michael Savaloja, in the eye and tell him the bad news that I was dreading to tell him for days.

Some already know, but for those who don't, today (May 22) will be my last day reporting on Jamestown High School, University of Jamestown, Class B and numerous other sports for The Sun. I'm moving closer to home in the Seattle area and will be learning the ropes of my parents' hardware store, Johnsons Home & Garden in Maple Valley, Wash.

Even though I'm not an 18-year veteran like former Sun sports editor Dave Selvig or well-known former JHS beat writer Chris Aarhus, the feeling is beyond bittersweet.

ADVERTISEMENT

It's been difficult to tell many of the coaches, players, parents and fans that I've worked with so closely over the last 1 1/2 years that I will not be staying in Jamestown much longer.

But there have been plenty of great moments covering sports in Jamestown.

The first one, obviously, is Blue Jay boys basketball going undefeated and winning its first state championship since 1993 with a 66-49 victory over Fargo Davies on March 9 at the Bismarck Event Center. And, yes, that score is still ingrained in my memory bank.

Some highlights from the season included: Jamestown winning its first-ever West Region championship over Mandan on March 2, the Blue Jays being ranked No. 1 and staying there on Jan. 16, and numerous individual milestones.

That extremely cold winter season was a grind, to be honest, but the entertaining basketball, along with a nice anonymous card someone made me, made it all worth it.

I've seen many equally impressive individual performances, like Meghan Ford winning every cross-country race she entered en route to the Class A state title, Ethan Bowman overcoming injury to win the Class A 120-pound state championship in 2018 and Paul Vandal winning the 220-pound state title this year.

Plus, Jeff Romsdahl let me live out my dream of covering outdoor high school and college hockey with Hockey Day North Dakota on Jan. 18-20. How cool was that?

Now comes the portion of the column where I thank everybody.

ADVERTISEMENT

Like previously mentioned, thanks to Sav for giving me a chance to let me live out my dream of being a full-time sports writer. It's been a pleasure sitting next to you at The Sun for the last 17 months.

I don't think I could thank photographer John Steiner enough, as well, as he's taken photos at nearly every sporting event I covered, which helps immensely. Plus, he's a great person to ride with on trips to Aberdeen or Carrington for a story.

Also a big thank you to business manager Kathy Hilgemann and publisher Rob Keller, who helped hire me and allowed me to travel to sporting events in Bismarck, Fargo and Grand Forks to provide even better coverage of the Jays.

Also a big shout out to everyone else in the newsroom like Kathy Steiner, Keith Norman, Tom LaVenture and former Sun reporter Chris Olson, who couldn't have been more helpful and friendly to me.

The Jamestown Sun is going through some changes at the moment, but I know the hard-working employees here have some big things planned for the future.

Related Topics: JAYSJAMESTOWN JIMMIES
What To Read Next
The Tuesday, Jan. 31, game between Sioux Falls Lincoln and Watertown was forced to move after junior JT Rock broke the rim with a powerful two-handed dunk. Rock is committed to play at Iowa State.
Area high school scores from Jan. 31.
The Blue Jay boys basketball team faced Bismarck High on Jan. 31.
The Blue Jay girls basketball team faced Bismarck High on Jan. 31.