About the Editor
Lifetime passion began as an early-childhood seed and has turned into a forest of passion
By Daniel Stickradt, Senior Editor
It seems like only yesterday when my dad would pick my brother and I up and drive us to either a local high school or Oakland University on a Friday and Saturday night to catch a basketball game or prep football game. That was more than 30 years ago — and this ritual took place for several years.
We had a chance to see many great games and athletes of the day, including watching Clarkston’s Tim McCormick suit up and lead the Wolves to Final Four in 1980. We had a chance to see many different schools play back in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Rochester, Rochester Adams, Troy Athens, Lake Orion, Clarkston — you name it. I sat in the bleachers at all of those schools and many more for a wide variety of athletics contests.
Sometimes you just never know when a seed will be planted and how it may begin to grow years later.
During some of those games in the late 1970s, I personally spent more time crawling underneath old rickety bleachers and playing with other youngsters than watching the games. But as I grew older, that began to change. By the time I was in middle school, going to basketball, football , soccer games, and even track meets became almost a passion, not just time well-spent with my father. It was something that I eagerly looked forward to do several days a week. Sometimes watching games became even more exciting than playing in them.
When I entered Rochester High School in the fall of 1987, I realized that I was just an average soccer player, baseball player and track and field athlete. But being involved in the local sports scene was something slowly building. The seed had long been planted and now was receiving plenty of water.
Back in the high school days of the late 1980s, I used to draw up brackets for state tournaments on large cardboard cutouts to follow local schools through March Madness. A high school sports junkie? I know, I know! This later transpired into working athletics contests for the Rochester Community Schools, such as a stats-keeper, soccer announcer and event worker for cross-country and track meets, among other duties, in the early 1990s.
As for journalism, I finally got my start back in early 1993 at the old Rochester Clarion Weekly, covering six high schools and occasionally two colleges. A brief internship with the Clarion and some free-lance work with the Detroit News during the 1990s eventually turned into a 12-year stint as one of the regional sports editors for the Observer & Eccentric Newspapers. Many of these years were also spent moonlighting as a student at Oakland University.
There was not a greater place to be than covering sports in Oakland County. Is there a better epicenter of great local sports entertainment than right here in the northern suburbs?
The steady climb took a major detour back in April of this year when Gannett, which purchased the O&E and several other Midwestern newspaper chains from newspaper icon Philip Power just a few short years ago, opted to close even more of its community newspaper chains while consolidating others. What was the result? Many talented journalists all over the country have hit the unemployment lines. It has also left a gaping void in community sports journalism that many local sports fans have hope to fill for months.
This is the start of filling that request. Like an athlete being sidelined for an extended period of time before returning to the playing surface, I am glad to be back in the game and ready to serve hundreds of teams and thousands of readers in the communities of Auburn Hills, Clarkston, Lake Orion, Oxford, Rochester, Troy, surrounding townships … and beyond.
The days of crawling under the bleachers are long in the past. Now it is a return to the sidelines or to the press box, delivering local sports news to a computer screen near you. No more 2-page sports sections and confused readers. There is unlimited space and unlimited possibilities.
Like many media operations, this website will run entirely on digital ad sales. But with readership and advertising prospects reaching far beyond this corner of the world, again there are no boundaries —only potential.
High school, local college, club, rec, minor league, semi-pro, and youth teams will be part of the sampling of coverage, along with road races, golf tournaments, all-area teams, sports bars reviews, sports facility and arena reviews, sports medicine and much more will be part of the wide array of sports coverage. There is almost too much to cover and never a dull moment.
There is some special thanks going out to the formation of www.NorthOaklandSports.com, including the Dream Team duo of Kevin VanDette and Rob VanDette, otherwise known as Affordable Website Specialists, who have spent thankless hours going through thousands of lines of code to design this site. This, along with plenty of prayer and ample support and encouragement from family, friends and a hungry, sports-minded audience of coaches, administrators, athletes, parents, and countless others around your community, has driven the charge behind this concept.
Additional thanks goes out to a former colleague of mine, Ed Wright, founder and editor of www.plymouthcantonsports.com, another new independent, niche sports web site that is exploding in popularity and potential in the western suburbs of Detroit. A high-quality read in the new arena of digital sports coverage, for sure.
In the future, we would like to expand with such items as photo galleries, message boards and additional links to serve the sports-crazed communities in this part of Metro Detroit. Who knows? Maybe one day we will be able to expand into even more communities in Oakland County.
Who would have thought that hours spent underneath those bleachers would lead to this? The seed was planted many years ago and has grown into a forest of passion for local sports. Now the idea, the leg work, the hour, and the web site has finally arrived. Catch the fever. I know I did many years ago.
Game time is here. Grab your seat and popcorn — and enjoy.
(Daniel Stickradt is founder and senior editor of http://northoaklandsports.com and Stickradt Media)