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“The People behind the Papers” is a Q&A series featuring the employees of 22nd Century Media who play an integral role in producing 15 community newspapers. The project is designed to give readers an inside look at the personalities that drive the journalism you have read weekly in print and daily on our websites. To support the work we do, please consider subscribing at www.SubscribeMessenger.com or through any of our other 14 newspapers.
What do you do at 22nd Century Media?
Sports editor of The Wilmette Beacon, Winnetka Current and Glencoe Anchor. I'm the one you'll usually see covering games and taking photos at Loyola, New Trier, North Shore Country Day and Regina games. I'll also write many of those fun feature stories you'll see.
What does your job at 22nd Century Media mean to you?
The job at 22CM does mean a lot to me. I first started freelancing for the company in March 2016, after the company I was previously working for laid off a third of the company, myself included. That summer, 22CM decided to bring on its first-ever sports editors and decided to bring me on as one of the original sports editors in the company. Managing Editor Eric DeGrechie, Assistant Managing Editor Megan Bernard and Publisher Joe Coughlin essentially saved me from the unemployment line for a long time, and here we are three-and-a-half years later.
What is the most memorable story you've written during your time here?
There have been a ton of these, including one that won Best Sports Story for 2016, but my most memorable one is about a former local hockey coach Rafe Aybar. He was the guy to go to if you were a young hockey player and wanted to get better. Then,he was diagnosed with cancer, and it cut down his time available to coach players. I was able to talk to him and hear his story in his own words. That was really the first time I'd ever gotten emotional during an interview. Unfortunately, Rafe died a couple months after the story ran, but it's one I'll always remember. There were two parts to the story: Part 1 and Part 2.
What have you learned about the community you cover that you otherwise might not have known?
Having gone to school up here, I knew a good amount about the community, but I really learned how much everyone just cares about what's written. People complimenting others is really great to see.
What do you like to do for fun when you're not working?
The schedule may be sporadic, but I do like to see Broadway shows when I can, hang out with friends, and try to spend time with my little niece and nephew.
What's one thing even your co-workers probably don't know about you?
When I was 17, I went on a ski camp trip with a bunch of friends, who were all 15-16 at the time. Our plane was diverted because of a blizzard, and they left us in Portland, Maine, telling us to find our own way to New York. This was also Christmas Day. So Christmas Day, blizzard, stuck in Portland, Maine. We were there for three days and somehow I was able to rent out hotel rooms despite the fact I wasn't 18. We missed four of the seven days of the camp, but now we can always say we took a plane to Maine.
What is your perfect work lunch situation?
The local food is so good, but I'll take tacos at any of the local taco shops for sure.
How are you riding out this COVID-19 pandemic?
Netflix watching, FaceTime with the niece and nephew, and trying to look forward to when we can do things normally again.