Editor’s Corner, January 2022

Those who light the way

By Kim Hasty

I don’t know what I was thinking when I signed on to write about sports for my hometown’s afternoon newspaper in 1982.

For one thing, an afternoon paper meant deadlines that came at us with alarming speed sometime around noon. And that meant showing up for work well before many other people had downed their first cup of coffee.

Which is why, I suppose, I showed up with a pillow for my first day of work. I guess I was hoping that I might have a chance to catch a few winks between filing game stories and typing up box scores. To this day, deadlines make me want to take a serious nap.

I didn’t want to work in an office anyway. I wanted to go to the games. I wanted to learn how to tell the stories behind all the legends and the soon-to-be legends. Who cared about zone defenses and defensive secondaries? The parts I loved about sports were the drama and the stories. The part about how Michael Jordan was cut from his high school team, how a young man from a little town helped the Wolfpack break UCLA’s seven-time national championship streak (Seven!), and about the indelible friendship between Brian Piccolo and Gale Sayers. I love the parts that make us laugh and the parts that make us cry.

Howard Ward, The Fayetteville Observer’s sports editor back then, was the one who gave me the chance to try to learn to tell those stories, believing in me enough to let me out of the office and away from a desk that was perpetually cluttered. He taught me the difference between a 7-iron and a pitching wedge. “If you’re going to write about golf, you need to learn a little bit about the game,” he said. Howard Ward, who died last month at the age of 84, set me on my way with the words that ring true to this day, many years removed from my days of writing sports: “Everyone,” he said, “has a story.”

Everyone has a story. And those stories often start with someone who gave us a shot, opened a door, paved the way, saw something in us that maybe we didn’t even see in ourselves. They change the course of our lives.

Perhaps they share their expertise, passing on, like the baton in a relay race, words of wisdom, encouragement, lessons learned for the future.

Perhaps they share something of themselves that makes us realize that we aren’t alone in life’s struggles. That mistakes of the past need not dim the future for us or, even blessedly more hopeful, for our kids. That we can overcome even the poorest of decisions and rise to make the shot, sink the putt, lead the congregation.

As a new year dawns, here’s to those who light the way for others.

We aren’t about to ever forget you.