One of the things I’ve always loved about this job is getting the opportunity to write about amazing people doing amazing things both inside and outside the athletic arena.
The chance to get paid to watch sports, frankly, pales in comparison to the joy I’ve gotten over the years chronicling the pursuits of local athletes who excel both on and off the field.
Most of the time, my writing has been about high school and college athletes with the occasional big pro star in the mix.
I’ve also been blessed to get to interview several Olympic athletes. In 2008 when I was working as a sports editor in northeast Indiana, I did a feature on Amy Yoder Begley, a local distance runner who qualified for the Beijing Olympics.
Last week, my portfolio of stories on Olympic athletes doubled when I got to talk to John Boie, a 2009 Milton High School and 2014 UW-Whitewater grad who made the 2020 U.S. wheelchair basketball team.
Boie is truly excited to finally achieve a longtime goal of representing the U.S. in the Paralympics in a sport he’s pretty darned good at. He was a part of three national championships at UW-Whitewater, which has become a wheelchair basketball powerhouse in the vein of Duke or Kentucky.
How big a powerhouse, you ask? Five out of 12 members of Team USA have ties to the local UW system campus.
Boie works as an academic advisor at UW-Whitewater … something else I’m guessing he’s darned good at. Who better to help students identify and pursue their dreams than someone currently pursuing their own dream?
At San Diego State, I was fortunate to be paired with an academic advisor who had spent several decades working in newspapers before getting first a master’s degree and then a doctorate in journalism, then moving into the academic world.
As my luck would have it, I got Dr. Lee Brown as my advisor the semester he’d decided to quit smoking.
So the signature grumpiness I’d already been warned about was enhanced by a factor of oh, I’d say, at least 100.
Our conversations were always punctuated by him popping yet another piece of the Nicorette gum he was using to kick the habit.
I’d known I wanted to be a journalist since fourth grade, so Dr. Brown’s task in my case was a tad more simple than it might have been with other students. But he helped me plot out a class schedule that meshed with my need to work full-time, and met my goal of being out in the world working by the summer of 1994.
One day, with a twinkle in his eyes behind the ill-fitting glasses he always seemed to need to push back into place, Dr. Brown remarked that he was glad I’d selected the news-editorial track for my degree because I had a “face made for newspapers.”
Gee thanks, Dr. Brown, I thought with an eye roll as I left his office.
Later, Dr. Brown presented me with the SDSU journalism department’s outstanding graduate award and served as a reference, helping me land my first job.
Nearly three decades later, I still think back fondly on Dr. Brown and will be forever grateful for the guidance he offered.
I can only imagine how many students feel the same way about Boie, who also teaches a class for first-generation college students on how to succeed. I was the first person in my family to go to college, and I would have loved to have a class like that to set the table for my college experience.
Congratulations to all our Olympians headed to Tokyo—especially Milton’s own John Boie, who has made his community proud and will continue to do so both on and off the basketball court.