Newspaper reporters need people like Susan Miller. We need someone to tell you what’s going on behind the scenes. To straighten us out and remind us.
These are the kinds of tips newspaper reporters are in search of: Information to share. How I used to hear from people just standing in line at the grocery store. Or waiting for my car to be serviced. Inevitably, people might recognize me as the sports writer for the local newspaper.
It always starts out with this line: “You might be interested in hearing this …”
Unbeknownst to her, Susan and her husband Jake were willing tipsters. There she was at the Salt Lake City airport early one Sunday morning. Early last spring, I was flying home from visiting my newborn granddaughter, Katie. Susan and Jake had been at a wedding.
It had been years. My wife, Laurie, was Susan’s student teacher back in 1986. Kimberly School, I think.
There was a common bond beyond just Susan and Laurie. Susan and I both knew Gary Luebbers. He was girls’ basketball coach at Redlands High back in those days.
She was dating him. “For about five minutes,” Susan not-so-cheerfully reminisced.
During her prep days, Wendy Luebbers was a shooting specialist at Redlands High. For her dad.
How coincidental that Wendy now coaches the women’s team at the same Eastern Washington university campus that former Redlands East Valley boys star Kim Aiken plays on the men’s squad.
Facts that Susan was filling me in on.
There was Susan, sitting in the Salt Lake City airport, later in Las Vegas, relating to those days when she dated Wendy’s dad.
Even after she and Gary went their separate ways, Susan stayed in touch with Wendy.
“I went to all of Wendy’s games,” said Susan.
We argued politely.
Wendy went to Boise State, then Riverside City College, Susan told me.
No, it doesn’t work that way. Athletes usually go the JUCO route first, then head onto a 4-year school.
I tried explaining that to her. She was waiting for me to stop, to shut up, waiting to straighten out my information.
No, no, no, she hammered back. “Wendy came back.”
To Riverside City College. From Boise State. She didn’t play much in her first season in scholarship at Boise State, which only her half during her sophomore season.
She produced documentation on her iPhone. That’s something she couldn’t have done back in the day. There it was right on Wendy’s Eastern Washington bio.
There was also an article on Eastern Washington’s men’s and women’s coaches, how great they get along. Right in the piece was a blurb about how Aiken hit a game-winning, buzzer-beating shot.
Wendy Luebbers, though, had gone to Boise State. One season. Back to RCC for her sophomore season. Then, said Susan, Wendy played two seasons at Fresno-Pacific. That, I remembered.
Susan was adamant. She was right about the Boise State-to-RCC connection.
She calmed down. Point proven. Professional sports reporter proved wrong!
Contritely, I saw fit to start listening rather than implement my superior knowledge, which was, at this moment, highly inferior.
By the way, if I argue with you, hang in there with me, please. Susan straightened me out. So can you.
Newspaper reporters need people like Susan Miller.
Got a sports tip, some rumblings, or just chat about sports? Hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org