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A quick hello from The South

New Dickinson Press sportswriter ready to hit the ground running

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Gaylon Wm. Parker
Josiah C. Cuellar/The Dickinson Press

You have no idea just how happy I am to be here in Dickinson, writing for your local newspaper.

My name is Gaylon, and I’ve been given a new opportunity to do something I love: Writing sports in a small town. There are many reasons for this, but chiefly among them is because these stories contain the exploits of your children, your neighbors, your friends and your families. These stories matter to me, but – more importantly – they matter to YOU.

A wise mentor of mine once told me there is only one place people can learn about the standout high-school football running back, or the fast-pitch softball player who just got a scholarship to college after she went 28-1 for her team, or the good work a local Little League coach has done with children for the last 28 years: And that is on the sports pages in communities just like yours.

First-off, the drive into town from Bismarck was delightful. I got more excited as the miles passed on Interstate 94, and while seeing the countryside covered with snow can be frightful for somebody from Jensen Beach, Fla., I knew with each passing giant cow, metal sculpture and barbed-wire fencepost that I was getting closer to a place I plan on calling “home.”

It was a necessary and needed move back to my “home” in sportswriting, along with the chance to grow with the fantastic team of coworkers here and to see the character of Dickinson, that all are dovetailing so well that each minute gets more enticing than the previous one.

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My first sportswriting job was at the Enid News & Eagle in Oklahoma, and that publication and city sold me on being a community-news reporter for the rest of my life. The newspapers that followed had many similar characteristics and qualities, whether it was the support and encouragement from residents starved for articles about their kids in Tularosa, N.M. – while working for the Alamogordo Daily News – or the honor of covering a state championship in Hurley, Miss. while working for The Mississippi Press, the gratitude on the faces of those fans was enough to know I was doing a good thing that would last and be remembered.

Not because of myself, nor anything I might have picked up in the way of tradecraft – mind you – but because we in community-sports journalism are responsible for cataloguing events that should never be lost to human memory. You can drive through any state in America and see metal road signs that say, “Home of the Bulldogs” or “Tiger Country” or “Home of the 1989 Little League World Series Champions.” But while 99.99-percent of those young people never moved on to the pros or college-level sports, their families still talk about “that” home-run, “THE” touchdown drive or “her” 18-strikeout no-hitter.

Yes, these stories always have mattered to me, but it’s the way they matter to you which makes writing them even more special. And this is your community that I have been invited into, for hopefully the rest of my career.

So, my rough, pencil-sketch outline for the remainder of it will be proving how honored I am to be working on behalf of these athletes who might not be recognized, otherwise. The way we are entrusted with this task is humbling; yet it serves as fuel for every syllable we bang out on the keyboard, and every interview is a chance to learn how crucial each step in that pursuit is to the athlete themselves, their Dad who coached them in Little League, their Mom who dutifully ensured they made it to practice or hosted the team bake sale and the Grandparents who sit proudly in the stands.

I’m Gaylon Wm. Parker and I work for The Dickinson Press. But – as far as I’m concerned – I also work for y’all. And I plan on working my tail off to those ends.

I can’t wait to meet you. And thank-you for reading The Dickinson Press and giving me the chance to be a part of your community.

Gaylon Wm. Parker can be reached at gparker@thedickinsonpress.com or 701-456-1213.

Gaylon is a sportswriter from Jensen Beach, Fla., but has lived all over the world. Growing up with an athletic background gave him a love of sports that led to a journalism career in such places as Enid, Okla., Alamogordo, N.M., Pascagoula, Miss. and Viera, Fla. since 1998. His main passion is small-town community sports, particularly baseball and soccer.
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