Inside the Newsroom

News, commentary, insight on local happenings and fun from the staff of The Saline Reporter and Milan News-Leader.

Friday, June 27, 2008

More info on Steve Sherer's fight for place on U.S. Olympic squad

If you've read this week's edition, you know former Hornet track star Steve Sherer is on his way to Eugene, Ore. to run in the U.S. Olympic trials. Sherer will run the 1,500 meters, needing a top-three finish to earn his way to Beijing.

It won't be easy--he'll enter the race with what currently ranks as the seventh-fastest time in the seedings, which you can see here. (Sherer was placed sixth earlier this week; you can also see at that link that--I think--he's narrowly missed out on qualifying for the 800 meters as well. They take the top-30 and he appears to be around 35th.) Still, being the seventh-fastest guy in America in the 1,500 means that you are, regardless, one incredibly, incredibly fast dude.

What's most remarkable about Sherer's story is that he's pulled off that kind of accomplishment without the help of any kind of sponsorship or team. When I caught up with Sherer last July, he'd been living with fellow track star Nick Willis in Ann Arbor but essentially training alone. He was poised then to move to California and out of the Michigan winters (which were just a bit unsuitable for outdoor training), and while he's since found someone he refers to as "an advisor" in this interview with, he's still designing his own training schedule, working out alone, and paying his own way. (That's an excellent and highly recommended interview, by the way.)

For the world of big-time track, that seems to be just about unheard of, which is why it was apparently a shock to those who follow the sport when Sherer ran a 3:56 the first week of February at an indoor meet at the University of Washington.

Here's to hoping Steve just keeps on shocking people all the way to China.


Support the Milan Fair

The Milan Community Fair is struggling and we need to do all we can to help. I know the weather hasn't been spectacular since Wednesday's opening day, but there have been periods in between rain showers and thunderstorms, right? We were lucky during the parade as it was raining right up until the 6:30 p.m. start and held off until two minutes after it ended. Below are some photos from the parade and carnival. Please enjoy and I hope it inspires you to get out there before the fair closes Saturday night. Also, don't forget to donate to the fair to help it continue next year. Collection canisters are at local businesses and restaurants, and donations will be sought during tonight's fireworks.

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Monday, June 23, 2008

Pain, risk isn't confined to one team

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a column for the Reporter and News-Leader about losing in sports. Not just any type of loss, though--the kind that stays with you, month after month, year after year. The examples I used were my own personal defeat in my sixth-grade country spelling bee back in Alabama and the loss by the Milan baseball team in their district tournament final. It was during the conversation with an audibly disappointed head coach Adam Gilles--a conversation over the phone, a few days after the fact--that reminded me how much it can hurt to lose.

I thought about including a few other examples of painful losses from Saline and Milan's very recent history--the Hornet softball team losing a late lead against Taylor-Kennedy, for instance, or the Saline girls' soccer team seeing their run of four straight district titles ended by Ann Arbor Huron. I'm sure that in one sense, the Hornet soccer players might be comforted by the fact that Huron would go on to win the state championship in a more dominating fashion than they won over the Hornets. In another sense, though, it might make the pain even worse--Saline was never outclassed in three games against the Rats (the first two were both 1-0 Huron wins with the goals coming in the final seconds) and by all accounts played their best half against them yet in the first half of the district final. There wasn't much, if any, talent difference between the two sides; a break here, a break there, and could it be Saline in the state title game?

So it's worth pointing out that there was more than one painful loss this spring. The column's length meant that said pointing out had to be relocated here, but rest assured I was aware there were plenty other examples of how much emotional risk is involved in high school athletics.

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Movie producers land in Saline

I hope you all read the story in last week's paper about the rather big news here in Saline. (actually, due to a production glitch, it ran twice). Drew Barrymore's production company, Flower Films, has set up shop in the city to use as a base during filming of "Whip It," a movie about a teenage girl who finds the meaning of life by joining a roller derby league.
Folks at city hall, who are helping coordinate the location, are tight-lipped, concerned that we'll all get nutty about having celebs in town. Now, I don't think we're the type, do you? Come on now. We won't slam on the brakes at the four corners when we see someone with a big camera crossing the street. We won't crash our cart in aisle four of Busch's if we spot a west-coaster behind dark glasses looking for olive oil. We'll be helpful, considerate, friendly. Just like always. Right? Right.
Watch this blog for any information. As soon as we hear anything, we'll post it here.
Have a great summer. Be kind to one another and keep those arms (and eyes) wide open.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

School is o - u - t.

Let the fun begin. School is out, for the students at Saline schools. Yesterday was a half-day (what's up with those, anyways??). Today, it's all about spending the morning in pajamas, ignoring the face of the clock and maybe venturing outside to play. All day. Nice.
For me, it means a more relaxed morning, too. Not having to wake w/ my girls around 6:45 to get them on the bus (though, they are very self-sufficient). It means I'll have to be more organized with my schedule to try to get my interviews in, stories written, photos taken while keeping track of my three kids. It's a bit of a juggling act, as any working mom knows. I'm very lucky to have a wonderful editor, a helpful husband and a teenager with a driver's license. I'm lucky to live in the community where I work, so I can often cover a story or event with my family along for the ride. It's going to be a great summer in Milan and Saline. Outdoor concerts (the first is this Friday, 6:30, downtown Saline), fairs (Milan's starts June 23), festivals (Sportscars to Saline on Sun, June 22) and more. Don't forget the ice cream. My son and I went to the Dairy Barn in Milan yesterday. I had the best-ever Boston cooler. oh la la. Mickey's in Saline has a new flavor - home-made mocha chip. We all gave it the thumbs-up. And, we're big coffee ice cream fans.
Have a great summer. Spend your money and your time in your downtown and engage your family in reading and one another. have fun.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Milan Graduation Stirs Memories

While growing up, I was never really excited about graduation. Sure, it was a ceremony and celebration marking an accomplishment one should be proud of, but to me it felt like any other day. It was just the next step to something bigger and I would celebrate when I reached that final goal. While attending Milan High School's 123rd commencement Sunday to capture video for our Web site, however, I gained a new perspective.

I graduated from Whitmore Lake High School in 1986 and it was a small class of about 50. I like to brag I was in the top 10 of my graduating class, and I was. But when there are only 50 people, that really means you're an average student, which I was. I got into Eastern Michigan University with a 17 ACT score and on probationary status. While attending EMU full time, I worked 30 or more hours a week as a waitress at Bennigan's to pay for my college tuition, rent, bills -- everything. I didn't receive financial help from my parents.

My grades there were average as well, partly because I was distracted with work while earning my keep, but also because I didn't have a deep interest in some of the subject matter. It was in my journalism, public relations, magazine writing and political science classes, where I excelled. In fact, it was those classes that helped me raise my grade point average high enough to finally declare my major during my senior year so I could graduate. It required a 2.5. I graduated with a 2.7, but my grades in my area of concentration, which was journalism and political science, were A's and B's. It was economics, philosophy, algebra and biology that killed me.

While I attended my high school graduation out of tradition, I didn't attend my college graduation. Instead, I worked. I served families who were celebrating their child's graduation, and I couldn't figure out what the big deal was. "You want a cake, for what? I graduated today, too, and here I am."

I figured it was like any other day and I thought graduating with a bachelor's degree, much like earning my high school diploma five years earlier, was pretty basic stuff. "What's the big deal?" I thought. "This is what's expected of everyone. You need a college degree to get a 'real' job." I didn't take the time to pat myself on the back because I was just doing what I needed to do to get to the next step -- to start a career that I would love and continue to be totally independent and self-reliant. I never took the time to take stock in what I had accomplished. I was on to the next dream -- a career in journalism, which, by the way, took a year to start. I thought I'd celebrate then. But after you get where you want to be, there's another dream -- from reporter to associate editor to editor for me. Do I celebrate now?

No, now, I am too busy to celebrate. I have two newspapers to put out, a blog to maintain, video to shoot in the community for our Web site, employee payroll, staff reviews, 100-plus stories to edit each week, newspapers to paginate, pages to proofread, photos to take myself and submitted photos to process, press releases to review, freelancers to coordinate, deadlines to meet, phone calls to return and 300 e-mails a day to peruse.

But after attending Milan High School's Portfolio Night last month and hearing the personal stories of some of these teens and how much they have struggled to get to the point of graduation, I gained a new appreciation for celebrating every accomplishment. One girl told us she would be the first in her family to graduate from high school. Another said her mother was struggling financially, worked several jobs and had a hard time getting her to school on time because they lived outside the district and only had one car, so she was often tardy and missed a lot of days. Hearing stories like theirs and then attending the graduation ceremony in person, with hundreds of parents, siblings and grandparents filling the gymnasium's bleachers to show their support, makes me want to cheer them on and tell them "good job," too. I want to encourage them to keep going, no matter how hard it is. Get that bachelor's, and for some a master's and doctorate. Get that technical training. Do whatever it takes to meet your goals and achieve your dreams.

And celebrate along the way because you deserve it. Celebrating is part of the joys of life. Not celebrating won't get you where you want to go any faster and once you get there, there may be less time to reflect.

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