Western Wheel nabs three-peat

AWNA: Sports section voted best in Alberta for third consecutive year

By: Remy Greer

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jul 02, 2014 11:08 am

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Like the athletes we cover, the Western Wheel’s sportswriters are a competitive duo.

Fortunately for the sports department, all we’ve done in their three years together is win and win no matter what. The Western Wheel took home Best Sports Page for the 2013 year at the Alberta Weekly Newspaper Associations’ annual gala for the third time in a row.

“While we pay considerable attention to the sports like football and hockey we’re also interested in wrestling and high school sports,” said veteran sportswriter Bruce Campbell. “One of the keys to that is while our sports department enjoy all sports, we try to focus on where our main interests are.

“And we’re fortunate because we have a large selection.”

No doubt about it.

From the Dawg days of summer to zone volleyball championships by the Oilfields Drillers, the rejuvenation of the Foothills Falcons football team to the Okotoks Bisons winning their first Junior B provincial banner and Jason Glass winning the elusive Calgary Stampede Rangeland Derby championship for his hometown of High River, 2013 was a sportswriters’ dream year.

We’re only as good as the stories unfolding in front of us and we couldn’t ask for more to work with.

Reflecting on 2013, one story stood out for Campbell. When the Boston Marathon was hit by terrorist bombings on April 15, he was quickly able to get a hold of the three of the foothills runners at the world’s most famous race and confirm their safety. Before afternoon’s end he had the story up on the Wheel’s website.

“It was hectic and all the people that were able to get back to me were more than cooperative in a stressful situation,” Campbell said. “I remember Daniel Marsh telling me heartbreakingly ‘it’s pretty emotional, it’s hard.’ It reminded me there is more to this than just a story.”

From my perspective as the beat writer for the marathon Junior hockey seasons, 2013 was the most memorable and noteworthy since I joined the Wheel staff in the summer of 2011.

Watching the Jr. A Oilers evolve from a team without a quantifiable identity in the early stages of the season to their brilliant playoff run led by the electric Chris Collins and a strong supporting cast was a pleasure from start to finish. Ditto for the Jr. B Bisons’ historic run to a provincial championship in Wainwright to complete a 28-year journey of close-calls for the organization.

I think one thing that sets our sports department is being present to cover events live as much as possible. Rather than rely on reporting over the phone or off a stat-sheet, we’re able to tell a much more descriptive and accurate tale by being their in person.

We should give a special shout out to Wheel photographer Jordan Verlage for giving our section a touch of class and taking the visual element to another level and for the rest of the Wheel staffers for their help along the way.

We’ve now won this award all three of my years here in Okotoks. It’s a team effort and a testament to the town and region we cover.


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