10/27/16: Senior Year in the Sonland Part 3: Sonland Sportswriter-Take 1

Hello to all who again may read this as I finally get around to what I was hoping to do when I started this blog a few months back: talk about my senior year at semi-scenic Noblesville High (aka The Sonland) and how I was able to survive a place I absolutely hated while going on to better thiings (like NOT being at Noblesville High) afterwards. Instead I’ve had self-imposed writer’s block because I’ll start thinking about other topics and then telling myself “I’ll write about them THEN go back on schedule.” But in order to get to said other topics I need to get the job done and write about the senior year stuff first. And since I’d rather not put too much effort into watching Titans-Jaguars on NFL Network this evening (no fantasy football players on my squad are playing in said game) then I’ll see if I can get through Part 3 in order to talk about the rest of the year. Some progress is better than none…..especially if it means avoiding mediocre NFL games.

I’d already gotten through a few things like cars driven (1977 Buick), going to concerts with beautiful girls (see Lyon, Jill; Byers, Jennie; and of course Byers, Trina), and even remembering the clothes I wore and the shoes I bought from the local Foot Locker. But thanks again to the Garrisons (see last 10/23 post) I knew I needed to get this blog post written after what they had told me last Sunday after discussing the plight of our own local NFL franchise, Diamond Jim Irsay’s Indianapolis Colts. After going somewhat in-depth about the future of current Colts coach Ground Chuck Pagano and Irsay’s favorite football executive “The Big Grig” Ryan Grigson, the Garrisons concluded the conversation with this quick take: “You should think about being a sportswriter.”

Ironically enough, there was a time that I was-in theory anyway-a sportswriter: the 1990-91 NHS Shadow staff for the school yearbook.

Hence the topic for this post.

Getting the chance to be on the yearbook staff was one of the main reasons I handled senior year about as well as could be expected since I was a Coke bottle glasses wearing goof driving a 1977 Buick who (paraphrasing WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley) couldn’t get laid even if I was carrying a fistful of weekend’s passes to a women’s prison. Instead of having a study hall or taking another social studies course or basically wandering around the halls like the not-100 percent mentally there Uncle Junior did in that one episode of “The Sopranos” where he tried to hide behind a dumpster from the local authorities, I actually got to contribute and be a part of something positive while in turn earning A’s and closing out each school day (the class was the last one of the day for me) without having to deal with people I did not care for (see previous posts in August for the main examples..with one surprising difference) nor having to stress too much about women wanting to go out with me because, well, that sure as $!$^% wasn’t happening because Coke bottle glasses wearing dudes driving 1977 Buicks in central Indiana make that pretty $!$^%^@ self-explanatory.

Hence, back to discussing yearbook as you’ve figured out why I was not surprised that I earned “Most Likely to Stay Single” honors from the peers of my own Sonland class. (No in-depth following up needed to figure out if that’s still the case these days; after all I actually admitted considering watching a Titans-Jaguars game earlier. Good to try to be consistent.)

Previous posts also show the beginnings of gearing up towards yearbook in the first place. I decided before junior year that if I was going to be at a place that I considered to be the modern day equal of Alcatraz that I was going to damn well take the classes I wanted to take. Fall of junior year saw one of said classes being Newswriting with journalism teacher and sponsor of school yearbook (Shadow) and newspaper (Mill Stream) one Butch Robbins. I’ve already referenced antics from that class involving cheerleader extraordinaire Dena Horn (“I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU CAME OVER TO MY HOUSE FITZPATRICK!“….me neither, Dena, but I also didn’t think I’d later be part of a college fraternity that once duct taped its own president to a ceiling) but with the exception of the ever flowing wisecracks and mullet of Doug Anderson the big thing from that class was that I found I was in fact able to be a semi-competent writer for a Sonland high school student. Along with Ali Keys I ended up getting one of the top grades in the class that was needed in order to even have a shot at being on the school yearbook or school newspaper staffs to begin with. And after being insulted for my first two years of Sonland classes to the point where sitting in a garage full of exhaust fumes seemed to be a better option then being in said classes, I now had more confidence to be able to feel like I might have a shot at saving my high school career from the full scale example of depression that I had personally allowed those first two years.

Enough self-analysis: basically I told myself “Self, time to try out for the publications staffs because why the f— not?”

So…one weeknight in spring semester junior year I put together a portfolio that said “Yes, I got an A in your newswriting class” along with “Here’s what I wrote in said class that didn’t involve Dena Horn’s perennial tan” and lastly “here’s my application that says if I want to choose which staff to join, it would be yearbook.” A couple of weeks later I would get a letter noting CONGRATULATIONS as I found out the good news-I did make the yearbook staff. As recently as one year prior that would not have been expected. So this was a positive deal that was needed as part of the countdown to GTFO since this was still the Sonland we’re talking about. Nevertheless now I got the chance to write about it and-for better or worse whether people really gave a s–t or not-put my mark on something by writing stories that some people may actually read when not looking too in-depth at the index or ads at the back of said yearbook. Or in simple terms I got to be a part of something that would help on the LOOK ME DO EXTRA STUFF SO COLLEGE PLEASE ACCEPT ME agenda….and again low stress=high grade if done properly or not asleep in said class.

The Garrison connection on said letter: the writing from Mr. Robbins saying “You’ll be working mainly on sports stories.” Fine with me. After all I didn’t see me spending multiple hours writing in-depth stories on school choir or who was guzzling the most Mountain Dew cans on the senior benches. A lifelong subscription to Sports Illustrated (hey, the swimsuit issue was a yearly highlight-just telling it like it was) may not have fully prepared me for sports journalism, yet at the same time that would definitely be my preference on what I would like to write about.

And, of course, that didn’t really end up being the case.

The setup was to originally be different departments where people would be in areas like academics, features, and of course sports. Your 1990-91 Shadow setup was to have five main people in charge……all females who were on the previous staff that were to hold all five editor/leadership positions while declaring their Fab Fivesome “The Senior Coolies.” (Their term, not mine. So we’ll roll with it.)  Your editor-in-chief was Rosie Piga (and since she would later hold the same title at IU-Bloomington as opposed to, say, IU-Calumet, safe to say she was a pretty damn good writer). Your copy editor/second in command was someone who was a prospective future relative of mine at one time, one Kyle Petersen. (Might as well give the info-my female cousin of same year at one time dated Petersen’s older brother. Put two and two together on the end result.) Your business manager (person who took care of ad sells) was soon-to-be former cheerleader Amie Gibson of whom I’d never had a full conversation with because fat Coke glasses wearing dudes usually don’t talk to cheerleaders unless s–t is getting thrown at them. Lastly noted Motley Crue enthusiast Amy Carol Craig rounded out the fearsome fivesome as your features editor. To this day I remember her telling me in Sunday School that I s—ed as an elementary football player because I scored no touchdowns one game. Considering I was the fat dude who hiked the ball to those who DID score touchdowns since I was the team’s center, I didn’t really care for the analysis at the time. Yet after dropping 60 pounds and the sport of active football from my Sonland life, I was no longer concerned about her pigskin prognosis……

….and then I almost forgot the fifth person-the sports editor: another former cheerleader, one Robin Shambora. As in the person who was to be the editor for me and junior Mike Van Dolah (who served as a class officer and played two sports; I have a good memory as I haven’t lost all my brain cells due to alcohol consumption just yet.) As in “well, this could be interesting…..but it’s better than getting s–t on like I’ve been used to.”

So…..before school ends that junior year there’s a meeting after school for the new staff. People roll in to the newswriting/journalism classroom, including people I’ve never seen before. In the irony that I referenced earlier, none other than one of the original Eight Sons was in there…one Andy Heiskell– he was going to be a photographer. To my surprise he did not start insulting me on cue like he had for all of frosh and sophomore year. In fairness the Alfred E. Newman lookalike Jeff Nee was not at Heiskell’s side, so there was a positive. And because it was the Sonland, I took that as a victory because quite frankly I was not in the mood to dread this upcoming class; I hated being in the school to begin with. Didn’t need anymore s–t after a pretty decent junior year for my standards (which were low enough to begin with). TLDR: The Eight Sons were not going to be an issue and shall not be mentioned yet again on said post. Always a good thing.

Back to said meeting….a couple of people did not recognize me because I had in fact lost said 60 pounds, and as mentioned before there were people (including Gibson) who would not have known me from the dude who played “Mac” on the NBC comedy classic Night Court. Which would be interesting in itself as here’s said Charles Robinson who played said Mac:

Yeah, must have been the sweater.

For your meeting, I remember the five female editors (the “Coolies”) save Piga sitting together, being vocal, and setting the tone that it was in fact THEIR yearbook and that we needed to be a good staff as Piga had ideas to make it a better book than the year before. I also got the impression that it was kind of a requirement to go for a week of yearbook camp that summer at DePauw University (alma mater of @jen.s.alexander.92) if one wanted to be the best that they could be for said yearbook. While I was not one to stir s–t and figured I could take a week to enjoy the fun filled college town of Greencastle, hence I planned on going to said camp. After all, it was Greencastle…which meant it wasn’t Noblesville. Enough for me as my standards were as low then as they are now.

Your obligatory DePauw photo:

..and so I planned on said camp…..

….and then when it’s time for camp, maybe one third of the staff goes. So much for required. With, of course, me being the only dude going. (Since Van Dolah and I were the only dudes on staff who were not photographers, I should have seen that coming. Then again I had enough trouble seeing since I was blind as a bat without said Coke bottle specs, hence not too surprising.) And I would find out that there were at most THREE dudes at the entire camp…….which, well, I didn’t exactly argue about.

Will look to post some photos from said camp down the road when I’m not as technologically inept, but my main memories of said camp include:

-driving down on a Sunday morning to Greencastle. The excitement is self-explanatory.

-rooming with a dude named Chris in one of the ancient dorms. Chris apparently also played hoops at his school so Chris was like seven feet tall or so. And enjoyed Led Zeppelin. Helped in dealing with my future fraternity bro and college roommate who was also taller than me and liked Zeppelin. Again, consistency.

Of course dude had Zeppelin IV on cassette, and I remember listening to it on the walkman before hitting the proverbial hay on weeknights. Again, Greencastle. I wasn’t going to be dropping too much acid.

-taking photos of people who had scowls on their faces. Scowls were probably due to me being bored and taking their photo.

-a blonde girl from Kokomo who was editor of said Kokomo High yearbook was in the same ‘workshops’ and looked like she would rather be stuck in traffic on the L.A. freeway during rush hour. That girl would later move to the Sonland that fall and be on said staff….none other than gal pal of @trina.byers13 one Christy Clausman. No complaints on that addition come fall time.

-eating Domino’s pizza because apparently that was the only place in the area that delivered pizza.

-lastly as mentioned previously I was now down to 140 pounds….and I enjoyed getting my photo taken showing that I was in fact now 140 pounds. I even smiled in all the photos. Couldn’t say the same in years prior.

And that’s a good place to stop…for now.

Still have to get this done sooner rather than later but probably best I get those photos and finish this up, then talk about the other classes before finally getting to the REAL good stories of that year. And there are actually good ones. Like “Mrs. Hess, Fitz is on novacaine.” And “Officer, I don’t have a license….but HE’S MY COUSIN and here’s my permit.” And of course “Fitz, WHERE IS HAGUE ROAD?”

The answer to the last one: we’re ON Hague Road, dude.

Thanks again for reading as I look to finish the yearbook stuff after I get my next round of homework done this weekend. As long as the Colts continue to be mediocre, I may actually make that goal for once.

Jeff

@fitzthoughtsblog

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