Proud to be part of a growing trend in newspapers

Tom Savage, Contributing writer

I went to college for one reason, and one reason only: I wanted to write about sports for a living. Specifically, I was a bit of an old soul at 18 years of age and already loved the history of South Dakota sports. I wanted to be a part of telling its stories.

I figured out pretty early on that my days on the court or field were numbered. Actually, they were over by the time I finished middle school, and I knew it.

I grew up on the extreme eastern edge of Sioux Falls, about one mile outside the Brandon Valley School District boundary. So instead of being a Lynx, I was one mile positioned to the west where I played sports at Whittier Middle School in central Sioux Falls.

At Whittier, I was actually pretty good at both football and basketball. He probably doesn’t remember it, but legendary South Dakota high school football coach Brian Hermanson, who coached Sioux Falls Washington to three 11AAA championships in the early 2000s, had me as his first quarterback in South Dakota while at Whittier.

I’m confident Coach Hermanson probably rolled his eyes more than once when my voice cracked as a 15-year old eighth grader when I barked out “hut” on the signal cadence. 

Squeaky voice or not, I quarterbacked the Wolverines at Whittier. I was also the starting point guard and had high hopes when I headed to Sioux Falls Lincoln as a sophomore in 1985.

But realization kicked in the fall of that year when I met up with all of the fellas from Patrick Henry Middle School in Sioux Falls. They were also sophomores at Lincoln, and for whatever reason, they were bigger, faster, stronger. My playing days ended almost immediately and I never took the field or floor competitively again.

But I wanted to stay in it. Wanted to stay in sports. So I almost immediately directed my attention to writing about it, learning the craft of how to do it, and meeting as many people as I could that could help me along the way.

In college, I met Danny Olson, who was a hero of mine growing up. Danny was the play-by-play voice of high school basketball on 1140 KSOO.

“Danny O on KSOO” 

I can still hear that radio intro whenever I listen to high school football or basketball now when John Gaskins calls the games on KWSN.

Danny introduced me to a lot of things. I think I appreciate the history of South Dakota sports because of him. He was quite the historian. He passed away in 2006. That was sad, obviously. At the time, I was also a concerned 37-year-old that so much South Dakota sports history would be lost.

Thankfully, that hasn’t happened. Actually, it was never in jeopardy. The South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame is a strong, admirable organization dedicated to the preservation, documentation and display of South Dakota’s sports history.

Mike Henriksen is a board member of the Hall of Fame. For as much as I love South Dakota sports history and feel I’ve got a good grasp on it, I call Mike more than once throughout the year if I’m searching for something.

Which brings me back to today. I wanted to write about sports in South Dakota, and I get to, every week. Like I’ve said in several columns before this one, there’s a dude out there with no luck at all because I’ve got his and mine.

Journalism is in a strange place in today’s world. When I went to USF in the fall of 1987 and declared journalism as my major, I never would have guessed that this is what it would look like 37 years later. No one would.

There have been hundreds of newspapers that have closed in recent years. That leaves many communities without any source for local news. A recent Northwestern University report said that more than half of U.S. counties have no access or very limited access to local news. Academic research has found that voter turnout tends to fall, and corruption and political polarization on both sides of the aisle tend to rise, when people have no way to follow local news.

As readership continues to wane for daily newspapers, from the New York Times all the way to the Argus Leader in Sioux Falls, thankfully there are weeklies around the country that are as strong as ever. 

I’m very grateful to the Brandon Valley Journal for continuing to produce this old school, romantic version of communication. There is still something about newspaper writing that encourages me to continue to write it, and read it.

But you don’t need me to point that out. Judging by your responses to the Brandon Valley Journal, things at a weekly paper in our community are as strong as ever.

Thank you, for reading.


The Brandon Valley Journal


The Brandon Valley Journal
1404 E. Cedar St.
Brandon, SD 57005
(605) 582-9999

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