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I'm in North Dakota (And I Like it That Way)

October 16, 2013

Times-Record Sports Editor Jake McNeal.

Whitesnake sang, "I don't know where I'm going, but I sure know where I've been."

I've studied abroad in Italy, taught English in South Korea and visited Canada, Spain, France, Ireland, Sweden, Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Morocco, Japan and changed planes in Amsterdam, but I really like my latest stop, North Dakota.

Yes, I'm serious.

Bryan Adams said, "Ain't no use in complainin' when you've got a job to do," and he was right. Living here is just like living anywhere else because work is work, but I'm finally back to doing what I'm good at.

"Find what your niche is. That leads to riches," said TV's Hank Hill.
My niche certainly isn't teaching.

Life in Korea was stressful because Giraffe-Teacher (that's what the kids called me) was not as effective as Korean private school demands. I could not give the parents what they wanted, and they voted me out after three months.

C'est la vie. I didn't mind coming back to the U.S., and I would have wanted me out too.

I am happy to find myself in North Dakota because I have a sports writing legacy to build. When I got to Valley City in late August I was clueless, but after two months I'm consorting with coaches, players and all kinds of athletes in Barnes County to evolve my Sports section. I love small town life and how much space there is to breathe.

I like North Dakota because people are excited to tell me what's going on in their sports world (and being part of the same culture is always good — effective communication is very difficult overseas.) I am the Times-Record Sports gatekeeper and I want to give athletes the press they deserve.

Experience is what we call our mistakes and it makes a funny story later, so I'll be a master sports editor in no time.

I dread finding errors in my stories because I don't want to disappoint the readers.

"Why am I here if I can't put out an error-free Sports section?" I ask myself, when I realize I didn't catch an error before it published. "How embarrassing!"

You'd better believe I run a correction-slash-apology if I find a mistake.

Do I overreact to things? Of course. I am four months short of 25 years old, but I'm trying to be professional.

If you have something fun going on, send me your updates and I'll get right on it. I'm here to cover what's going on in Barnes County, so tell me what you're up to.

You can also tell me what you want to see in the paper and what I can do better.

I am here to tell your sports stories, Barnes County.

And I promise I'll do my best.

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