A year of anniversary

Anniversaries can be fun occasions. A few can be unpleasant as this year is the 10th anniversary of the winless Detroit Lions season and the 15th anniversary of the 2003 Tigers debacle, which set the American League record for losses and was one game short of tying the major league record. Both of those will be “honored” in future columns.

However, a vast majority of them are great. Ten years ago, the Red Wings won their most recent Stanley Cup and one year from now will be the 15th anniversary of the Pistons’ 2004 title.

For me, though, Friday was a more personal anniversary as it was my wedding anniversary, my fifth with my wife to be exact. It’s not easy being a sports writer despite what you might think. The hours are long, and depending on the sports you cover, you may not have a free evening for weeks or even months at a time.

As difficult as it is for me and other writers, I imagine it’s just as bad or even worse for our spouses or significant others. In the case of my wife, our relationship has basically revolved around sports. Thankfully I got hitched to a girl who actually enjoys sports, but I know for a fact that she doesn’t live and breathe it at the same level as I do.

When I went to college in Indianapolis, my now-wife came with me as I chased what could have been a fruitless dream of becoming a writer. This was a risk as we were moving in together after a cross-country trip. This might have been a completely fruitless journey as I could’ve graduated, become unemployed and then have to work at a Wal-Mart in Indiana. No disrespect if you work there, but I think you get my point.

While I was attempting to work my way through school, my wife worked to pay the bills and would accompany me on our ventures. Sometimes she was able to occupy her time by taking pictures, a passion of hers as you’ve probably seen some of her work here at the Journal.

Other times, she sat alone in the stands while I diligently typed away in the press box. She ate Chick-fil-A by herself at an Indiana Hoosiers football game and sat in a torrential downpour during a high school football playoff game. Yet, she was still happy at the end, just because she could be near me.

After serving as an intern and a part-time writer, I landed my first full-time gig in southern Illinois and that was an experience I’m sure she’d like to forget. If you’ve never been there, we were a little over an hour from the Kentucky border and about 90 minutes from St. Louis.

I met some really great people that I still talk to today, but the area is hot, ridiculously humid and there isn’t much to do other than watching some really bad sporting events.

The high school teams in the area weren’t very good and I’d have to cover blowouts on a regular basis. The football team went winless one year and the boys basketball team had one victory my first year there and it was on a buzzer-beater. Strangely enough, that victory came my first night on the job. It was all downhill after that. I guess my appearance was both a blessing and a curse.

Yet even though she seemed bored out of her mind at times, my wife sat loyally beside me. Things perked up for both of us four years ago when I landed the job up here. She loves being by water, so having Lake Superior next door and various swimming teams around the area to cheer and support made her happy.

When Munising and Ishpeming both made it to the state football finals in 2014, she tagged along to take photos, which gave her a chance to be on the field at an NFL stadium.

Her first love is hockey, though, and getting to watch Division I Northern Michigan University hit the ice brings her a lot of joy. When Hockeyville USA came to town two years ago, she was thrilled as she got to take photos at an NHL preseason game and also take in first-hand what hockey means not only to Marquette but the Upper Peninsula as a whole, and I know that was a fun experience for her.

We don’t get many opportunities for date nights, especially from August to May. Basically, our “romantic” get togethers involve me typing furiously on my laptop or taking down stats, while she either takes photos or attempts to stay awake. I’m sure she’d rather be doing other things, but she sticks around and supports me, even though I’m ignoring her so I can beat the deadline.

I know I’m terrible, but I sometimes can bring her free food, so maybe that makes up for it. That’s how women work, right?

We’ve been through a lot together, but as I wrote about my dad two weeks ago, sports will always play a role in our relationship. She encourages me, cheers for me, supports me and will put aside her own needs to help me out with my career. All in all, she’s a pretty awesome gal (even though she cheers loud and proud for the Ohio State Buckeyes).

So, here’s a shout-out to all the wives, girlfriends, husbands and boyfriends of us sports writers because we couldn’t do it without you.

Like I said, anniversaries can be fun occasions, but when it comes to the ones in my life, Friday was my favorite one so far.

Ryan Stieg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is rstieg@ miningjournal.net.

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