Goodbye, but not gone

Posted: 15th May 2014 by Aaron Hagen in Uncategorized

June 4 has been an important date in my life.

It was June 4, 2007 when I first began at the Daily Globe as a sports reporter.

It was exactly one year later I became the sports editor.

And for the first time in seven years, I won’t be employed at the Globe when the calendar turns to June 4.

I have accepted a position with Mike Woll Investment here in Worthington, where I will begin on June 2.

Maybe I should have waited two more days to keep with my theme.

It was a decision I did not make lightly, but it’s one in which I am excited.

As my time at the Globe comes to an end — my last day will be May 23 — I have done a lot of reminiscing.

A few years ago, as a senior at Wartburg College, I remember deciding it was time to start looking for jobs. Online, I found a sports reporter job in Worthington. I found the town’s motto, “You’ll come to love us.” It turns out, they were right.

I applied to that town in Minnesota (but still close enough to my beloved Iowa), and had an interview with Managing Editor Ryan McGaughey. I still remember my interview with Ryan at what is now the Longbranch. I believe I had a fish sandwich.

After lunch, I met with then Sports Editor Kevin Kyle. Now, Kevin is one of the nicest guys you’ll meet, but is rather intimidating when you first meet him. This was no exception. I wasn’t going to be done with school until the end of May. On this day, in late April, he asked, “You want me to wait for you?”

I don’t know what I said in response, but I was hoping he would. Luckily, he did.

I still remember my first week. I met with Kevin, who I might add was a great mentor during and after his employment at the Globe. My first day, I went to Windom to cover an Adrian and Murray County Central baseball game. Adrian won 23-4 and I was off and running.

It was during one of my first few days when Kevin told me I would be heading to Mankato to cover Pipestone Area at the state softball tournament. I thought he was crazy. Who sends a reporter to something that big the first week? Well, Kevin did. Not sure if he knew what he was going to get, but I’d like to think I did a pretty decent job. Of course, the Arrows won the state title in an epic 17-inning championship game.

The rest, as they say, is history.

A year later Kevin told me he was leaving for the Pipestone paper and I would move up as the sports editor. Not knowing what I was getting myself into, I took the position.

Turns out it was the best decision I ever made.

I loved covering sports in this area. Southwest Minnesota and northwest Iowa is a hotbed for athletes. Nearly every year, we had a team challenging for a state tournament berth.

During my tenure as the editor, I feel like we did some great work. But for that, I have to thank those I worked with: Matt Huss, Michael Brauer, Daniel Kerwin and the Knutsons. They were the backbone of the sports section during those three-plus years.

After moving to the Community Content Coordinator position, I began covering city council. Without the help of Craig Clark, Brad Chapulis, Alan Oberloh, Mindy Eggers and Janice Oberloh, I don’t know what I would have done. They have answered my sometimes silly questions and made a reporter who had no idea how to cover the city beat feel comfortable. They don’t often get enough credit for what they do at city hall.

Co-worker Beth Rickers has taught me more about journalism, editing — and cooking — than I ever thought possible. She has been someone to bounce ideas off of and guide me through conundrums. Thanks to Julie Buntjer, I have a much broader knowledge of farming. And while farming stories were ones I was most often utterly lost going into an interview, I always learned the most from them. Ryan was and always will be “Chief” to me. He has guided me when I was lost, covered my backside when needed and gave me the freedom to try new things — not all of which turned out to be successes I might add.

Then there is Brian Korthals, someone who taught me the ropes on photography. He and I have had some great times together — including trips to MMA fights and state tournaments — both inside and outside of work. They are memories I will never forget.

There are so many more who have had an impact on my Globe experience, including current newsroom employees Doug, Zach, Roberta and Erin and those who have come and gone, including Chris, Joe, Veasey, Ashley, Ana, Justine, Laura, Aaron and Alyson, to name a few.

All these people have been like my family for the past seven years. For nearly one quarter of my life, we have laughed together, had late nights and early mornings and through it all, did some pretty great work together.

And there’s you, the faithful readers and subscribers. To you, I say thank you. You made it all worthwhile. You pushed me to work harder and to be better.

To all my current and former co-workers, thank you isn’t enough. I have grown up during the past seven years, both personally and professionally. You have witnessed the good and the bad. There will always be a special place in my heart for the Globe and all those people within those walls. They saw me through two different position changes. They helped me through my quarter-life crisis when I turned 25. They maybe haven’t always agreed with me on certain things, but they have been there for me through it all.

This certainly is a new beginning for me and one that I am excited to undertake. But this isn’t goodbye, not by any stretch of the imagination. My name may no longer appear in print on a regular basis, but that doesn’t mean you won’t still see me around.

After all, I have come to love Worthington.

My predictions

Posted: 2nd May 2014 by Aaron Hagen in Uncategorized

A while ago — on April 1 to be exact — Sports Editor Doug Wolter wrote an interesting column.

In that post, he had a little fun with the fact it was April Fool’s Day. He said that many of us in the newsroom were leaving for positions within various career paths.

He wrote: “Finally, our community content coordinator, Aaron Hagen, will be leaving to join ESPN NFL draft experts Mel Kiper and Todd McShay where he will annually share his personal thoughts on the best and worst college athletes angling for multi-million dollar contracts.”

Well, there is no truth to that. I am, in fact, not going to ESPN.

And, I am in no way an NFL draft expert.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t love this time of year, because I do.

Granted, I am getting a little sick and tired of all the talk of the draft. With it being so late this year, it seems like we’ve been hearing about Johnny Manziel for months now.

Every day a new mock draft comes out. There are all kinds of “experts” out there predicting picks, trades and possible scenarios.

The bottom line is this, something unexpected will happen.

Here’s my boldest thought: Manziel is going to be the No. 1 pick.

Before you stop reading in disgust, let me explain.

I don’t think he is the best player in the NFL draft. I don’t think he’s going to have the best career. Shoot, I’m not sold he’s the best quarterback available.

But, here’s why I feel this way. The Houston Texans have the No. 1 pick.

If it’s anyone else, I don’t think he’s first.

A team from Texas can’t pass up on a quarterback from Texas.

I just don’t see that happening.

The Texans need a quarterback, so it’s not unrealistic. They need someone to energize that franchise, and Manziel will do it.

Could I see them passing and drafting Jadeveon Clowney? Sure. But I don’t think that’s as likely as Manziel going first.

My team, Buffalo, picks No. 9, right behind the Vikings. I will be curious as to what happens with those two picks. The Bills have many needs. Mock drafts I’ve seen have them taking an offensive tackle. I wouldn’t be opposed.

The Vikings need a quarterback. But I don’t see them taking one at No. 8. Outside of the “big 3″ of Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater and Blake Bortles, there are still plenty of quality quarterbacks available. They will be there in the second or third rounds. I would be shocked if the Vikings don’t end up with a quarterback in the first three rounds. But, if none of the top quarterbacks are available at No. 8, I don’t think they reach. I hope they learned their lesson with Christian Ponder.

Of course, who knows what will happen during the three-day draft. And that’s what makes it fun.

 

Hello Social Media Breakfast Club!

Posted: 22nd April 2014 by Aaron Hagen in Uncategorized

If you are reading this, that means this is being used as an example for the Social Media Breakfast Club.

If that’s the case, then hello!

I’m glad you are here, and hopefully you are getting something useful out of this session.

If you aren’t, please ask questions. This is about you and how we can share what we are doing in an effort to grow your online presence.

The biggest thing I can share with you today — and always — is that blogging is fun. There are no limits on length. Your message won’t get lost. It gives you an opportunity to explain things to the target audience you desire. Because, after all, if they care enough to click on a blog post, they want to know what you have to say.

If you are interested in starting a blog, but just aren’t sure how, I’ll be glad to help you out.

If you’d like to use our Areavoices platform, you would have the ability to be seen by many more users. In the end, that’s what it’s about. It’s about getting your message out there. And blogs can certainly help.

If you are at breakfast, thanks for coming.

And if you weren’t, you are missing out!

Where does inspiration come from?

Posted: 17th April 2014 by Aaron Hagen in Uncategorized

That has to be one of the most common questions I get when it comes to blogs.

How do you come up with things to write about?

I can’t speak for my colleagues here at the Daily Globe, because we are all different.

But I can speak for me.

And sometimes, yes, it is difficult.

I write so much for different things that sometimes a blog is the last thing I want to do.

And yet, for me, there’s something soothing about blogging.

In a profession where we are surrounded by bad news, sometimes it’s nice to write about something else. It’s nice to share a funny story or light-hearted situation.

But that doesn’t answer the question.

To be perfectly honest, it’s amazing on what I have written blogs about. They have ranged from family and friends to events I have participated in to current events.

Being a former sports editor here at the Globe, often my blogs have leaned toward the sports field.

But that’s what’s fun about blogs, they are unique. Each person has their own with what they are free to do what they choose.

Some people outside of the Globe’s walls use blogs for other reasons. Some are devoted to a specific topic. Others are used for business. And some are used to promote an agenda of some sort.

Here, the staff blogs are nothing more than to allow us a chance to interject our personalities in the newspaper.

As part of the Social Media Breakfast Club here in Worthington, we will be giving a presentation on blogging. Everyone is welcome to join us at 8 a.m. Wednesday at BenLees. The event is free, but pre-registration is required. To register, contact Julie Foote at jfoote@mvtvwireless.com.

Which is better?

Posted: 9th April 2014 by Aaron Hagen in Uncategorized

A friend of my posed an interesting question recently.

Which is better, winning the NIT or being one and done in the NCAA tournament.

Of course, he was referencing the Minnesota men’s basketball team winning the National Invitation Tournament and the Iowa Hawkeyes losing in the “First Four.”

Well, my first thought is neither.

In 10 years, nobody will remember the NIT.

Or the First Four, for that matter.

All that will be remembered is the NCAA champion — Connecticut.

So my initial response was that neither is an envious position.

But then I started thinking a little more.

I had to first give credit to the Gophers. Winning any tournament is impressive. Having the experience of playing some good teams and playing in Madison Square Garden will be helpful down the road. I would think it would be especially helpful for a young coach to gain that experience. Having a few more weeks of practice for the returning players to learn the system is certainly a positive. And, for the outgoing players, a win in your final game — no matter where it is — leaves a much more positive stamp on your college experience.

However, I started thinking about the NCAA Tournament. How many people watch the tournament? How many fill out a bracket? People who know little or nothing about college basketball fill them out. Shoot, even the President of the United States fills out a bracket.

I don’t see many people going in on a NIT pool. I don’t see our president predicting the NIT champion.

So, on the prestige aspect, I have to give it to the NCAA tournament, and Iowa.

Am I happy for the Gophers? Yes.

Am I disappointed in the Hawks? Definitely.

Minnesota needed something to feel good about this season. They needed a good showing in the NIT, and they got it. I just hope they can keep that momentum going into next season. As Richard Pitino goes into his second season as the Gophers’ head coach, I think there is definitely room to improve.

But as far as the question, I’ll say Iowa is better. Even being one and done in the NCAA tournament is better than winning the NIT.

I may be slightly biased, but all things considered, more attention and more prestige goes to the NCAA tourney.

I’m just hoping that Iowa can use that experience to go a little further next season.

Well, I didn’t win a billion dollars by filling out a perfect bracket.

And you know, I’m not too broken up about it. Maybe it’s because I had really no expectations of winning.

Or maybe it was because I wouldn’t know what to do with a billion dollars anyway.

Even though this tournament won’t be profitable for me (I’m not even going to win my office pool), it doesn’t mean I haven’t enjoyed it.

I didn’t so much enjoy the Iowa loss. But other than that, I have enjoyed every minute I have been able to watch.

And while I am planning to spend most of this weekend watching basketball, I will have to miss most of tonight’s games.

But it’s for a good reason: The Worthington Area YMCA Cruise Dinner.

Annual event promises fun evening

I have often told people, Worthington is what you make of it.

Well, tonight, Worthington has an opportunity to be a great place to be.

The annual YMCA Cruise Dinner is tonight at the Worthington Event Center.

This year, the Johnny Holm Band will be the main entertainment.

I have gone to the Cruise Dinner a few years now, and it has proved to be a highlight of the year each time.

A year ago, the event moved to the Event Center. The venue was great. Out there again this year, I have high expectations for the evening.

I have written many times about my fondness for live music. And this is yet another opportunity to hear some great music.

Worthington really is what you make of it.

And with good friends, good food and good music, the YMCA Cruise Dinner is going to make Worthington a great place to be.

Not letting it bring me down

Posted: 14th March 2014 by Aaron Hagen in Uncategorized
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This is one of my favorite times of the year.

And it’s not just because it’s finally getting warm. Although that doesn’t hurt.

But what makes this the best time of the year is March Madness.

It’s the time when the world stops (or at least my world does) and watches college basketball.

It’s the time when frustration over brackets and excitement about upsets can happen in the blink of an eye.

It’s the time when Cinderella isn’t just a Disney character.

And as excited as I am for the NCAA tournament to begin, I couldn’t help but be disappointed in the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Anyone who knows me knows I am a die hard fan.

And this was supposed to be the year — the year when Iowa finally made a run at the Big Ten title.

It didn’t happen.

Not even close.

In fact, Iowa finished as the sixth seed for the Big Ten tournament. Even Nebraska had a better seed.

I was still optimistic heading into the first round. I mean, Iowa was playing Northwestern — the 11 seed. The Hawks have beaten them by 20-plus points each time.

What could go wrong?

Well, I don’t know what happened on that Thursday night, but it wasn’t good.

As each minute ticked away, I felt worse and worse about Iowa’s chances.

By the time the final buzzer sounded, Iowa played itself out of a chance at a Big Ten tourney title.

As I write this (Friday), the NCAA Tournament brackets have not been announced. All the experts predict Iowa is safely in the tournament. I’m not so sure. But no matter what seed they get, I’m not picking Iowa to win a game.

But even with the disappointment that is Iowa, I’m not going to let that bring me down. It is, after all, the most wonderful time of the year.

And for those of you who are going to pick a bracket for the chance to win a billion dollars, good luck. I’ll be rooting for you!

It’s time for Lent

Posted: 7th March 2014 by Aaron Hagen in Uncategorized

It happens every year.

It begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter.

Yes, I’m talking about Lent.

For my dad, a Lutheran minister, Lent was always a busy time. There were the extra services throughout the week. There were special things going on during Sunday services. And, of course, who could forget the sunrise service on Easter morning?

Granted, for me, Lent meant going to church a little more. When I was younger, it meant I could walk into the church with palms. Every year, we would be allowed to take some palms home.

As far as I can remember, we didn’t give up anything during the Lenten season.

A year ago, my friend Ryan called and suggested we give up pop — or soda, whichever you want to call it — for the Lenten season.

Sure, I love my Mountain Dew, but why not?

And sure enough, I made it. The whole season without a single drop of pop.

This year, we are giving it another try.

And while I know this isn’t how it’s supposed to work, we are giving ourselves one day off. The night of the YMCA cruise dinner. He and I will be reunited after many months and miles separating us. We know there will be soda being consumed.

Well, we decided to make up for it, we would start a day early.

At 11:59 p.m. Monday, I took my last drink of pop — Hy-Vee rootbeer.

I haven’t had any since. Not to say I haven’t had cravings. But I haven’t given in to them.

So we’ll see how the rest of the season goes.

Sure, I know it’s cheating, but I’m not going to let that detract from the accomplishment.

LOL

Posted: 19th February 2014 by Aaron Hagen in Uncategorized
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As soon as I heard about the comedy show at the Worthington Event Center, I was excited.

Comedians?

In Worthington?

Really?

But yes, it happened.

A week before, I bought tickets for myself and my girlfriend, Kelsey. Sure, it was the day after Valentine’s Day, but I still figured it would be a good event for the two of us.

We showed up at the Event Center about 45 minutes before the dinner was to start. The crowd was sparse, and once we located a co-worker of mine, we had our spot for the night. I’m glad we went when we did. A few minutes later, the place was full.

I have to say, Hy-Vee did a great job catering the meal. A meal of pork loin, chicken, baked potato, spring salad and a roll was delicious.

Then, it was time for the comedians.

For the next two hours, it was almost non-stop laughing. So much so, in fact, that my cheeks were sore from the amount of laughing throughout the night.

I have talked to a couple people I knew from the event, and so far, the reviews have been positive.

And judging by the turnout, these events are needed in a town like Worthington.

According to the Event Center website, the place can hold approximately 500 people. Granted, on this night, there was room for a stage, bar and buffet area.

The rest was full.

According to Event Coordinator Jackie Tentinger, she had set up for 330 people.

She had to bring out more tables.

Yes, there were close to 350 people at the event.

It would be hard to find an event in Worthington that draws that many people.

I believe that means people want events like this.

Before the Event Center, there wasn’t a place to hold comedy shows. Or New Year’s Eve parties.

Now there is.

I am glad the community is supporting these events, and I can’t wait to see what Jackie and the rest of the people at the Event Center have in store.

I know one thing for sure, the next time they have a comedy show, I’ll be first in line for tickets.

It’s Olympic time

Posted: 9th February 2014 by Aaron Hagen in Uncategorized
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I love the Olympics.

Whether it’s the winter or summer games, I am glued to my television, waiting for the next star to be born.

This year is no different. With Friday’s opening ceremonies, we were able to learn a little about Russian history.

As the games are in full swing, I always revel at the athletic talent throughout the world.

Here’s what amazes me.

It’s that the games only come around once every four years.

Could you imagine? You work for years and years and you get one shot. Maybe it’s one routine. Or one jump. Or one pass at a course.

And that’s it.

For many, that’s all there is.

Granted, I know there are other competitions between the games.

But it’s not the same.

Could you imagine if the NBA only gave out one title every four years? Or if there was a Super Bowl, then three years without one?

As a Cubs fan, the motto, ‘There’s always next year,’ wouldn’t apply.

It’s no wonder why we see such emotion following competitions.

I can’t say that I have a favorite sport during the winter games. It’s always fun to watch such things like speed skating or bobsled. But really, no matter what NBC decides to show us, it’s just fun to watch as the best athletes in the world compete.

Even though we are only a few days into the competition, I know there is much more to come.

So, even if you aren’t into figure skating, or snowboarding, or luge, take a minute to appreciate these athletes. They are putting it all on the line for their country in hopes of bringing home a gold medal.

There are some great stories of triumph — and failure — and that’s what makes these games dramatic.

One of my favorite things about the Olympics is learning about the athletes who deliver that drama. Sure, you may know some of the big-name stars or the repeat Olympians, but it’s the new comers who make it worth watching. It’s the young skater making his or her debut in what will be a meteoric rise to champion that keeps me coming back.

So I invite you to follow along these next few weeks as these stories unfold. If you miss a night, that’s OK, we’ll have the coverage on the pages of the Daily Globe to keep you up to date.

And let’s hope when the games are over and the Olympic flame is extinguished, the U.S. once again shows its dominance on a world stage.