Sports guys eyes opened to Iowa sports

Opinion
ETHAN LILLARD

I’m From Dallas City, Il, so I knew where Fort Madison was and could actually navigate the city with relative ease. What I could not do however, was tell you how good the football team was, how the baseball team was looking or who was all going out for the basketball squad this season.

Some of those questions I still can’t answer due to those seasons being so far away (I’m still working on meeting with the coaches), but what I can tell you is what I have seen from Fort Madison High School and the surrounding community has made me feel more excited than ever before for what the future holds.

Coming from rural Illinois, we had a football field surrounded by corn fields and basketball gyms that can only seat a quarter or so of what a 3A Iowa school can. So imagine my shock walking into Fort Madison High School and getting greeted by the bronze Bloodhound. Or walking into the cafeteria and seeing professionally hand drawn photos of each athlete that has made it to the state tournament for Fort Madison. Or when I walked into Baxter Sport Complex to realize the Hounds had some of the nicest facilities in the state to play on. (I know not all sports get played at Baxter, but still.)

The list of reasons why I was left in awe goes on and on, but still, going from Class 2A in rural Illinois to Class 3A in Iowa, I’ve seen a significant difference in talent level and the size of the schools’ facilities. Just yesterday I had the privilege of working from the friendly confines of Bracewell Stadium in Burlington, a place that initially had me feeling like I was attending a professional game.

When I was first asked about the prospect of covering Fort Madison sports, I didn’t know what to think. I had covered Hancock County sports (Illini West, West Hancock, Southeastern) for nearly four years and didn’t really know how I would adjust to a “bigger city”. I put bigger city in quotations because I realize many reading this will scoff at the notion that Fort Madison resembles anything that of a big city. But let me tell you, for a rural (somewhat) country boy, Fort Madison is the big time.

After a month into working for the Pen City Current, my mood about making the leap across the river has changed drastically. I now know the significance of the Big Blue Oval at Drake. I now know to bring gnat spray with me to Bracewell Stadium. And most importantly, I now know that I may be out of my comfort zone in a bigger market, but the opportunities and places you get to see and cover while in the bigger market really helps to broaden horizons. That goes for both those covering the athletics and the athletes themselves.

Whether or not the Fort Madison community or its athletes feel their town is “big time,” just know that this small-town boy is proud to cover the Bloodhounds and looks forward to the many programs’ continued success.

I’ve heard there hasn’t been a lot of success from Bloodhound athletics in the past few years, but from what I’ve witnessed in my short time in the area, Fort Madison High School athletics is on the rise. And whether they realize it or not, these “big city” athletes have a much greater chance of broadening their horizons on these bigger stages. Hopefully many of those involved in athletics get the chance to broaden their horizons even more past high school whether that be going on to a bigger college, moving to another country or provide local news coverage to an area they are completely unfamiliar with. #BrickByBrick

About Chuck Vandenberg 4702 Articles
Pen City Current and pencitycurrent.com are products of Market Street Publishing, LLC, a multi-platform media company delivering hyper-local news, sports and advertising information to Fort Madison, IA and surrounding communities.

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