The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Opinion

July 14, 2013

Book research uncovers past century's vast athletic talent

With the summer months fading away, we’re nearing the end of our research for our sports book to be published in August.

The book will cover athletes and teams from Clinton, Prince of Peace, Camanche and Fulton high schools, ranging from the days of Duke Slater to today. We’re profiling these athletes through decades, splitting them into groups – 1960s and before, 1970s, ‘80s, ‘90s and ‘00s.

Just joining this community five years ago, it felt like a daunting task to highlight the area’s athletic successes over the past 100 years. My first-hand knowledge went back to 2008, so I was only missing about 95 years worth of history.

But through research, I’ve found that titles and championships aren’t hard to find in this area, making the cut to make the book one of the biggest challenges of any athlete’s career. When measuring up against Kenny Ploen or Dan Knight, one title may not be good enough to make the cut for a profile.

However, we are acknowledging every state champion athlete and team in the book. But only about 50 athletes and a handful of teams will register a feature story.

With doing a book like this, I’m aware that there will be debate. A strong argument that has already taken place in our newsroom is judging how to grade a person’s performance. How do you measure one athlete that shined in multiple sports, against someone who specialized in one and possibly garnered a pair of titles?

Take for example a pair of athletes in the 2000s – Drew Sikkema, of Prince of Peace, and Tyler Swanson, of Clinton. Sikkema shined in multiple sports, including earning a cross country title, to go along with second-team All-Herald selection in basketball, and participating in the state golf meet.

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