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Steven M. Sipple: Feeling forever blessed to have been part of the Journal Star team | Column

Dave Wohlfarth apparently had an incredible eye for talent.

But he wasn’t perfect in that regard.

He definitely had a deep passion for the sports section of the Lincoln Journal Star.

During the 1980s, when there was both a Lincoln Journal and a Lincoln Star, he patiently performed daily red-pen reviews of the respective sports sections. If you were on staff at Wohlfarth, these reviews could either make you feel like the next Mike Royko or ruin your day.


Wohlfarth in 1987 (pretty sure it was 1987) hired me to work part-time on his team. Soon after, he had me cover events around town, including a state tournament women’s basketball game. In one memorable instance, when I was frantic on deadlines, I sent in a game story in which the wrong team was winning. Yes, it was published. At the top of the Journal sports page. Yeah.

I was obviously horrified. I thought my sportswriting career was over before it started. I quickly became serious enough about going to work on a fishing boat in Alaska to buy a brochure explaining how to start the process.

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I also applied for a truck loading position at UPS. I even had an interview and was turned down.

I told you Wohlfarth’s eye for talent was questionable. However, Dave’s dedication, patience and kindness, well, those traits are do not questionable. He kept me around the newspaper. He continued to provide advice and inspiration and criticism in red pen. His successor, Brian Hill, hired me full-time in 1990. The fall day Brian offered me the full-time job was one of the best days of my life. Thanks Brian.

Since 1990, I’ve basically worked a dream job. That’s not to say it was an easy job. Most writers will tell you that writing is hard.

Good writing is extremely difficult.

Sometimes it borders on pain.

This column is particularly difficult to write. After more than 30 years at the Lincoln Journal Star, including the last 15 as a columnist, I’m moving on to a new position elsewhere — one that will be announced in the coming weeks.

The decision to leave the Journal Star was excruciatingly difficult. As one can imagine, it was a decision-making process that went back and forth. Keep in mind that the Journal Star has been extremely good to me. Extremely loyal to me. Again, it was a dream job. There are so many people to thank that I couldn’t get all their names in one goodbye column. And, let’s be honest, most of my editors will probably tell you that I tend to write a bit wordy articles and articles.

So, I’ll try to be frugal here.

The athletic department, in my 30+ years, has always had an incredible team of workers. Always does. In recent years I have worked more closely with Parker Gabriel, Chris Basnett, Brent Wagner and Nate Head. Clark Grell, the sportswriter, runs a tight ship, just the way I like it. Yes, Parker’s recent loss to USA TODAY (as the Denver Broncos’ battered writer) is significant. It’s a rare talent. But the team remains exceptionally strong, and Clark’s hiring record is outstanding.

So why did I decide to move on? In short, I felt like I needed a different set of challenges. There were obviously other factors in the decision, most of which would fall into the category of uninteresting to most people. Also, I try to keep this column on the short side.

Let’s get to the basics.

Thank you to my colleagues for your encouragement, your dedication, your kindness and your sense of humour. Especially your sense of humor.

Thank you, Journal Star readers, for being so kind and loyal.

Thank you also for being so passionate and invested in Nebraska football and Husker athletics in general. Many of you literally know more about Husker athletics than I do. It made my job incredibly daunting, but the challenge fueled me almost daily.

The Journal Star is an excellent product and will remain so for years under current management.

I will forever feel blessed to have been part of the team.

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