It was a bittersweet announcement on Wednesday that Joanna Chadwick will be leaving The Wichita Eagle.
Joanna has been reporting on the prep scene for The Eagle since 1996 and she brought unmatched enthusiasm and passion to the job.
She has taken a position with the Derby school system as a journalism teacher. I’m sure she’ll do great and the students will enjoy her because of her friendly, outgoing personality, not to mention they’ll have their minds filled with wisdom.
Sports writers at newspapers or websites generally come and go. I know when I took the job at The Sentinel in 1979, it was my intention of being in McPherson for two years and then moving on.
Of course we all know how that plan worked out. Two years turned into four, four turned into eight, eight turned into 16 and 16 turned into 32, with one more year added as I finally stepped down after 33 years. I entered a new phase of my career writing online and I have never regretted the decision for one second. In fact, I find it much more enjoyable.
There aren’t many who last at one paper or website for more than five years, much less 20 like Joanna or coming on 42 for me (when you include my days as a cub reporter in Independence).
Sports writers enjoy getting together at events, talking about the industry and their place of employment. Newspapers, of course, have been greatly declining for years as the media game has gone toward the Internet and instant information at the click of a mouse. I still think people like the feel of a newspaper in their hands, but a lot of papers have cut days, staff and the size of the paper used to print it on. The game isn’t like it was when I started.
There’s no question Joanna’s departure at The Eagle will be greatly felt as she was perhaps the state’s top authority on high school sports. Sure, the paper will move somebody else into her slot but she had a special flair. She really got into the video aspect, as everytime she covered a game in McPherson she would come equipped so she could post video along with her stories, be it shots of the student sections or interviews with coaches.
Joanna was a staple during the McPherson midseason basketball tournaments, be it the McPherson Invitational or Mid America Classic. I believe she truly enjoyed the hospitality she received and also liked covering great basketball. While she would maybe be here only one or two days of the tournament, I always looked forward to catching up with her when she was in town.
I’m guessing with Joanna’s children getting older, she wanted to spend more time with them and her husband. Her new job with give her some semblance of a normal schedule and she won’t be out on the road covering events and trying to meet deadlines. She’s going to have time to stop and smell the roses and just be a fan.
Joanna was hardly an “oldster” among Kansas sports writers. That’s reserved for old dogs such as Bob Davidson, Rick Peterson, Ken Corbitt, Bob Lutz and myself. But more and more the old guard is drifting away. It’s a young person’s game. I see that when I cover games with sports writers half my age.
I’m glad that KSHSAA finally righted a wrong when she was named the 2016 Oscar Stauffer winner for sports writing for the first time. It was an honor long overdue, just like KSHSAA needing to induct McPherson’s Carol Swenson into its Hall of Fame, which certainly has to happen sometime soon.
I wish Joanna the best on the newest chapter in her life. She’s definitely going to be missed from our little circle.