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Sports reporters are on the road again

December 09, 2002|by MARK KELLER

Having survived another high school playoff season, it's comforting to know that working in the sports department during such a time is serving as training for a fallback plan.

Yes, if this sportswriting thing doesn't work out for us, we can always find a job as a tour guide.

From the time the state cross country meet was held on Nov. 9 at Hereford High School, members of the sports department logged more than 4,000 miles on highways and interstates in an effort to get a reporter to every major event that involved a local team.

Reporters and photographers traveled as far west as Frostburg and all the way to Salisbury on the Eastern Shore. Surely we all reached the 3,000-mile mark since our last oil changes much more quickly than we planned.

Somewhere, a serviceman is envisioning a caravan of sports guys driving into his garage in the coming days.

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Bob Parasiliti racked up more than 1,700 miles all by himself in November. That included six trips to the University of Maryland, one to Ravens Stadium in Baltimore and one to Wicomico High School in Salisbury.

It's not true that his SUV knows the way to College Park all by itself. Bob has to help maneuver it across South Mountain.

Had the Martinsburg football team beaten Parkersburg South last week and advanced to Saturday's state title game in Wheeling, Bob would have gotten to go for 2,000 miles in a 30-day period and an expense check that would come close to covering a mortgage payment.

Instead, Bob simply had a few extra bucks to put toward my Christmas gift. I turned in my list to him last week.

Logic would say that as the playoffs move along, it would become easier for us to cover the games because there are fewer and fewer teams at each step of the post-season.

Logic is wrong in that case. Games in the early rounds of the playoffs are generally concentrated in our area, but as the post-season continues and the games become more important, they take place farther and farther from our office.

Mapquest gets a workout on our computers during playoff time. The grooves on Interstate 70 are pushed a little deeper by the heavier traffic from our vehicles. Needless to say, fast food takes the place of most home-cooked meals.

Still, it's exciting to watch local kids vying for a state title, seeing their reaction when they win and - often more interestingly - their reaction when they lose.

I don't think any of us would trade the chance to see local teams playing at the highest levels against teams on that same level, even if it does mean spending time on the road equal to the time of the game itself.

Besides that, we've got to keep that backup plan in mind. Someone, somewhere could need a tour of the I-70 corridor someday.

Mark Keller is sports editor at The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, extension 2332, or by e-mail at keller@herald-mail.com.

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