Tinkering is in my blood.
My grandfather used to do it on his farm, fiddling with this tractor or that. My dad still does it on cars, which means his three-car garage : and his other three-car garage : and his yard : sometime resemble a used-car lot.
I have no such mechanical savvy. A good day for me is actually remembering to put gas in the tank.
Instead, I tinker with sports pages. While writing a well-crafted story is my favorite part of this job, a close second is sitting down with elements of a newspaper and trying to find a new way to package them for the benefit of readers.
Such is the process behind the page you now hold.
Soon after taking over as the high school sports editor here at the Journal-World, I began looking for a way to enhance our coverage of the 16 schools that make up our circulation area. Not that anything was wrong with what was done before - on the contrary. While journeying out on assignment during my four months on the job, I've encountered numerous players, coaches and fans who've expressed their appreciation for our coverage of the "preps."
But, as the cliche goes, if you aren't moving forward, you're moving backward. My bosses and I want to keep us moving forward. And so here we are.
Welcome to Preps Plus, our new weekly page devoted solely to high school sports. Starting with today's edition, our goal each Tuesday is to go beyond our already devoted game coverage and put together a page that captures many of the names and faces that make the city and area high school sports scenes tick.
What you see today is pretty much what you'll find each and every week when you turn to this page. My column on high school sports will find a home here. That way, we can keep the high school sports stuff packaged together and keep from scaring poor unsuspecting readers who just happen to stumble upon my frightening mug while casually flipping through the paper.
The highlight of each page will be a question-and-answer centerpiece story with an athlete or coach, a format that allows the featured participants to tell their interesting stories in their own words.
Here's what else you'll get each Tuesday. For city sports fans, we will choose a boys and girls "Athletes of the Week" based on performances from - you guessed it - the previous week. This feature will allow us to highlight the top efforts from athletes at Lawrence High, Free State, Seabury Academy and Veritas Christian.
Another element I'm particularly excited about is our list of weekly statistical leaders. For the winter season, this means compiling the best numbers for boys and girls basketball and wrestling. I know how much I liked seeing how I stacked up against the competition when I was an athlete, and I'm sure there are many athletes out there who feel the same way.
Finally, we'll include a weekly notebook to give attention to those items that might otherwise be overlooked.
Our hope is for this page to go over like gangbusters, become a must-read and result in the bean-counters giving us big raises because of it.
Then again, we are realists. So please help make the first two-thirds of that equation come true.