Wednesday, November 30, 2016

It's amazing how connected we are via Social Media.

I was talking to a friend whose 17-year-old son, a high school senior, is being recruited to play college football. Although he has been invited to visit several NCAA Division I schools, none have offered him a scholarship ... yet.

A Division II university, did offer him a scholarship. The father's response? I hope you already sent out a tweet about it. The goal of the tweet wasn't just to share the good news with the senior's friends, family and followers, but to let those other schools know there is potential confidential for the young man's athletic skills.

I had to chuckle at this whole premise. Back in the day, when I was being recruited to play collegiate volleyball and basketball, I received letters in the mail and phone calls from coaches. I still remember the time I was on the phone with a coach, and call waiting chimed in. I asked to be excused to take the other call, thinking it was my sister (this was pre-caller ID and cell phones). It was another coach calling to recruit me, who didn't appreciate it when I asked to be called back because I was on another call with a coach. I guess the oops on my part was admitting who was on the other line!

Today, there may still be snail mail contact letters, but email, Twitter, recruiting websites, and all of the video options available today certainly make the process I went through seem antiquated.

Who won my recruiting war? I played a year of volleyball at Northwest Missouri State University. I loved my teammates, but the coaching wasn't up to par. It's definitely a situation of "I wish I knew then what I know now." But NWMSU had one of the best Division II journalism programs in the country (and still does!), so I stayed for the academics.

That's the other piece of advice I've given my friend's son - you're probably not going to play football beyond your college years (despite my sister hoping to ride his "gravy train for years) - so be sure that you choose your college for the academic program you want to pursue as much as for the football program.

So next time you see a tweet that an athlete has been offered a scholarship, there's probably more to the message than what you would think.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

It's a busy time of year for the National Federation of Press Women - membership renewals will begin and the online Communications Contest will soon kick off. Stay tuned for more information!

But before we go there, this is my pitch/reminder/plea for everyone to go vote on Tuesday, Nov. 8.

I must admit that one area I don't miss about no longer working in the newspaper industry is the length of elections. As an Iowa resident, I can attest to the fact that elections last too long. Have Hillary and The Donald been at it for two years or three? OK, we've been down to those two major party candidates for only several months now, but before that, we had a plethora of potential presidents parading through our state.

In addition, there are always local and state races that deserve our attention. The election can't all be about the race for the White House.

Like me, you are probably ready for the election to be over and for America to move on, whether we have our first woman president or first millionaire reality TV competition show host as president. Either way, it's our duty and honor to vote. In the immortal words of Nike, Just Do It!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Every once in a while, something on Social Media will drive me crazy.

Case in point: while scanning my Twitter timeline, I noticed @SherryPollex was having to defend her tweets and social media promotions.

What has been Pollex's main focus the past two years? Fighting ovarian cancer for two years after her diagnosis at age 35.

I started following Pollex's fight because I was a fan of her boyfriend, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver .

They have fought ups and downs on and off the track, and have been an inspiration to almost everyone. I say almost everyone because a mean-spirited Twitter user accused Sherry of self-promotion.

What that person must not have been aware of is that Pollex and Truex have been longtime supporters of the fight against childhood cancers, which is the core of the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation, @MTJFoundation.

Pollex became even more of an inspiration to me after we thought my sister Julie had ovarian cancer. It was diagnosed a few days later as colon cancer that had spread to the ovaries. We were happy because colon cancer seemed far less scary (code for more survivable) than ovarian.

Then, just a few months ago, our only "girl" cousin in the Hoffman family, Becky, was diagnosed with stage 2 ovarian cancer. Like Pollex, she shaved her hair off before it inevitably would fall out.

Pollex recently revealed a short hairdo as her hair has begun growing back. I'm looking forward to seeing Becky with her hair back, too.

Thanks for being an inspiration by sharing your story on Twitter and Social Media. Don't let the haters ever stop you!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Have you been following the controversy of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick?

If you're not familiar with the situation, I am surprised. If you watch TV, cruise the Internet or delve into Social Media, you've been inundated with the story.

I just have to ask: where do you draw the line on freedom of speech and expression? This guy decided he would protest racial inequalities and issues by not standing during the National Anthem of one of the 49ers' preseason NFL games. He was resoundingly trounced throughout all of the aforementioned mediums.

Just two weeks ago, U.S. Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas raised ire by not placing her hand over her heart during the playing of the National Anthem during the gold medal ceremony for the U.S. team. She was also chastised for her lack of patriotism.

I ask again, where do we draw the line of how to properly express or protest something within our rights? I don't have the answer. I'm not sure anyone does.

But I do have this challenge for Kaepernick: aren't there better forums to protest the racial issues you are trying to bring into the spotlight? Could you have done something different, something that wouldn't offend those who have served their country? They paved the way for you to have the freedom to be a professional football player in a country where you can express your opinions.

As my millennial friends would put it: "Just sayin'."

Monday, August 1, 2016

I had a wonderful time celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Colorado Press Women last week. President Sandy Nance was my fabulous host.

The CPW organizers had the perfect program - remembering the history and memorable moments throughout the years - and learning more about the women who founded the group.

Please enjoy these photos from Tuesday, July 26 - the actual 75th anniversary. Congratulations to CPW, and here's to 75 more!

Happy Birthday to Colorado Press Women!

The pitch from NFPW to Colorado.

The meaning of a word can certainly change over time!

CPW COA Carol Anderson (left) listens to COA Director Sandy Graham during the COA award presentation.

President Sandy Nance holds the proclamation.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Are you like me - frustrated by what is happening in our country and our world?

I will pray for Nice, Dallas, Orlando and every other place that needs it. I also pray for peace, for our country and our world.

As long as someone out there doesn't believe that #AllLivesMatter, we will have discord and violence, whether it be racially, religiously or politically motivated.

Do you remember the immortal words of Rodney King, way back in 1991? "Why can't we all get along?" He was referring to racial riots after he was beaten by Los Angeles police officers. It's amazing when you realize that happened 25 years ago.

What is incredibly sad about that is similar incidents are still happening today. For better or for worse, we may be hearing more about these issues because of Social Media. For better, we have new worldwide forums for discussion and free speech. For worse, we have those who use these platforms to spread discord and inflame others.

In 25 more years, who knows where we will be in America and across the globe - in a state of peace or in a state of chaos? Only time will tell. Until then, if you're like me, just keep praying.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

My, how times have changed. I checked Twitter this morning, as I often do in the morning, to see what's trending.

In Britain, they weren't worrying about #Brexit. Instead, Brits were bemoaning their men's soccer team loss to Iceland (yes, Iceland) in the Euro tournament.

But what caught my attention more was the outpouring of thoughts and support for Pat Summitt and her family.

Summitt coached Tennessee women's basketball for what seemed like forever as she was only 22 when she was hired for the job. Her accomplishments in the sport are almost without comparison.

But she was forced to step down several years ago when she was diagnosed with early onset dementia - Alzheimer's type. She passed away overnight at age 64.

My mother, Loverta, was about Pat's age when she began showing symptoms of the same disease. In fact, my sister Julie and I can confirm first realizing the severity of the illness when mom attended the 2005 NFPW Conference in Seattle with us.

Of all things, I had scraped my leg on the rope playing sand volleyball and the scrape had become infected. I don't know how many times I told mom that it was a scrape from volleyball, but she kept insisting it was poison ivy. This happened repeatedly during the trip.

Before we left for Seattle, mom had loaded one of those weekly pill containers to take on the trip. Fortunately we noticed it had disappeared and packed another one before leaving for the airport. To this day, that set of pills has never been found. We don't know where mom put it; we had even checked the trash cans throughout the house.

My mom passed away in 2012 at 74 - far too young - and the same is true of Summitt, a great lady and a great coach.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Memorial Day weekend 2016 was memorable for me in more ways than one.

First, my sister and I took Thursday and Friday off work. We spent Thursday flying to Charlotte, N.C. As our flight left Omaha late due to storms, we arrived at Chicago Midway in time to dash from the B Terminal to Gate A4A in the A Terminal. If you've never been to Midway, this gate, and Gate A4B were Southwest Airlines' solution of how to fit more gates into an airport where there is no more room to do anything. Southwest's flight attendants even felt the need to explain why the pilot hit the brakes so hard when we landed ... it's OK, we get it - short runway.

On Friday, we toured the NASCAR Hall of Fame, which was delightful. As fans of NASCAR since cable TV brought the races to all segments of America, and not just the South, in the 1980s, we were thrilled to tour the Hall. Even if you are not a race fan and find yourself in Charlotte, the tour is well-worth the $20 or so admission price.

On Saturday, we rested up so that Julie would have enough energy to last for 400 laps during Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

On Sunday, we were treated to lunch with two of our favorite NFPW friends, Meg Hunt and Rebecca West, who made the drive up from South Carolina. We let them select the restaurant, and they did not disappoint.

Peace -N- Hominy,, provided just that as well as some delicious BBQ. If you're in the Charlotte area, I highly recommend stopping by, but be aware that the post-church crowd on Sunday will fill the joint.

It was also a reunion of sorts for me with Meg and Becca as I first met them at the 1995 NFPW Charlotte Conference when I was a first-timer. They became lifelong friends after agreeing to take me to Charlotte Motor Speedway while they were out running errands one evening even though they aren't race fans. And they had just met me. Yet I was privileged to meet Meg's sister Susan and nephew Jacob, a mere babe at that time, during one of our stops.

That has made them my lifelong friends, even if I have never been able to convert them into race fans!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Investment opportunity for tax refunds

Does your pocketbook feel a bit heavier right now?

If you are like me and are paid every other Friday, if you are paid on the same Fridays that I am, April was a treat: we received 3 paychecks.

Now, this is a bit like taking from Peter to pay Paul in that the first paycheck we receive in May isn't until the month is basically half over, But why worry about that? If you received an income tax refund - federal and/or state - you have even more extra money available right now.

If you're ready to spend that money, I know just the event! The Kansas Frontier conference, NFPW's annual soiree, will be held in September in Wichita. If you are ready to apply some of your hard-earned money, that opportunity is coming soon.

Hotel registration at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Wichita Airport is already open at
I've also heard from a few members who have already booked their flights. One was able to get one-way tickets to and from St. Louis for $49 each thanks to Southwest Airlines.

Soon, registration will be open for the tours and conference itself. So I'm encouraging everyone to hold on to that dinero for just a little longer so that you can spend it on your trip to Kansas!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Making sense of the 'Madness'

If you're like me, my NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament is busted. It's been broken into pieces, stomped on, trounced and left for dead.

It's amazing how Americans seem to unite over their brackets, and by now, nearly everyone has lost their national champion unless they opted for Oklahoma or North Carolina. For the record, for some reason I chose Michigan State. Yes, that selection was the beginning of the end for myself and millions more.

I guess the tournament wouldn't have the "madness" factor if teams like 10-seed Syracuse didn't make the Final Four, and that's what makes it exciting.

With the growth of online contests, brackets have become a popular way to decide the best-ever this or that. I had a unique thought - let's turn the presidential campaign into a bracket contest. Who would encompass the Final Four? Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz?

What would the tiebreaker be? Who wins Florida? Well, I guess we've been there and done that where a presidential election is concerned.

Monday, February 29, 2016

NFPW debuts new YouTube Channel

I am often asked about being a member of the National Federation of Press Women, and this is especially true when I am introduced as the national president. Usually, the focus is on "Women." Most folks want to know if the group is just for women.

I am always pleased to tell them that NFPW is open to all professional communicators - men and women.

My affiliate, Iowa Press Women, has had a tradition of gentleman members, although we do not currently have any. Bruce Miller of Sioux City was a longtime member, perennial contest sweepstakes competitor and was Iowa's Communicator of Achievement nominee back in the late 1990s.

The other interesting time to explain that the organization is open to men and women was for the annual High School Journalism Contest. Not only could female students enter, but the guys were welcome to as well. I'm sure more than once an honor winner thought it was "weird" to win a "Women's" award, but hopefully they realized it was "cool" too.

This brings me in a round-about way to a great video from NFPW Membership Director Tiffany Ervin. She brings us the male point of view courtesy of Illinois Women's Press Association member Tim Libretti.

Check out that video on NFPW's new YouTube Channel:

Thanks to Tim and Tiffany!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Four years.

That timeframe is what we have to wait from one Leap Year to the next. It is also the magic number between each edition of the Winter and Summer Olympics. In the U.S., it’s how often we hold presidential elections.

Thanks to the latter, my fair state of Iowa has enjoyed the national spotlight – at least the national political spotlight - for the weeks leading up to the Feb. 1 Iowa Caucuses. When an incumbent is running, the focus isn't as intense because only one party has to determine who its candidate will be. Media attention has been high as Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton currently hold slim leads.

Yet which candidate from what party is leading in the polls in the run-up to the Caucuses is losing center stage to none other than Mother Nature. She could throw a wrinkle into this year’s Caucuses because the forecast is calling for about a foot of snow across much of the state.

I tuned in to CNN today to catch pre-Caucus coverage, and low and behold, there was the weather forecast among the poll numbers.

No matter what the weather situation, one outcome is always the same. After wrapping up the results of the Iowa Caucuses on Tuesday, the media will move on to New Hampshire. That's just fine. We here in Iowa will see you again in four years.


Monday, January 25, 2016

A brave, new blog world

After a number of starts and stops, I have finally launched my blog. I might have achieved this sooner but I kept running into a stumbling point ... what to name the darn thing!

With a bit of inspiration from watching a Serena Williams tennis match, I decided on Match Point. For those who may not be sports aficionados, match point is the potential match winning point in a number of sports, including tennis and volleyball.

It is important to note that just because you or your team reaches match point, victory is not certain. In fact, the opponent could score one point to tie and then another to gain match point against you.

I also hope that I am able to make a point or two via the blog, so the title has multiple meanings.

At any rate, thanks for reading and joining my blog journey!