It's been close to month since Janell Hasselmann left The Daily Reporter to return to the area where she was raised, Lyon County. At the end of this week, her husband, Jeff, our longtime sports editor will join her, marking the end of a fantastic run.
Jeff came to The Daily Reporter about five years ago, leaving a career in landscaping to try his hand at sports writing. A firm believer in giving someone "that first chance," I extended the opportunity for Jeff to join our staff. It was a decision I have never regretted.
He took the opportunity and made the most of it, as he promised he would when he accepted it.
During his first year as writer, Jeff wrote a story which earned him the small dailies sports story of the year from the Iowa Newspaper Association. He would receive the award two other times during his run with the paper, and received additional nominations for both stories and column writing.
He helped me start Chalk Talk, our SMU Channel 3 local sports show, serving as one of our original three hosts along with myself and Tom Morse. So committed to the show was Jeff, he even came into work early one day, braving the crowds at the Clay County Fair to join us for a promotional shot for the show with the Minnesota Vikings cheerleaders.
The things that man would do to support the cause.
In the editorial department, he was a refreshing presence, willing to talk sports with anyone up to the challenge, and share a laugh to break up the tension.
There were many times I remember working late, and Jeff's young son Carter, would peer around the corner of my door to see if he could come in and hang out for a bit.
And I know Jeff had great relationships with his coaches. It was more than a professional conversation in most places, as he bonded with many of those he covered in and out of the newsroom.
Those bonds spread to many of the players he covered as well.
Jeff will be sadly missed, but I completely understand his transition. With young Carter getting to the age where he wants dad to play ball with him and begin taking on coaching responsibilities, this job is not terribly conducive to such extra-curricular activities. He knew it was time to put family in front of career and he made the best decision for himself, his wife, Carter, ... and the new one on the way. Cats out of the bag, the Hasselmanns are expecting number two.
So it's time for Jeff to focus less on Spencer area high school sports and target his growing family. That leaves a hole in our hearts for sure.
You see, we're a family, as dysfunctional as we may be at times. This week, we're losing one of our family members.