Sports Writers Reflect on Time at FDN

Celebrating Frank "Doc" DiRenna's farewell party are, from left, Dave, Monica, Doc and Joe. (Photo by Steve Yablonski)

Frank DiRenna

I remain thankful to this day that the four owners gave me the opportunity to kick off the sports coverage at their exciting new adventure.

Will always be grateful to Joe, Monica, Dave and the late, great, Donald Bullard. I miss him to this day.

It was a pleasure to work alongside radio and TV legend Dave Bullard on the editorial side of things.

I sure do miss those days.

Happy 20th!

I enjoyed our festive holiday parties.

Celebrating Frank “Doc” DiRenna’s farewell party are, from left, Dave, Monica, Doc and Joe. (Photo by Steve Yablonski)

Len Senecal
My first exposure to Fulton Daily News came when Dave Bullard and Don Bullard (former mayor of Fulton) visited my journalism class at Bodley High School. They spoke to the students about writing articles in what would eventually become RaiderNet Daily.

In the late fall of 1999, Dave Bullard asked me for recommendations for someone to do some part-time sports writing.

So, I decided to recommend myself for FDN, covering Fulton and Hannibal sports teams. I was comfortable with this after having worked for seven years as a sportswriter for the Watertown Daily Times along with working as the advisor of the school newspaper at G. Ray Bodley High School.

One thing that really stood out to me from the beginning was the immediacy of it all.

Dave Bullard taught me how to post my own articles, so I took great pride in being able to cover a game and then have an article that people could read within an hour or two of its completion.

That may seem commonplace now, but in 1999-2000 it wasn’t happening locally.

People started to realize that the articles would be up right away, and they seemed to like them.

I also liked the fact that I could tell opposing coaches to check out my stories on the internet.

I recall a hockey coach complimenting the fact that my article about his game wasn’t totally one-sided toward Fulton. Certainly I always wanted the Raiders and Warriors to win (it’s much more fun writing about a win) but I was taught years earlier that covering both sides of the story is critical in journalism.

I was already very familiar with the Fulton teams, players and coaches since I had worked at Bodley for more than 10 years at that time.

I quickly got to know many of the Hannibal coaches, players and some of the fans who were always most gracious with their time and really made me feel at home.

I’m from a small town (Alexandria Bay) so I know first-hand the pride a community takes in its schools and its teams, and I was glad to be able to contribute in my small way.

Josh Shortslef, who later went on to pitch professionally, was a senior that year, and it was exciting to cover the Warriors as they won the Section III title in basketball and advanced into the state tournament.

When spring rolled around I recall covering his first baseball game of the season, a no-hitter at Cato-Meridian, and how Coach Pete Rossi dealt with pro scouts and their requests throughout a strong season for the Warriors.

The Hannibal girls also had some really good teams in volleyball, basketball and softball and I think the girls won a championship that year as well.

That summer, or maybe a year later, Josh returned to the area to pitch against the Auburn Doubledays in Single-A baseball.

It was a magical night for one of Hannibal’s top athletes as he turned in a gem of a performance on the mound and left the game to a huge roar from the crowd.

The emotion and unpredictable nature of sports are part of what has always drawn me toward them. It was great to get a chance to write articles for such an appreciative audience.

It would have been nice to have continued doing this, but I found that I was burning the candle at both ends due to my job as a high school English/journalism teacher at GRB.

I did, however, write a weekly sport column, The Senecal View, a year or two later, which was great because they let me write about anything I wanted.

After that my journalism students really took off and RaiderNet Daily became a full-time labor of love.

At one time, I had a staff of nearly 30 students, broken into two classes, and they produced some great work.

I always appreciated the way FDN was more than willing to post the students’ work and RaiderNet became a greatly anticipated and appreciated part of Fulton Daily News.

As I always told the students, people from throughout the country and even other parts of the world saw their (students) work.

We once received a letter from a Fulton grad who was stationed in Japan who complimented their efforts.

Others have told me that retired Fultonians along with many living out of town and out of state, eagerly looked forward to reading RaiderNet.

Additionally the many exchange students who wrote for RaiderNet were able to share their work with their friends and relatives throughout the world, all because it was part of what we once called “the world wide web.”

The Fulton Daily News was a great addition to the local media scene because it was able to really focus on Fulton and Hannibal, later expanding to include Oswego as well.

I am really proud of a former student like Mikalya Kemp, who did great work for Oswego County Today.

I am honored to have been a part of the 20-year history of this trend-setting online publication.