The Friday night fire drill

By Leah Traxel

Friday nights in The News Tribune’s sports department are just like any other night, until the phones start to ring.

The calls are from high school football coaches all over the Seattle, Olympia, and greater Tacoma area calling in their game scores.  Any other football Friday would have 15-18 games.  Tonight, it’s the first round of their postseason, and there are 32 games.

They don’t call it the Friday Night Fire Drill for nothing.

You can understand why, since the games don’t end until 9:30 or later, and then there’s only two hours before deadline for the writers to pick out highlights and top athletes, write up game summaries, and lay out pages with articles from reporters that went to the games, and that’s if the coaches all decide to call on time.

Around 10:30, the atmosphere changes.  Colleagues who laughed and joked two hours ago are now barking at each other for missing assignments.  The tension is palpable as pages are filled, printed, edited, rearranged, and printed again.  Incredible amounts of ink and paper are used, and now the call takers are frantically placing calls to errant coaches that forgot, and double-checking various statistics along with the spellings of players’ names.

At 11:30, deadline hits.  The page layers throw up their hands as they send in their final proofs, and the writers take a big sigh of relief.  They might not be completely pleased with what they produced, but there’s no time to dwell on it now.

Next Friday is already approaching.

Categories: Other

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