Nick Edson is one of the best. He has both a reporters eye and an infectious zest for life, traits which hes shared for nearly 30 years in the Traverse City Record-Eagle, Leelanau Enterprise, and County Lines, the in-house publication of Cherryland Electric Cooperative.
Nick has written for publications since the fifth grade, when he began writing weekly football and basketball roundups on Mancelona High for the Antrim County News. He won 11 varsity letters in high school, was president of the student council and editor of the high school paper.
Upon graduation from Mancelona, he attended Central Michigan, where he majored in education and journalism. He became sports editor of CM Life, the campus newspaper. Upon graduation he decided to eschew teaching for journalism, starting his professional career at Silbar Publications in Flint. Just three months later, in September 1976, he was hired by the Record-Eagle, where he worked until April 2000, including 18 years as sports editor.
Now hes collected some of the best of his columns from those publications in his first book, Beyond The Games.
A lot of my friends and family had been after me to write one, and last year I made it (writing a book) one of my goals for the year, said Edson from his office at Cherryland, where hes key accounts and communications coordinator.
So Edson went back to the clippings his wife and his mom had saved over the years, and started going through them.
The toughest part was deciding which ones to include and which ones not to, he said. Id written around 2,200 over the years, and put 50 in the book.
So are these the 50 best columns he ever wrote?
Yeah, I hope so, Edson said with a laugh.
Beyond The Games includes pieces as old as 1978 (The Monster Falls) and as recent as this past year (Father of the Bride). There and everywhere in between, Edson brings to life sports as a microcosm of life, from his upbringing in Mancelona, the jock son of a coach, to his role as observer of local and national sports, and especially as a family man, celebrating his role as son, husband, and father to his three children.
Despite the numerous famous athletes hes interviewed over the years, theres just a smattering of celebrityhood in the book. For the most part Edson focuses on local athletes and their dreams, wishes, beginnings and endings.
A PART OF LIFE
The book starts off soberly, with a column from 1992 on the death of a young woman from Bellaire, Heidi Steiner.
Death is a part of life, Edson said earnestly. Thats the hardest column I ever had to write. I cried when I wrote it, and then again when I read it. It took me five years to not cry. The death of a young person is always the most tragic.
That Edson was able to capture the sorrow of the young womans family and friends without being maudlin is indicative of his skill as a writer. That he was able to still celebrate her life is indicative of his spirit.
Thats really the key to the book, the celebrations of life, whether its a well-used piece of athletic equipment (The Glove Will Always be with Me) or his parents selling the home he grew up in (Goodbye to a Great Stadium). Whatever the topic of the column, the real point of it is that life is to be celebrated, whether its the milestones of a childs life or the ways in which sports influence us all.
In keeping with that spirit, Edson says the best part of the entire process has been when he gets to dedicate the book to someone he knows.
The biggest kick is doing the dedications, he said. Ive had a chance to put stuff there that I wouldnt be able to say to people face-to-face.
That was especially the case at a book-signing he did in his hometown of Mancelona. When the doors opened people poured in. I never heard Nicky so much in my life, he said with a laugh.
With 2,150 columns left to choose from, might he do a second volume?
Well, Ive thought about it, he admitted. When I got done, I thought, Geez, that wasnt so bad.
Wasnt so bad? Thats hardly the way to describe a book that vividly illustrates universal truths and brings to life both days gone by and days yet to come. Whether youre a longtime fan of Edsons writing or not a sports buff at all, Beyond The Games offers cheer, insight, longing and tributes to people and places that touch us all.
Beyond The Games is available at Cherryland Electric, the Leelanau Enterprise, the Cottage Bookstore in Glen Arbor, Horizon Books and Borders Books and Music in Traverse City.
Ross Boissoneau is a regular contributor to the Express who had the good fortune to work with Nick Edson for five years at the Record-Eagle.
The mysterious Harley Sachs writes again
Harley Sachs, a frequent contribu-tor to the Northern Express on sub-jects including technology, hu-mor, ethics and life in the Upper Peninsula, has published a new book.
My third Rose Plaza cozy mystery, The Mystery Club and the Hidden Witness is now out and available, Sachs writes from his winter home in Portland, Oregon. Drawing on my own experience as manager of the employee gift fund, this mystery revolves around the crooked gift fund manager who happens to be in the federal Witness Protection program. The mystery club members dont know hes a crook and the mob wants him dead.
Through the years, Sachs has published a number of mysteries and science fiction novels, including Ben Zakkais Coffin and A Troll for Christmas at Zumaya Publications, a Mystery Club series at Wings ePress, and Scratch--out! from Fire Mountain Press.
His latest mystery/suspense novel is available for $11
from the publishers web site at