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Steven M. Sipple: Feeling forever blessed to have been part of the Journal Star team

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Steven M. Sipple

Steven M. Sipple poses for a photo in 2020.

Husker sports columnist

Steven, a lifelong Nebraskan, newspaper enthusiast and UNL grad, joined the Journal Star in 1990 and has covered NU football since 1995.

Dave Wohlfarth seemingly had an incredible eye for talent. 

But he wasn't perfect in that regard. 

He definitely possessed a deep passion for the Lincoln Journal Star sports section. 

During the 1980s, when there was both a Lincoln Journal and Lincoln Star, he would patiently perform daily red-pen critiques of the respective sports sections. If you were a member of Wohlfarth's staff, those critiques could either make you feel like the next Mike Royko, or they could ruin your day. 

Wohlfarth in 1987 (pretty sure it was 1987) hired me to work part time on his staff. Not long after that, he had me covering events in the city, including a girls' state tournament basketball game. In one memorable instance, while frantic on deadline, I sent in a game story that had the wrong team winning. Yes, it was published. Atop the Journal sports page. Yikes.

I obviously was horrified. I figured my sports-writing career was over before it started. I quickly became serious enough about going to work on a fishing boat in Alaska that I purchased a pamphlet outlining how to begin the process. 

I also applied for a job loading trucks at UPS. I even got an interview, and was turned down.

Told you Wohlfarth's eye for talent was questionable. However, Dave's dedication and patience and kindness, well, those traits are not debatable. He kept me around the newspaper. He continued to provide guidance and inspiration and red-pen critiques. His successor, Brian Hill, hired me full time in 1990. The autumn day that Brian offered me the full-time gig was one of the best days of my life. Thank you, Brian. 

Since 1990, I've basically worked a dream job. That's not to say it's been an easy job. Most writers will tell you that writing is difficult. 

Good writing is extremely difficult. 

Sometimes, it borders on painful. 

This column is particularly difficult to write. After 30-plus years at the Lincoln Journal Star, including the past 15 as a columnist, I'm moving on to a new position elsewhere — a position that will be announced in coming weeks.  

The decision to leave the Journal Star was excruciatingly difficult. As one might imagine, it was a decision-making process that went back and forth. Keep in mind, the Journal Star has been extremely good to me. Extremely loyal to me. Again, it was a dream job. There are so many people to thank that I couldn't possibly get all of their names in a single farewell column. And, let's be honest, most of my editors probably will tell you that I trend toward writing columns and stories that are a bit on the wordy side. 

So, I'll try to be frugal here.

The sports department, in my 30-plus years, always has had an amazing team of workers. Still does. In recent years, I worked most closely with Parker Gabriel, Chris Basnett, Brent Wagner and Nate Head. Clark Grell, the sports editor, runs a tight ship, just the way I like it. Yes, the recent loss of Parker to USA TODAY (as the Denver Broncos beat writer) is significant. He's a rare talent. But the crew remains exceptionally strong, and Clark's track record for hiring people is exceptional. 

So, why did I decide to move on? In short, I felt I needed a set of different challenges. There obviously were other factors in the decision, most of which would fall under the category of uninteresting to most people. Plus, I'm trying to keep this column on the short side. 

Let's just get to the bottom line.

Thank you to my colleagues for your encouragement, dedication, kindness and sense of humor. Especially your sense of humor. 

Thank you, Journal Star readers, for being so kind and loyal. 

Thank you, also, for being so passionate and invested in Nebraska football and Husker athletics in general. Many of you literally know more than I do about Husker athletics. That made my job incredibly daunting, but the challenge fueled me pretty much daily.

The Journal Star is an excellent product and will remain that way for years to come under current leadership. 

I'll feel forever blessed to have been part of the team.

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Husker sports columnist

Steven, a lifelong Nebraskan, newspaper enthusiast and UNL grad, joined the Journal Star in 1990 and has covered NU football since 1995.

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