A former sports journalist.. has since traded in his media pass credentials..for a playbook and coaches gear.
We share the story of one Velva coach who’s experienced both sides of the playing field..by simply following his heart.
“Whenever I was a kid, I loved going to sports of all different types,” says 39ers Assistant Coach Mike Zimmer.
From basketball to baseball, or even football games, Mike Zimmer IS always showing his support. But of course, to be in attendance means you have to pay an admission fee.
Thankfully for Zimmer though, a couple of close encounters with sideline reporters gave him an idea that would both bypass that fee and set him up for his future.
“To be honest with you whenever I was in junior high, I figured that would be a way to get into games for free, I will just be a sportswriter because they all get into games for free,” So I kind of decided pretty early on that’s what I want to do,” laughs Coach Zimmer.
So he went full swing at it, Zimmer attended Dickinson State to perfect his craft and it wasn’t long after he graduated and landed his first job at the Dickinson Press.
“From there I went to Jamestown, to Aberdeen South Dakota, and then to the Minot Daily News, where I worked for two years in 97 and 98. From there I went to the Newspaper in Billings, Montana. I worked at the paper for 15 years and so I did 25 years total as a sports writer and editor.”
Just talking with Zimmer and reflecting on his 25-year sports writing career. He says his most memorable moment was covering Jamestown GREAT, Daren Ernstead.
“He was a 4 sport stud in Jamestown and went on to be a No.1 pick in the MLB draft and had a 15-year career,” tells Zimmer. “So I got to kind of see him from his sophomore year of high school all the way through to his pro career so that was definitely a highlight
But as the old saying goes, all good things must come to an end and for Zimmer, that meant putting his pen and paper down, to pick up a whistle and playbook to coach his kids.
Don’t be confused though, Zimmer still used that nearly 30-year writing career to his advantage.
“The thing that helped me kind of was talking to so many coaches as a sports writer, so you kind of got a feel for what it was like from their side of it and heard a lot about coaching from those guys,” says Coach Zimmer.
Now, years later as an assistant coach with the Velva 39ers, Zimmer says it’s always a good feeling to look back at where he started.
“I miss the memories of being a sports writer but it’s kind of fun now to see it from the other side like whenever I see people like yourself and newspaper guys whenever they come to the games it’s fun to chat them up a little bit and kind of know when the games over I get to go home and I don’t have to worry about deadlines,” smiles Zimmer.
Coach Mike and the 39ers are back in action Thursday against Bottineau at 5 p.m. in Velva.