Youngstown…you’ve heard of it, right? But I doubt you know where it’s located. Well, maybe you’ve heard it’s in Ohio, but walk a couple miles east from Youngstown and you’d be in Pennsylvania.
Population: 66,000 and change. But the town’s dying. In 1930 there were 170,000 souls here. It’s been a steady decline ever since…a downward spiral for nearly 90 years. You’ve heard about the Rust Belt. Well, Youngstown has one of the bigger layers of rust. Yeah, we’re the county seat, but so what! The whole county is wasting away.
I grew up in Youngstown and still live here. In fact, I’ve hardly even gotten out of the county. My dad never made much money, and as the manufacturing jobs disappeared, so did a series of low-level jobs for him. After finishing high school, I was able to go to Eastern Gateway Community College since it didn’t cost all that much and I could live at home. But there was no way I could afford to follow that up at a 4-year college.
But you read this because you were interested in basketball. And what’s all this got to do with round-ball?
I wish I could say it was to tell you about my stellar basketball career. But hell, I’m only 5’7” tall. I thought I was a good player, though. So I turned out to make the high school team. The coach quickly dispelled me of my lofty opinion of my own talent and any dreams I might have had. So rather than play sports, I inhaled them vicariously….watching and reading about all kinds of sports and playing pretty much any video sports game I could get my hands on.
So is this about how I learned so much about the intricacies of basketball that I became a great basketball coach? Sorry, no way. I’m not that talented nor am I a masochist. Besides, my temper would result in me leading the nation in technical fouls, ejections, and enough fines to eclipse my salary.
While attending Eastern Gateway CC, I wasn’t even much of a student. I attended when I had to and did enough to get by with lots of C’s. But I did enjoy my journalism courses, and one of the journalism instructors encouraged me and made sure I wrote for the college newspaper. When she realized that I wasn’t going to be able to take any college courses beyond my 2 years at Eastern Gateway, she pulled a few strings with an editor at The Youngstown Vindicator to land me a job as a sports reporter for that daily newspaper (such as it is—like all newspapers readership and circulation are dying).
I guess the next logical question is...who am I? I’m Steve Porter. I’ve now been a sports reporter for 6 years and am still on the staff of The Vindicator. Not going to get rich, but I like what I do. I cover any and all local sports, but my favorite is basketball.
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