Each week inside these pages, sports on the North Shore is covered with insight and flair.
Simple game stories of who scored are rarely written. The focus is on profiles and features of athletes and teams who distinguish themselves from their competitors.
Sports Editor Kevin Reiterman writes many articles while also concerning himself with story assignments, copy editing and layout duties. But the author of the lion’s share of these pieces is Bill McLean, whose work also graces other areas of the paper.
What sets Bill apart from his peers is his writing talent and dedication to his craft. While many of us forgo work over the weekend, nary a Saturday goes by when he’s not covering a sporting event and interviewing athletes. He’s often typing away in the office afterward.
Bill has covered high school sports since the 1980s, soon after graduation from Denison University. His recall is uncanny — he remembers sentences he penned for long-ago articles where most of us don’t even remember we covered the story. Humble and unflappable, he is a treat to work with in the newsroom.
Recently, we found out that Bill was named as a finalist for a Peter Lisagor Award by the Chicago Headline Club. These awards are the best Chicago journalism has to offer and are often picked up by the biggest publications. Bill’s story about a senior football player for Highland Park High School — named defensive player of the year despite being afflicted with Crohn’s disease — was a moving, eye-opening account. As Bill wrote when the then seventh-grader heard the diagnosis, “You look at your parents, and they’re visibly upset. The cold room gets colder. Your reaction to the news is confusion because you had never heard of the disease and you have no idea how to spell it.”
Bill’s run for the award is extra special because he has been placed in the daily sportswriting category even though we’re a weekly publication, meaning the competition is that much better funded with larger resources. (Our illustrator Barry Blitt of New Yorker fame is also in the running for a Lisagor for the second year in a row.)
We’ll find out at a dinner in Chicago on May 8 whether our esteemed colleagues will be winners. Regardless, reaching the finals for this heavily competitive prize is an extraordinary achievement for both gentlemen.
Enjoy the weekend.
Editor in Chief