You Don’t Know Joe
We’ve known Chicago Sun-Times columnist Joe Cowley for almost 25 years, going back to our days together at Kent State working in the sports department of the school newspaper, The Daily Kent Stater.
Those were fun times as we busted our asses for three-plus years, working to figure out where our careers were going to take us and how we could break into the sports writing business. Along the way we also worked hard to change the way The Stater handled its sports coverage.
We shared the football and mens’ basketball team beats and, not content to settle for adding a basic quote from the Sports Information Director to wire copy, we traveled to every away game, something that previous staff members rarely, if ever, had done. We toured all the exotic locations the Mid-American Conference had to offer, from Muncie, Ind., to Mount Pleasant, Mich., and all points in between. There were also trips to Morgantown, W.Va., Raleigh and St. Louis.
Some of the best times were covering the MAC mens’ basketball tournament, which was held at that time in Cobo Arena in Detroit.
We also pushed each other to be better writers and picked up writing awards along the way. Joe, admittedly, racked up a few more, most prominently winning the William Randolph Hearst Award for sports writing in 1990.
It was during those car trips, crisscrossing Indiana, Ohio and Michigan, that we really got to know Joe. Funny, opinionated and passionate about sports, we never doubted that somehow, someway, Joe would make it as a sports writer.
The thing is, even then, not everyone got Joe’s sense of humor, mainly because not everyone took the time to really get to know him.