Paper’s sports department racks up again

Paper’s sports department racks up again

Posted: Thursday, July 31, 2008 10:14 pm

Multiple writing, photography and design awards have been the rule for The Messenger’s sports department over the last several years. They still are. The paper’s widely-ac-claimed sports staff — led by veteran editor Mike Hutchens and longtime photographer David Fuzzell — added 12 more accolades to their lengthy list of such honors in contests sponsored this year by the Tennessee Sports Writers Association, Tennessee Associated Press Managing Editors and the Tennessee Press Association. Staff newcomer Kenneth Coker also fit immediately into the group as an award winner. Hutchens, who’ll begin his 26th year at the newspaper this fall, has now claimed 95 awards during his tenure, after winning five individual awards and overseeing two sections that were honored in their respective categories. He has supervised a staff during that time that has won more than 150 awards. The Messenger again competed against papers with up to 20,000 circulation, more than twice its size. Fuzzell, who has performed a variety of duties in several departments in his 29 years at The Messenger, garnered four picture-taking prizes for his work with a sports camera. He has now won 10 — five first-place — such awards in that particular role. Hutchens won first place in the TSWA’s Best Investigative/Series category for multiple writing entries in a messy saga that saw Obion Central hire a new football coach, only to see him resign three days later amid alleged unrest among some in the community that wanted a local candidate instead. A critique from a judge on the winning series of stories read: “Dove head first into the quagmire of the Obion County High football coach hiring fiasco and explained every filthy facet.” It marked the fifth time that Hutchens had won the top prize in that category in his dozen-year association with the state sports writer’s group. In the TAPME competition, Hutchens won first place in the Sports-Outdoor Writing competition for the sixth time for his story on the forced resignation of longtime South Fulton High School football coach Gwin Wood. It marked the eighth time he has placed either first or second in that particular contest. Hutchens also claimed third place in the Best Columnist, Best News Writer and Best Individual Layout competitions with the TSWA. The paper’s regular daily section and popular preseason football tabloid also won third place. It marked the 11th straight year that the football section has been recognized in the Top 3 in the state. Fuzzell’s spring 2007 photo of young T-ball batter Kyle Herrell entitled “Big Swing” was responsible for three of his four awards. The entry won first place in the Sports Photography in the TAPME competition as well as second in TAPME’s Feature Photography and TPA’s Sports Photography categories. Another photo of Union City basketball standout Cedric Allen slicing through two Humboldt defenders and tagged “Splitting the Difference” won first in the Best Sports Photograph in the TPA field. Both Fuzzell and Coker were also vital contributors to the Best Daily Section and Best Special Section third-place entries in the TSWA. Coker, with The Messenger a little more than a year now, was a valuable paginator, too, for both sections. He won second place in the “Best Headline” writing competition, vying against papers of all sizes. Among his entries were: “Daeron needs to ‘Act’ now for grid future” as the heading for the Fulton City running back who needed to raise his ACT score. Coker also submitted was “‘Nun’ better than Spurs to group of ‘religious’ fans” when detailing a group of San Antonio Spurs fans who were nuns. Published in The Messenger 7.31.08

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