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home : sports : columns   May 24, 2016

10/1/2013 10:41:00 AM
LaChance: The Rocky story

Brandon LaChance
NewsTribune Sports Writer

Remember the first time an iconic sports movie such as Rocky or Rudy hit the big screen?

In midst of watching Rocky Balboa or Rudy Ruettiger defy all odds stacked against them by living out their dreams in the face of adversity, some viewers shed tears, others had their stomachs turn in hope, but all felt moved by the character’s acts of proving naysayers wrong.

My life will never be turned into a Hollywood blockbuster, although on Sept. 24, I had a film-like tear jerking moment of my own.

After nine years of writing as a stringer, correspondent and a part-timer — including two years with the NewsTribune — for newspapers and small blog companies, I was finally called with a full-time job offer.

As soon as I heard NT managing editor Linda Kleczewski say the words, “We would like to make you an offer,” I pumped my fist in the air like a white boy in a direct to DVD flick and wiped a few water drops from my face.

Full-fledged flash backs of shattering my face, ankle and almost losing my life in a car accident while enrolled at Mendota High School at the age of 18 swooped in like a whirlwind.

Somedays I walk with a limp and will always set off alarms at airports, however, I   can still walk and I hear I look good.

Those were followed by the remembrance of dropping out of Southern Illinois University two weeks before my senior year because a loved one passed away.

Two years later, I re-enrolled, made the Dean’s List and graduated in December 2010.

In flux would be an understatement in connection with the words finances or life direction after graduation.

Since I began part-time employment with the NT in August 2011, I worked eight other jobs — not all at the same time — in order to survive on my own and keep the writing dream alive.

Fast forward to July 2013 and I was one bad executive decision away from trading in my computer for a fork lift.

I decided I couldn’t throw in the towel just yet and quit Advanced Drainage Systems for Becks gas station in order to continue writing for the NT.

Kleczewski’s call makes it all seem worth it.
Let’s not think this is the fairy tale ending: I struggled, got the job and the story is complete.

I like to think this is only the end of the first movie — like Rocky. Rocky doesn’t win his first match with Apollo Creed - he simply puts his name on the map.

In my mind, the last nine years were like me hitting livestock in a meat locker. It was training to deliver the best possible sports coverage in the Illinois Valley.

Now, we’re working toward the next huge step in a journalism career.

What the next ladder rung will be, who knows? But I do know I’m more than happy to discover it while working with local athletes and coaches.

Some people live to win heavyweight titles or play for their favorite sports team, even  for only one play.

I live to write well-written stories a student-athlete or their family members want to showcase to everyone who walks through their home.

What I call a refrigerator moment.

Brandon LaChance is a NewsTribune Sports Writer. He can be reached at 220-6995, or at Follow him on Twitter @NT_LaChance.

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