Tom Shea, former Tehachapi News Sports Writer

The Roadrunner Connection
End Of An Era For Tehachapi Sports

Posted by Corey Costello. The Tehachapi News, on November 24, 2014

Some of you may have already heard this, but longtime Tehachapi News sports writers, photographers and local sports historians Tom Shea and Michael Duffy are leaving the newspaper business as the fall sports season concludes. It's a loss for us all.

Both of these gentlemen played a role in my career, as colleagues, sometimes mentors and oftentimes for just good conversation about local sports.

Many may not know this but Tom Shea is one of the reasons I ever got into writing. I was always good at it in my mind, considering a read a lot as a child growing up, but it was something Tom did during my sophomore year at THS that got the ball rolling.

Along with writing, Tom was a novice political cartoonist. He published one of his cartoon's in The Warrior (Tehachapi High's newspaper) in the spring of 1996 that didn't sit well in my craw, basically portraying coaches as not caring about the academics of their football players; very far from the truth.

Alex Robb was the newspaper advisor at the time and my photography teacher. He knew several of us football players were disturbed by this cartoon, and he encouraged me to write a letter to the editor. Call it self-service or call it ego, but when the letter came out and I saw my name in print I was hooked. A writer was born.

Tom and I went on to work together on the staff of The Warrior that next year, and we stayed in touch moving forward. Tom is a brilliant writer and is dedicated to his craft and the Tehachapi Warriors. Dedication like that simply isn't taught in schools.

When the school board elected to cut the journalism and newspaper programs back in the early 2000s they cut out the potential to create more writers like Tom. I guess the bottom line overrules common sense.

Duffy helped me get started as a sports writer, as well. While I was in high school and interning at the Tehachapi News, he showed me the ins and outs of not only writing sports, but shooting photos for them, as well. Some of the best photos I ever took came under his guidance. I know several others who can say the same thing since he's helped many get into this business. It won't be the same without his presence on the sidelines at Warriors events.

Covering the Warriors beat for the last few decades and change means both Michael Duffy and Tom Shea have covered a lot and dealt with a lot in that same time frame. They've heard every gripe from every parent, been the sounding board for frustration aimed at coaches, administrators and even players themselves. They both, however, have remained steadfast in their duties of covering the Warriors, Braves, Indians and more.

They've covered championships, winning seasons, losing seasons, rivalries and revelry. They've even had the time to catch up with some of us former Warriors from time to time as well. Printing a few kind words about our career development, too. Heck, Duffy even was the photographer at my wedding.

I don't think readers or anyone who consumes any form of media understands the dedication it takes to cover a team, write about a program or produce this type of work on a weekly basis. It's far more than attending a game and writing about it or standing around taking pictures. It's the time taken after the fact to make it entertaining and informative. There's also the personal sacrifice made on free time, nights, and weekends and so on. It's rewarding and maddening at the same time. Figure that one out.

This dynamic duo of the written word and visual art cannot simply be replaced. They didn't just report on the Warriors, they lived and breathed their content every week. Their emotions were seen in the words they typed, the photos they took and the presentation they put together in this publication.

This is the end of an era for the Warriors, similar to that of a retiring coach or graduating player. There's not a number to retire but instead a story to be told; the story of two great journalists who turned small-town sports into big time passion.

Now it's their turn to be the story. Well done, gentlemen and congrats on an unbelievable career.

COREY COSTELLOE, a Tehachapi High graduate, is Assistant Athletics Director for Communications for California State University, Bakersfield.

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