Lone sportswriter covers Valley sports with love
May 22, 2017
There’s no place like home for Jeremiah Bartz, the Frontiersman’s long time sports writer. He graduated from Palmer, left the state for college, and came back to give his family the same quality of life he enjoyed in the small town of Palmer. Bartz took a job covering sports at the local Frontiersman newspaper, a job that turned into a career, which later became his life.
Journalism started in high school for Jeremiah Bartz with his English and journalism teacher, Sandi Johnson. Bartz said Mrs. Johnson is responsible for igniting his confidences and passion for writing. Bartz was in Johnson’s freshman English class when she approached him and asked Bartz if he would be interested in being a reporter.
Bartz was covering the Wasilla vs SoHi baseball game when he stopped to remember Mrs. Johnson, “She saw something in me and really pushed me to pursue journalism. By my senior year, I was editor of the newspaper.”
In high school, Bartz focused on biology and other science class. With his dad having a career in medicine, science was familiar to young Bartz but was never his calling.
Bartz continued on the route of biology into college at UAF and worked at the UAF athletic department for seven years. It was during his freshman year in college when he awoke and realized journalism was his niche.
“I was a double major in biology and journalism, and I was sitting in a biology class thinking, I’m wasting my time. I just want to hang around sports.”
In 2011, Bartz returned to the Valley, and found himself at a crossroads. Should he leave or should he stay?
Then “everything fell into place with the Frontiersmen. The Frontiersman sports writer had left, and they offered me the job. and I took it. That was 15 years ago,” Jeremiah Bartz said.
“Family was the big part[of the decision]. My parents still live in Palmer, and my wife’s parents still live in Wasilla,” Bartz said.
“I like the Palmer-Wasilla area, I wouldn’t live anywhere else in Alaska. I think it’s the best of both worlds. You have Anchorage just 45 minutes away and can be fishing in a half an hour.”
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But even Wasilla has its difficulties. Wasilla’s population has exploded, and with only one sports reporter for an area the size of West Virginia, keeping up with the demands can be complicated for Bartz. Yet, his love for being a sports reporter outweighs the obstacles.
Aside from being a sports reporter, Bartz also works at the local radio station as a sports broadcaster.
Bartz’s daily life can be chaotic covering sports for all schools in the district. To help with the task load and give back to the community he tries to take high school students under his wing and help guide them in the journalism career.
“I once had a kid who covered a Houston game for me, and he’s now reporting on professional basketball,” Bartz said.
Sports reporting can wear on the heart at times. Bartz’s hardest story to cover was the death of young hockey player. A hockey puck hit the young player in the chest and immediately stopped his heart.
“The worst part was talking to and hearing the memories of family members, friend, teams, and coach,” Bartz said.
Bartz knew from the beginning that he always wanted to be around sports, but especially football.
Friday nights find Bartz watching football with his undying love for football. He played football throughout high school. Bartz’s coach, Wasilla High’s current track coach and weight training teacher, Nathan Ford remembers him.
“I still remember him [Bartz] with his glasses under his helmet all fogged up,” Ford said. “It was about 1992, that little freshman was my lineman. He worked hard to get playing time. He was so dedicated to that team. He worked hard for other players to shine and I feel like he’s doing the same in his line of work now- working hard to write these articles about others so they can shine too. I have the utmost respect for him.”
Bartz looked away to watch a play from the Wasilla team and said, “There are days when I think what if I did take another route.But, I’m happy with what I’ve been able to do here in Wasilla. I just have a blast with what I’m doing.”