Ben Grieco + his car

Pall-Times Sports Editor Ben Grieco and his 2013 Volkswagen Golf — the machine that’s gotten him to several away games both near and far.

A lot of miles have been put on a white 2013 Volkswagen Golf this fall. A good chunk of change has been spent on gas to get to numerous high schools around the section — and sometimes in the state.

Those miles started back in late July, when the Oswego Little League 12-and-under All-Stars were playing in Solvay in the District 8 tournament.

“What the heck else do I have better to do?” I asked myself. A 22-year-old, single sports reporter working for a hyper-local newspaper. As Oswego County Media Group Publisher Jeff Weigand has always said: “It’s for the kids.”

So when fall sports consumed almost every hour of every day of the week, those same thoughts crept around: “What the heck else do I have better to do?”

With four high schools in our coverage area — Oswego, Fulton, Hannibal and Mexico — it’s not always easy to get to all four equally. Especially when there might be games with a bigger priority: games between both schools, championship games, big rivalry games, or whatever else it may be. 

It gets even more chaotic when college sports up at Oswego State get involved in the mix.

As some sports start to dwindle away with post-season play on the horizon, there weren’t sports every night like in the middle of September. And some sports were playing in tournaments that were in Syracuse or somewhere else in Section III.

While in college, I always drove for the Oswego State men’s hockey team’s — and sometimes the women’s hockey team’s — away games. Wherever the Lakers were, I was usually there at a small table with my laptop and camera. 

Why would I change my personality just a few months removed from graduation?

So when it came to my first road game of the playoff season — a drive out to Central Square for the Fulton varsity girls soccer team in late October — without hesitation, I hopped in my car, popped “Paul V. Moore High School” in Google Maps, and hit the road. 

Since then, I’ve traveled a good amount for high school girls soccer, boys and girls volleyball, football and, yes, college hockey.

A majority of times on the road, whenever I went up to the coach for a few questions after the game, I was met with a, “Wow, I can’t believe you came out for this,” or “Thanks for driving out here for this,” or some sort of similar phrase.

And in those moments, when I was usually the only sports reporter there, the thought of, ‘Well, who else is going to do this?’ came to mind. This is something that I’ve been passionate about since my freshman year of high school. I’m going to give it my all. 

I don’t know too many people who would willingly drive four hours round trip to Ogdensburg Free Academy to watch a high school girls volleyball game, which lasted approximately and hour and 15 minutes. 

But did I have an absolute blast in my Volkswagen, seeing some parts of the state I had never seen before? You bet. Did I control my laugher when I saw a sign that said “CANADA — 25 MILES?” Absolutely not.

The Palladium-Times tries to be a strong face in the community, something that we in the newsroom have preached heavily since I started here in June. And when part of the community is making great strides in whatever it is — at least in my case, Little League, high school sports, or college sports — a community bands together and supports.

My support just comes in the form of words and photography. I’m fortunate enough to have those words and photos hit The Palladium-Times’ newspaper and website. As Jeff always says, ‘It’s for the kids…”

…Even if there are some extra miles involved.

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