Your author, presenting with pride, the MVP trophy at the 2015 Tsumura Basketball Invitational, to McMath Wildcats' Jessica Jones. (Photo by Wilson Wong 2015 All Rights Reserved)
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A message from Howard: After 40 years, I’ll bring a new writing direction to Varsity Letters for the 2022-23 high school and university sports season!

NORTH DELTA –  Heartfelt greetings to all of you, my loyal, longtime readers.

It’s been five months since I decided to take a break from my writing life.

As was the goal from the very start, my decision to take sabbatical after 40 years of daily practice — first from my typewriter, and of course later, in front of my laptop computer — was to gain my truest sense of the kind of writing I both did and didn’t want to do as I hit the so-called fourth-quarter of my career.

Today, I can honestly say that while the time away has brought the kind of clarity I sought, it has also brought me to a crossroads… a place where I have to tell you, my loyal readers, that come the new fall season in September, I will be taking a big step back in terms of what has become my ‘regular’ writing and reporting at VarsityLetters.ca.

I have wrestled with both my love of reporting on the world of B.C. high school and university sports, and my desire to spend more time simply enjoying personal time with family and friends.

And within that challenge, one feeling has emerged prevalent: The desire to trade in what can best be described as ‘appointment journalism’ in favour of simply becoming a storyteller at large with the freedom to write — within a more workable life schedule — those stories which have always most inspired me.

A learned friend told me just the other day to focus on what is positive about this change, not what is negative… because I still have so much of my best yet to give.

I couldn’t agree more, but I am thankful for this advice because I surely needed the reminder.

So what will you be seeing at VarsityLetters.ca come the fall?

I will continue to work alongside my loyal employers at the Langley Events Centre as it pertains to my own Tsumura Basketball Invitational and everything that leads up to and culminates with the provincial girls and boys basketball championships.

I will continue to broadcast B.C. high school basketball, as well as both football and basketball at Simon Fraser and UBC.

I am, however, stepping away from the model of seasonal high school and university sports coverage, including football, rugby, soccer, track and field, cross-country and volleyball.

Your author filing a story via computer on a cold fall night in the parking lot at Abbotsford’s W.J. Mount Secondary School. (Photo by Wilson Wong 2022. All Rights Reserved)

All of that said, I am not going to stop writing.

I am still going to be calling on my trusted contacts in all of those sports any time I hear that there is a good story that needs to be told.

Although I will no longer be covering high school sports on a daily basis, it will remain a good story pitch away from reality, and I am not ruling out those days when I will call up a coach or player and write a feature story because in measured doses, it is a truly rewarding experience.

I am going to be 59 in October. I know that isn’t considered too old these days. Yet if I am glad these days to have at least one super power, it’s the realization that trying to cover this entire scene has simply become too much for me.

So while the postings won’t be as frequent, I take this latest plunge hopeful for what the future brings.

Four decades ago, in the fall of 1982, I enrolled in the journalism program at the then-Kwantlen College in Richmond with no idea of the kind of writer I wanted to become.

I can honestly say that for the first time in precisely 40 years, that is the same way I feel today as I look forward to the dawning of the fall season this September.

Time does nothing but pass, yet I can still feel, in these early days of August, the impending renewal that comes with each new class of high school and university athletes in our province.

And over the years I have found different ways to pay tribute to their spirit, whether it’s been through Head of the Class, the B.C. Recruits List, and the holiday-themed Difference Makers from my treasured time with the entire crew at The Province newspaper, or thorough the expanded web-only format of feature writing here at VL.

With certainty, I can tell you my love for that kind of writing will never change.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for the patience and understanding that I need to navigate through some tricky waters. You’ve all given me a lifetime of support, and for that I am forever grateful.

Howard

17 thoughts on “A message from Howard: After 40 years, I’ll bring a new writing direction to Varsity Letters for the 2022-23 high school and university sports season!

  1. Howard, I don’t have your skills to put in words the positive impact you have had on high school and varsity sports. Much gratitude that your gifts, have documented for many our journey through these years. It is great to hear you changing your focus to include you and your health and your family. I read everything you write and will continue to savour your words however and whenever they show up. Much gratitude for you. Sincerely Sue Macpherson

  2. Howard: Your ability to craft stories that describe so much more than just the game; your scribe work so enjoyable, informative and insightful. Always follow your heart. Keep on keeping on.

  3. Best wishes on your new direction Howard! You have done so much for high school , college and university sports you deserve a seat in the legislature!!! Best to you and yours and looking forward to your stories of courage, resiliency and success. We need more of this coverage in these trying times. Slainte !! – ‘Old’ Hugh MacKinnon – Comox, B.C.

  4. Congratulations Howard! You have a special way of writing that always showcases the best things about athletes and sports. It is obvious that each story is written from the heart with passion and respect for the sport and the players. You are a perfect example of journalism at its finest. You can’t fake your enthusiasm or your sheer joy of watching, reporting , interviews or recognizing achievements. Stepping back to reflect is a good thing. You have much to be proud of. We are happy to know you as a softball parent, coach and best of all friend. Wishing you and your family the very best today and always
    Larry and Moira

  5. Thanks for all your dedication and hard work. Takes a true lover of sport to do what you do. You are a great contributor to BC school sports and we’ve been lucky to have someone like you in our community.

  6. Thanks, Howard, for your many years of excellent coverage of high school and university sports, and good luck in your new ventures. Of all the sports writers I’ve read over many decades, only Denny Boyd and Jim Taylor were in your class!

  7. Thank you for all you have given Howie. You have brought light to many communities across the province and inspired many. Look forward to seeing you in the crowd over the coming seasons. With much respect and love.

  8. Great to have you back, Howard, and looking forward to all the writings you will be sending out in the future. You made a phenomenal difference in the coverage of high school, college and university athletics when you entered the scene so many years ago, and continue to be “The Man” in that regard. I believe you will be a first ballot BC Sports Hall of Fame inductee!

  9. You are a great story teller Howard, so much fun reading your stuff, you are a legend in the sporting world especially with the grassroots generation, thanks

  10. Howard it has truly been an honour to work with you over the years. Your passion is second to no one and I have loved reading what you have done for all the high school kids, programs, and sports. Thank you so much for everything you have done and will continue to do.

    Burnsie

  11. Howie.. thanks for continuing to share your special talented craft with all of us – in your own way. I so appreciate you sharing the process that got you to this place. Grateful for how you have brought sports and the athletes in those sports into our lives in the most human way. Can’t wait for your next story!

  12. So happy to hear you will be taking care of yourself and that you will continue to write as well as any and in ways that show how much you care for those you write about. It’s never been about Howard, but we have been so lucky that so much has been done by Howard Tsumura. So often the best are humble and you are a perfect example of that.
    You have done an incredible amount for sport and especially the young people involved in it and we can never thank you enough.
    You truly are a gem and we have been blessed.
    I am excited for you and look forward with great anticipation to reading where your new direction takes you. I know a whole sporting culture has had our lives enriched by you and happily that will continue to be the case.

  13. Howard. Thanks for sharing your new direction and look forward to many more outstanding features and shining a light on the local hs and university scene. But shocked, shocked that you , family and friends think you should cutting down on the 60 hour work weeks😊. Cheers.

  14. Howard:
    You say, “… my love for that kind of writing will never change.” Thank goodness because we readers clearly agree. Thank you Howard for reminding us all of
    ‘how special’ we were (or could have been) and for encouraging us with wonderful stories of our truly amazing young athletes. Please Howard, keep finding the energy to find the words because the Tsumura byline demands reading.

  15. Howard, congrats on your decision! Thanks so much for all you have done for high school sports. And, on a personal note, great work from a fellow Sands Scorpion and North Delta Husky! Hope to see you in a gym soon!

    Stephen

  16. Thank you Howard for all you have done to highlight high school and university sports in BC!! Special love for the interest and continual push to showcase female athletes and give them a platform and the recognition they deserve. Always loved your witty coverage of the Grizzlies. Who could forget, ‘hot winter nights’ of the worst NBA team in history, but the most fun. Take care and enjoy the rest of the summer!!

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