The Valparaiso Victory Bell has long been the culmination of a conquered goal. Whether as the Crusaders, or now the Beacons, Valparaiso athletes have raced to the bell after achieving victory and the sounds have echoed down Union Street. Ringing the bell hasn’t been limited to just athletes. Valparaiso students line up on graduation day to cap off their academic journey with a hearty pull of the chain.
While the Victory Bell represents a satisfying ending, today it marks a beginning on my own journey. I’ve been covering Valparaiso athletics in some capacity for more than two decades. I started as a broadcaster with WVUR-FM reading morning sports reports when I was an undergrad at Valparaiso. That led to announcing games alongside the Voice of Valparaiso Athletics, Todd Ickow. I filled the pages of The Torch, Valparaiso’s student-run newspaper, with columns, game coverage and human interest stories.
My journalism career began in earnest in 2005 when I was hired as a sports correspondent by the Northwest Indiana Times. I spent the last 17 years traveling the Region while covering nearly every sport imaginable. I still stand by the fact I was the only person to attend both a triathlon and a monster truck rally in the same day.
Working with the NWI Times has been a highlight of my life. I grew up on newspapers. When I was a child, I’d walk a half mile to the closest newspaper vending machine so I could get my hands on all the news that was fit to print. I spent years memorizing stats and filling scrapbooks with articles. I beamed with pride, and a little bit of ego, every time I’d walk into Family Express in Valparaiso and would see my byline in print.
I also grew up on the internet. I’m in that age group that remembers the innocence of an analog world while understanding the benefits of a digital world. My mom signed us up for America Online on Sept. 24, 1994. This day stands out to me because I watched Kordell Stewart beat Michigan with a Hail Mary in one of the great plays in college football history. I read about the game later that night on my computer. It sounds silly to type out now and my journalism students laugh at me, but the idea that I could read about a sporting event on the same day and didn’t have to wait for the morning newspaper absolutely blew my mind. It was a game changer.
It’s 28 years later and it’s time to change the game. Last month I walked away from print journalism. I rang the bell on my time with The Times and I’m ready for a new journey. I may no longer be a print journalist, but I’m still a storyteller, and there are plenty of stories to be told.
The Victory Bell is a subscription-based newsletter that will focus on Valparaiso University athletics. I’ll primarily focus game coverage on basketball and football while also featuring the rest of the athletic department. The 2021-22 season has already seen the women’s soccer team deliver one of the best seasons in program history while the volleyball team captured the hearts of the entire campus community with its run to the NIVC championship match. Stories that may have never seen the light of day in the newspaper will be the lifeblood of this site.
As newspaper coverage has declined in the last several years (due to any number of factors), passionate Valparaiso fans have come up to me at the Athletics-Recreation Center asking if there was anything they could do to aid in the coverage. I didn’t have an answer until now: subscribe to The Victory Bell!
The Victory Bell is both a website and an email newsletter that will show up in your inbox. Game coverage stories will be free and the rest of the site will be behind a subscription paywall. The stories will include features, columns, exclusive Q&A’s, analysis and historical pieces. (I’m still in the process of figuring out where Union Street Hoops fits into all of this, but a podcast is coming in some form)
The cost is $5 per month or $49.99 per year (Sweet 16 percent off!). Substack also gave an option to invite Founding Members to donate more on the first year subscription should they feel so inclined. This is certainly not required, but I’m not going to turn down the option to get this venture off the ground as fast as possible. Founding Members will get a shoutout in a column and be in my eternal good graces.
In closing, I can’t tell you how excited I am for what is to come. If you’ve made it this far, you have a passion for Valparaiso athletics. It’s a passion that I understand and a passion that I carry in my own way. Maybe you’re an alum or a fan from the community. Maybe you’ve worn the Valparaiso uniform or coached from the sidelines. Maybe a relative of yours has rung the bell a few times in their career or maybe you’re a relative of mine and I’ve guilted you into subscribing. For whatever reasons brought you here, I hope you enjoy the ride.
Meet me at The Victory Bell.
This is just so awesome... happy to know you professionally and personally, Paul, and we're *all* happy you will continue to bring us the best coverage of Valpo Beacons athletics! Kudos to you in your new venture! [subscribed!]
Good luck with this exciting new sports writing adventure, Paul!