By Steve Robinson | April 2, 2018 - 2:18 pm
Posted in Category: The Normalite

NORMAL – If someone had told Bryan Bloodworth when he entered Illinois State University as a freshman in 1974 that his life’s work would involve both writing about sports, and being part of a team’s administrative hierarchy, he probably wouldn’t have believed them. The same is true for when he was notified by a college friend that he would be among five new inductees into the Hall Of Fame of The Vidette, Illinois State University ’s student newspaper. The Vidette has been in business helping students learn the many facets of the newspaper industry since it was first published in 1889.

Bloodworth will be inducted in a ceremony April 14 at a dinner in the Circus Room of the Bone Student Center . Currently, Bloodworth, a Marshall , Ill. native, is working for WGLT FM, the University’s National Public Radio affiliate as a reporter.

When Bloodworth arrived at ISU in the fall of 1974, he had aspirations to learn how to get into coaching despite the fact that he was born with just one arm, his left. “I’d never thought about writing,” Bloodworth said. In high school, he was a team manager and would submit articles on games to the local weekly newspaper.

“The big thing about The Vidette was it paid work, and who doesn’t want money?” Bloodworth asked rhetorically. “And I went over and talked to them and got hired.” Once on staff, he started writing small sports stories about Club sports teams like Soccer and Rugby . He moved up to become the paper’s sports editor in 1976.

At the same time, he applied for a part-time writing job with The Pantagraph, the local daily, where he wrote on local sports. “The experience I got at The Vidette was why I was able to get on at The Pantagraph because it was hands-on experience,” Bloodworth said.

Bloodworth, 61, became sports editor of The Pantagraph, succeeding retiring Jim Barnhart in 1992, making him only the third sports editor the daily had ever had behind Fred Young and Barnhart. Bloodworth retired from the paper in 2006 after 30 years. From there, he went to work for the management group that ran what was known as U. S. Cellular Coliseum in Downtown Bloomington, home of a United Hockey League franchise and an indoor football team.

In 2010, he followed his boss at the time, Jerry McBurney, to Arizona to be part of the management team that ran a UHL team there. But six months later, team ownership changed hands and the new owners cleaned house dismissing McBurney, Bloodworth, and all their staff associated with the team.

Bloodworth returned to central Illinois after that and went to work for radio station WJBC AM. That lasted for five years. But now, Bloodworth is staying in radio thanks to WGLT. He has also had occasion to string for The Normalite.

Award Details: Bloodworth was nominated to the Vidette Hall Of Fame by a friend from those days known then as Laura Young, now Laura Young Samuels. Bloodworth said the two hadn’t talked in years but he received an email from her telling him she had nominated him for the honor. A congratulatory email from Vidette General Manager John Plevka confirming the news followed.

“I was surprised,” Bloodworth said about his reaction to the news. “It was kind of cool, and it’s humbling. I’m proud of it.”

“The Vidette is a great avenue for students,” Bloodworth reminded. He said that is because of the hands-on experience students get in all facets of producing a newspaper. “It gives you the everyday experience. You can’t learn that in a classroom.”

“I’ve never felt I’ve worked a day in my life when it came to newspapers,” explained Bloodworth, a father of three grown children, and grandfather of two children, with one more on the way. “It’s something I enjoy and I enjoy meeting people. And it’s never the same because every story is different.”

Donewald Fired By ISU Is Biggest Story: In addition to doing daily journalism, in 1998, Bloodworth co-edited a book with Roger Cushman, director of news and publications for Illinois State University, titled, “100 Years Of Illinois State University Basketball.” The book has a forward from former ISU player, All-American, and former broadcaster Doug Collins.

But the biggest story of Bloodworth’s writing career came in 1989 when ISU opted to fire head men’s basketball coach Bob Donewald after 11 seasons — three while the Redbirds were an independent team and eight as Missouri Valley Conference members – at the end of the 1988-89 season.

“It was a big controversy because Bob had his supporters, and then there were a lot of people who’d gotten tired of him and his ways,” Bloodworth recalled. “There was a division in town. It was a surprise. No one thought he would get fired. My life changed for about a month after that because every day, there was some story we were chasing.”

Bloodworth said he felt the Pantagraph’s sports staff did a good job on the Donewald story because “one day, one side would be upset with me, and the next day, the other side was upset with me.”

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