Well, I’m off to a new adventure, leaving the Cream City after over three years here at OnMilwaukee.com. It’s been fun, very memorable, and full of fun people, places, drinks and food. On my way out, I thought I’d share with you some of my favorites in all of those categories – sports or otherwise.
We’ll start with the non-sports favorites...
Milwaukee old fashioned: Distil
Photo: Distil / Facebook
I can’t say I’ve had them at every place in the city, but I’ve tried a ton over the last three years – and hands down, the bartenders at Distil do it right.
Local coffee: Valentine
They’re all good, with their unique twists on roasting, but I was fortunate to drink Valentine’s blends every day, five days a week, for a long time at OnMilwaukee.com, and I’m definitely bringing a few bags with me on the way out.
Dish: Comet’s mac ‘n cheese
Photo: Comet / Facebook
I first tried this nine years ago when I began coming to Milwaukee regularly, and it was an immediate favorite. I tried food all over this great city, looking for a contender to knock off the champ. Nope, still undefeated.
Photo: Oscar's on Pierce/Facebook
Finding one was a challenge, seriously. I couldn’t find a suitable cheeseburger for years. Until I found Oscar’s (h/t to OnMilwaukee.com’s own Molly Snyder for that). I made sure to make it a regular stop.
Photo: Sanford Milwaukee / Facebook
What can I say? Sometimes, the best is just the best, and Sanford does it every time. You can sit for hours, talk, and course after course is just … unforgettable.
OK, some quick sports favorites...
Venue: Miller Park
Lambeau Field is a close second, but I appreciated that the press box has remained behind home plate, and it was always a positive work environment that, save for the random elevator issue, was easy to do my job in.
Athletes / coaches to work with
I couldn't pick just one, because frankly every team, every clubhouse or locker room, is a different dynamic. But these guys will forever stand out to me.
- Packers: Sean Richardson, M.D. Jennings, Marshall Newhouse, Jayrone Elliott, Mason Crosby.
- Brewers: Scooter Gennett, Logan Schafer, Mike Fiers, John Axford, Jim Henderson, Carlos Gomez.
- Bucks: Larry Sanders, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Zaza Pachulia, John Henson.
- Marquette: Steve Wojciechowski, Jamil Wilson.
- UWM: Rob Jeter, Kyle Rechlicz.
- The entire rosters and staffs with the Admirals and Wave. Seriously. Great crews.
I won’t cop out here and say "all of them," and I can’t say this was my "best" story – that’s for others to judge – but it is the one I had the most fun working on. From the very beginning, with source and idea generation, to tracking down and conducting interviews, to the writing and then after – when guys called, texted and emailed me their thoughts and thanks for the piece, it was a blast.
It was also one of the few stories I’ve ever done where once it spread nationally, others who were involved in that Finals contacted me with more information and wanted to be somehow connected to it, which necessitated a follow-up story. It was a blast to do.
Oh, lest I forget, this was also very exciting to put together because of the tremendous efforts of OnMilwaukee.com’s design and programming gurus, Jason McDowell and Nick Barth. This really broke the mold and set a new standard for sports journalism in Milwaukee.
Thanks to my beautiful and tremendously talented wife (and program director at FM 102/1), Michelle Rutkowski, the staff at OnMilwaukee.com, and everyone I dealt with – in person, through Twitter, on the radio or television – in Milwaukee for making me feel welcome.
We’re all from somewhere, we all go elsewhere, but Milwaukee will always be home.
Jim Owczarski is an award-winning sports journalist and comes to Milwaukee by way of the Chicago Sun-Times Media Network.
A three-year Wisconsin resident who has considered Milwaukee a second home for the better part of seven years, he brings to the market experience covering nearly all major and college sports.
To this point in his career, he has been awarded six national Associated Press Sports Editors awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, breaking news and projects. He is also a four-time nominee for the prestigious Peter J. Lisagor Awards for Exemplary Journalism, presented by the Chicago Headline Club, and is a two-time winner for Best Sports Story. He has also won numerous other Illinois Press Association, Illinois Associated Press and Northern Illinois Newspaper Association awards.
Jim's career started in earnest as a North Central College (Naperville, Ill.) senior in 2002 when he received a Richter Fellowship to cover the Chicago White Sox in spring training. He was hired by the Naperville Sun in 2003 and moved on to the Aurora Beacon News in 2007 before joining OnMilwaukee.com.
In that time, he has covered the events, news and personalities that make up the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Hockey League, NCAA football, baseball and men's and women's basketball as well as boxing, mixed martial arts and various U.S. Olympic teams.
Golf aficionados who venture into Illinois have also read Jim in GOLF Chicago Magazine as well as the Chicago District Golfer and Illinois Golfer magazines.