Steve Ranson has worn a variety of hats in dealing with student athletes around Nevada over the past half-century.
Newspaper sports writer and editor … radio announcer … coach … school administrator … teacher … and yes, as a father.
Those achievements were collectively recognized on Thursday night when the longtime Fallon resident was inducted into the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association (NIAA) Hall of Fame at the Peppermill Resort Casino & Spa in Reno.
“To be inducted in the NIAA Hall of Fame as a sports writer and editor and included in the company of such iconic media figures as Ty Cobb (NIAA Hall of Fame Class of 1992), Royce Feour (Class of 2011), Ernie Hall (Class of 1998) and Bob Stoddard (2002) is both humbling and reflective,” Ranson said. “Our jobs in reporting high-school sports in Nevada, though, would not have been possible if not for the hundreds of coaches and players we covered and interviewed over the decades or parents and their families who trusted us to either come into their lives via the radio or in the sports pages of their local newspapers.”
Ranson retired in July after completing a 30-year “impassioned community journalistic” career with the Lahontan Valley News.
“I have enjoyed the best of many worlds,” Ranson said in his one of his final columns announcing his retirement.
THROUGH THE YEARS
Ranson worked as a radio news announcer and play-by-play sportscaster for KBET Radio in Reno from 1968 through 1974, as a sports reporter for the Wells Progress newspaper from 1976 through 1983 and as the sports editor and editor for the Lahontan Valley News. Ranson’s reach into the high school activities and athletics realm extended beyond his contributions as a member of the media. Ranson served as the Student Council Advisor at Wells High School and had coaching stints at Wells (1976-1982, junior varsity head and varsity assistant for football) and Churchill County (1987-1990, freshman head and junior varsity assistant for football) high schools. Even since his retirement, he has continued to write for the LVN.
Joe Swabb has known Ranson since the early 1970s when was teaching and coaching at Wells High School.
“Steve demonstrated an outstanding ability to teach the writing process to his students while covering the athletic programs in the Wells Progress newspaper in the 1970s and 1980s,” Swabb wrote in his letter of recommendation to the NIAA Hall of Fame committee. “During Steve’s tenure in Wells, he provided our local readers with concise and informative articles relating to the school’s extracurricular activities, including boys and girls athletic events.”
Alan Kalt, retired Churchill County comptroller, has known Ranson for 25 years and followed Greenwave sports in Fallon throughout the years.
“During that period of time, I have watched him have a significant and positive impact on the youth of Churchill County through his involvement as a school teacher, administrator, coach, and most importantly as a sports writer and editor of the Lahontan Valley News in Fallon,” Kalt said.
“Recently, during a leadership summit held at Churchill County High School, a college student praised the community pride and support of the local newspaper to promote student-athletes and leaders in the high school. He specifically went on to say that LVN editor, Mr. Ranson, promotes all athletes, students and programs, not just the ‘Athletes of the Week.’”
There have obviously been many memories, too many to name them all, if you ask Ranson.
One of the more incredible stories, though, occurred on a frigid night on Jan. 20, 1979 in Wells. The undefeated Whittell Warriors had driven about 400 miles to play and won a spirited game; however, star Jim Summers released frustration afterward and slammed his right fist into the window of the girls’ locker-room door. Unfortunately, what Summers thought was plastic turned out to be a glass window and when he pulled his arm from the window, a piece of jagged glass ripped the underneath portion of his arm.
Wells football coach Steve Hansen and Ranson were volunteer ambulance attendants at the time, and though they weren’t on call that night, they were summoned to the locker-room after the accident.
“Steve and I grabbed towels to wrap them around the long, jagged cut and then secured the towels with athletic tape,” Ranson recalled. “We packed Jim’s arm in ice and kept the arm elevated while waiting for the ambulance. In the meantime, we were taking steps to treat Jim for shock. When the ambulance arrived, I accompanied the crew to Elko to ensure Jim was stable and that the bleeding had stopped.”
Summers, who had led all Northern 1A scorers as a sophomore in 1977-78, was transported to Elko General Hospital, a trip that took about an hour. Three hours of surgery followed and more than 100 stitches were needed to repair the injury.
“Later, the emergency room doctor said without our quick response in Wells and packing the arm in ice, Jim could have lost his arm,” Ranson said.
As for an incredible rest-of-the story, Summers came back for his senior season and despite being unable to shoot with his right arm due to nerve damage, worked on his left-hand shot and still led the Northern 1A in scoring during the 1979-80 season. (After a two-year recovery process, he went on to become a firefighter and retired as chief of the Rocklin Fire Department near Sacramento.)
Oh, and by the way, Jim Summers Sr., was in the NIAA record book at that time as the state’s single-game scoring record holder with 70 points for Douglas High School in a 1952 game.
Sports and journalism were a good fit for Ranson and his three children: Thomas, David and Stephanie.
While in eighth grade and high school, David photographed sports and wrote the occasional story. Thomas, a longtime sports contributor to the LVN for two decades, wrote in his recent column:
“My father is the definition of high school sports journalism and the audience was always on the sidelines with him. Readers could always depend on him because of his knowledge and connection with the coaches and players. His experience rubbed off with me when I started at the LVN and briefly with my siblings when my brother photographed sports and my sister helped “behind the scenes.” His family means everything to him, making it easy to treat the Fallon community as if it were his own.”