Beth Bragg’s first article for the Anchorage Daily News was published in April 1986. It was a preview of the Alaska state high school girls volleyball tournament.
Her last article — for now, at least — was earlier this month, about the search for a new University of Alaska Anchorage hockey coach.
Beth retired recently after more than 35 years at the ADN. We’re in the process of figuring out a direction for sports coverage going forward. More on that in a minute. First, let’s talk about Beth.
In her decades writing for the newspaper and website, Beth produced 6,735 articles that carried her byline. Thousands more without her name. Those brief items in the sports section with the author “Anchorage Daily News”? Listings showing results of a local race or game? Beth.
Think about that for a minute. Thousands and thousands of articles, many produced on the tightest of deadlines. But Beth’s value and contributions to the community go far beyond that.
Regular readers, casual readers, anyone paying attention to sports in Alaska knows the breadth, depth, quality and volume of what Beth has done.
Consistently well-crafted and deeply human feature writing. Championing women and citizen athletes. Big stories, tiny stories. Robust, passionate coverage of Alaska events like Mount Marathon and the Run for Women. Traveling to cover FOUR Winter Olympics (Albertville, Lillehammer, Nagano and Salt Lake City).
But mostly, she was here for the community — year after year after year. The Iditarod. UAA volleyball. A summer mountain run. The Mayor’s Marathon. High school tennis, skiing and riflery competitions.
(Longtime readers will also remember that for a time she wrote a general-interest news column as well, turning her talents toward the broader city beyond sports.)
Beth’s work was the definition of sustained, high-energy, high-quality local and regional journalism. Small things, big things, middle-of-the-night things (really, I can’t tell you how many times I woke up to see that Beth had written and published an article at 3 a.m. about, say, Alaskans shining in a World Cup ski race in Europe). Deep knowledge of the community, and an understanding of so many of the things that make Anchorage Anchorage. And adapting as what we do changed over the years.
Something probably not apparent to most readers: Beth was a terrific story editor. Again and again, she helped others shine, gave support and kept things rolling. She’s a great teacher.
Anyway, Beth is already missed around here. Actually, missed doesn’t really cover it; she’s left a gap that’s going to be difficult to fill. It’s likely she’ll make an appearance in these pages or on adn.com now and then, but really, she’s retiring and her shoes are impossible to fill. So we’re in the process of figuring out how we move forward in serving readers and the community. Close readers already have seen we’re covering some sports topics less as we assess our direction; on other topics you may see no change. We’re figuring it out. Thanks for your patience.
We want to hear from you. What’s important to you with sports and sports coverage in Anchorage and beyond? What’s not being covered and needs attention? Email me.
If you have something you’d like to say about Beth and her amazing career here, consider writing a letter to the editor.
As always, thanks for reading.