#MediaMonday – Richard Obert

Today’s #MediaMonday comes to us from the Arizona Republic, where Richard Obert has been covering prep sports for 40-plus years (that is NOT a typo).  He and I are often at the same high school football games on Friday nights or the same baseball games on spring afternoons.  Even though we may be at the same place, our paths don’t quite intersect as he is covering a high school sporting event and I am officiating it.

Richard, time to share:

In addition to covering prep sports, I also cover Grand Canyon University athletics and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League.

I graduated from Scottsdale High School in 1976, attended Scottsdale Community College for two years, before finishing out at Arizona State, getting a bachelor of science degree in journalism. I began with the Republic part-time in January of 1982 and was elevated to fulltime in December 1984.

I always liked journalism since I was in high school. I soaked up all the sports magazines but I thought I’d be a movie critic. Film was my first love. Then, I got a job stringing for the Mesa Tribune in 1981, during my last year at ASU. I had a connection from college who suggested I apply for a fulltime job at the Republic. That led to a job writing sports in the zones for the Arizona Republic in 1982.

This has never felt like work. Every day is new with new stories and a renewed energy to write them. I most enjoy telling stories about underdogs, the tragedy-to-triumph-type stories, miracles, how people have been able to achieve greatness despite the odds.

One of my all-time favorite stories to write about was Gilbert basketball player Tommy Hambicki, who was paralyzed from the waist down after leading his team to the state championship. How faith helped him get out of a deep hole and fight to find his independence.

It’s hard to pick the top three athletes I’ve seen or covered, but in the conversation are:

  • Desert Vista RB/WR/DB Bobby Wade (1998 state football title),
  • Cholla forward Sean Elliott (remarkable 1985 basketball season),
  • Corona del Sol forward/center Marvin Bagley III (only took his freshman year at Corona del Sol to know he was maybe the best high school player I had ever seen),
  • Greenway baseball player Tim Salmon and his brother Mike Salmon (incredible football and baseball player),
  • Brophy Prep RB Mike Mitchell (early 1990s),
  • Washington football/basketball star Carlos Artis (always smiling, always positive),
  • Moon Valley forward Richard Jefferson (incredibly nice guy, always saying hello to me before games and showing off some of the greatest dunks I’d ever seen).

My job has changed a lot over the years.  The internet has tried to kill the newsprint, but the internet also has helped get eyes on stories quicker than ever. And so many stories that never would have made newsprint can now be written.

When I’m not working I like working out. I like doing hot yoga. I like hiking. I’d go crazy without a physical outlet.

Yogi’s is my go-to restaurant because it is close to home and it’s mostly healthy menu items. Love all music from Sinatra to Santana, from the ‘40s to the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s hits.

A little-known fact about me:  I once worked as a bouncer at Dooley’s nightclub in Tempe, near ASU, in 1979 or ’80, during punk rock days when I worked an Iggy Pop concert.

To suggest human-interest story ideas and other news, you can reach me at richard.obert@arizonarepublic.com or 602-316-8827.  You can also follow me Twitter @azc_obert.

Written by
at Mar 14, 2022

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