Stickin’ to the Stories
Alumnus Nick Daschel and a lifetime on the sports beat
By Kevin Miller, ’78
It’s hard to follow Beaver sports without reading a lot of Nick Daschel stories.
Daschel, ’80, covers football and both basketball teams for The Oregonian and Oregonlive.com, but doesn’t shy away from other sports when things get busy, sometimes writing as many as 15 to 20 stories a week. “You gotta be organized and know what’s important,” he said.
During his own OSU days, Daschel served as sports editor for the Daily Barometer and wrote for the Corvallis Gazette-Times. He graduated with a degree in agricultural economics, believing he’d have more career options and didn’t need a journalism degree to get a newspaper job.
Nick Daschel (second from left) with the rest of the Daily Barometer sports team in the 1978 yearbook
His first gig out of school was working as a loan officer in Portland. After clocking out at 5:30 p.m., four nights a week he took a second shift, working on the sports desk at the Oregon Journal until 1 a.m. It was a lot of hours, he recalled, and “was as far as I got in the finance world.”
He went to work at Oregonian in 1982 when it merged with the Oregon Journal, staying there until 1994, when he moved across the river to The Columbian in Vancouver, Washington. That lasted, he said, “until 2008 and the big collapse.”
Family-owned newspapers across the nation were already struggling to stay alive before the financial crash of 2008. (Advertising revenue plummeted 52% between 2006 and 2010, according to Pew Research.) The Vancouver paper went bankrupt, and Daschel and his colleagues lost their jobs.
“At the time, you don’t know to do,” he said. “But it was one of the best things that ever happened to me. I was able to pivot and get into some other things, and I feel like I’m in a way better place than I would have been if I’d just stayed at The Columbian the rest of my life.”
He picked up a trickle of writing assignments as he looked for opportunities to diversify.
“I had it in the back of my mind that I’d kind of like to control my destiny rather than have a newspaper control it.” The idea he settled on was to buy a defunct laundromat in an east Vancouver laundromat strip mall — “It was just a bunch of pipes” — and renovate it into the best, most modern clothes-washing spot in the region. Dozens of new washers and dryers later, he opened the first laundromat in the area that took credit cards at the machines.
“Within three or four months we were making money on it,” he said. He eventually worked himself back into a full-time gig at The Oregonian, moving into the Beaver beat in 2018. Then he had another career-changing moment.
“I think the tipping point was when I was standing in the Valley Football Center talking to Jonathan Smith, and my phone rings. I looked down and told myself not to take it, but I stepped away and answered. It was a woman who’d lost a quarter in a machine and by God, she wanted her quarter. I thought ‘I just don’t want to do this anymore.’”
He sold the laundromat in late 2020, once again immersing himself in his first occupational love.
“At the core, I like sports, which I why I got into covering it. But eventually you come to the realization that you just like telling stories,” Daschel said. “I wasn’t one of those guys that always had to have the big beat. I’ve covered the Blazers, the Kentucky Derby, I’ve covered pretty much everything, but I’ve found there’s lots of stories in high school sports that are great stories to tell, if you’re willing to be a reporter and talk to people. It’s fun when you can sit down with someone for 45 minutes and dig into their background and find out what makes them tick, and then be able to put it into 1,000 or 1,200 words.”
“Truly, what you want is for the team you cover to either be really good or really bad, because those are the best stories.”
He and his wife, Maureen Connolly, ’81, (a fellow Beaver and a high school chemistry teacher for 40 years) live in Vancouver. Their two daughters went to college elsewhere and are both teachers.
“I’m the black sheep,” Daschel said. “Everybody in my family is smarter than me.” He rents a room near campus in Corvallis from August through November, to cut down on his sometimes-brutal Vancouver–Corvallis commutes.
His Beaver roots have little impact on his writing, he said.
“I love Oregon State. Those four years were some of the best years of my life. I always tell my kids when I head down there, ‘Well, I’m off to God’s country!’ But you can’t root for the team you’re covering. Truly, what you want is for the team you cover to either be really good or really bad, because those are the best stories.”
His duties include a constant back-and-forth with readers on the internet. He doesn’t mind.
“Sometimes I have to lecture Oregon State fans on Twitter,” he said. “But for the most part I think Oregon State fans are pretty grounded. They’ve been humbled over the years. I don’t see Oregon State fans as being at all like Oregon fans.”
Asked to name the best OSU athletic contest he ever covered, Daschel didn’t hesitate.
“The best Beaver game I ever saw — and yes, it was a loss, but they played great — was the football game up in Washington in 2000, when they lost 33-30. That was one of those games when I kept saying to myself, ‘I wish I didn’t have to write about this so I could just watch.’”