By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Screenplays And Small Towns
Teresa Mug

A reporter, a doctor and a football coach are on the street talking …

Looking at this makes me think of numerous jokes that usually start with a priest, a rabbi and an atheist or something to that effect. The difference here, however, is that was the exact setting I found myself in during the Eighth Annual Support Oakdale School’s Fun Run a couple weeks back.

Small town living truly is something special for those who make the most of it and often times our professional and personal personas bleed into one another. Hence the setting that Saturday, as I was teased by the doctor who happens to know me (my family) personally and chose to heckle me in front of the football coach. It’s not his fault, like myself he lacks an edit button which I (and my family) find most endearing.

The beauty of the situation came when the football coach turned the tables on said doctor, giving him a hard time and we all had a good laugh.

As a ‘city’ kid, I still find myself feeling as if I’m living a movie versus real life on the semi-regular. I’m the worst at remembering people know who I am, be it through my work, my children, community involvement or all of the above.

That being said, this brings me back to the setting where our three paths crossed that Saturday, the SOS Fun Run.

I’ve shared in this space before the life-changing effect that simple race had on my life. To summarize, it was my attendance its inaugural year doing double duty as reporter and community member that I witnessed the emotion of a finish line as Shelli Ponce crossed and shared her weight loss journey with me. Little did I know, I would go on to do the same and take a few people along with me for the ride.

To the outside world it’s simply a small town fundraiser for our schools. At surface they would be absolutely right. But as the doctor, coach and I shared with one another that Saturday, there is little about this town that we do ‘small.’ The Eighth Annual SOS backed that up, earning close to $15,000 with 270-plus participants which will now all go back to our students and teachers. Not bad for a ‘small fun run.’

There’s more to it of course. The doctor’s wife happened to be on the board which presented the race. The football coach’s daughter smokes the one mile course each year, and then he hands out water from his driveway during the 5k. The reporter, well, she wanders around aimlessly chatting people up as if she were the hostess because in her spare time she enjoys running and considers this community event ‘home’ oddly enough.

Read like a Reese Witherspoon comedy screenplay? Yeah, that’s my point. That’s what I’ve learned is the beauty of small town living. Unless you actually live it firsthand, it’s only Hollywood that can appropriately capture it in a 2-hour film reel.

And then there’s the how? The why? The where do you come up with these things, that I often hear from friends after reading a column.

In this case, the kudos go to the football coach who happens to be great friends with the doctor and planted the seed. Both men support our local paper and shared they enjoy seeing the variety we share with our community. The doctor even stated he reads it cover to cover, which I know on good standing he does.

While coach had a much different angle pitched at the doctor’s expense for this space, I’ll leave it at this. This town is special. The people, the community, the lifestyle it affords each of us. That’s what community events such as the SOS Fun Run remind me. While I may have paid for a zip code that would bring my family a certain quality of life, in turn I’ve been rewarded by a certain quality of people.

Thanks gentlemen, hope to see you on the course next year … doctor.



Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at or by calling 847-3021.