Alumni ProfileJane Bos '86
Plain Pioneer

Jane Bos ’86 didn’t set out to be a pioneer.

“I’ve never thought about what I do or who I am,” Bos said. “I’m just Plain Jane from Hudsonville. That’s who I am and always will be.”

The Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA), for one, begs to differ. In January its representative council awarded Bos the 2007–08 Women in Sports Leadership Award. She is the first recipient in the award’s 19-year history not working as a teacher, coach or school administrator.

Since 1989, Bos has been the high school sports editor for The Grand Rapids Press—and the only female sports editor for a daily newspaper in Michigan. “I am certain I’m the only female to sit on the Associated Press panel that chooses all-state football and basketball teams,” Bos said, “and most certainly the only one there who has ever been pregnant.”

She’s won many awards for her writing from the Michigan Press Association and The Associated Press. The MHSAA’s executive director praised her “high level of professionalism and integrity.”

Working in a corner of the sports world that’s still male-dominated, Bos said mostly she feels like “one of the guys. But it is frustrating when, after a high school boys’ game, the other reporters just walk into the locker room to follow the story.”

Still, Bos added, the frustrations pale in light of the fun. “It’s such a cool job. I get paid to go to the games and have fun.”

Maybe not quite so much fun, she admits, when she started, fresh out of college, as a paid-per-story reporter. “No one sat down with me and said, ‘Here’s what you need to do.’ I taught myself how to keep stats. And I didn’t know anything about sports like swimming and wrestling. I just watched and asked questions and winged it.”

She winged it under deadline pressure. “A lot of times I’ll have 15, 20 minutes to get a story about an evening event in by the 10:15 deadline. Sometimes not that much time. I don’t think about it. I just do it. I think God gave me the grace to handle fire. But there are times I go nuts.”

She takes the pressure—not only of her own story deadlines, but also as an editor, of managing the work of 10 other reporters—because, she said, “I love to tell stories—best of all, high school sports stories.”

So how do you make the 50th basketball game of the season sound fresh, different from the rest?

“I pretend I’m talking to my 80-year-old Aunt Martha or my sister, Jackie. I don’t write the hard-box-score story. I try to make the story really personal.”

Her personal approach, Bos said, also makes some of her assignments “horrible. I had to write about an awesome quarterback allegedly accused of killing someone and about this great coach killed in a car accident. I’m not detached from what I write. Everything gets to me.”

Before she writes any story, but especially the hard ones, Bos prays. “God gives me the words, and I think He’s used the words many times to heal someone. I’ve had people tell me they’ve cried reading my stories. I’m still surprised people read them at all. I affect people like that? It’s overwhelming.”