Occupation: Editor, Blount Today
The nicknames came about our first night putting the paper together here at Blount Today, and, as to which became “Goose” and which “Maverick,” it had nothing to do with who got the pilot’s seat and which the REO.
As told in previous Chat Rooms, there are only six full-time employees at Blount Today. On production nights, four of us - publisher Sherri Gardner Howell, graphic artist Tessa Bright Wildsmith, editor Lance Coleman and yours truly - work through to the morning, at which time the advertising staff - Marty Millsaps, Susan Stout - return to check the ads and help proof the paper.
On that first night, yours truly finished early, and our beloved publisher said I could leave early. I was genuinely stunned by the volume of work that still lay before Lance and famously blurted out: “I will not leave my wingman.”
The two-desk office Lance and I share immediately became a Tomcat fighter jet, and Maverick and Goose were reborn, Lance taking on the nickname Goose, because he thought actress Meg Ryan was the better looking babe in the film “Top Gun.”
Kelly McGillis, I countered, and thus, Maverick.
Goose has navigated an amazing course through journalism and other fields en route to becoming your editor. His first job after graduating from the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga was that of a school teacher, followed by a six-year stay at the Chattanooga Free Press in the late 1990s.
After the Free Press merged with the Chattanooga Times, Lance left to, as they say in the sports world, to explore other options, which included brief stints as an insurance adjuster, running his own one-mower, no-waiting lawn care service and working in a Lazy Boy factory.
“I was involved in an amazing staple gun fight,” he said. “I could have gotten fired.”
That would happen one stop later.
Working as an advertising copy writer, Coleman came up with a phrase chosen by a department store chain for a national blitz to sell microwaves. The “touch smart dial” was sure to unlock untold riches.
“Within six to eight weeks, they fired me,” he said.
The story had a happy ending, though.
“They had to pull it off the market because it kept catching fire,” he said.
Advertising’s loss proved journalism’s gain, Lance returning to the profession to work in Maryville as a daily police reporter in December of 2000.
Moving to a weekly newspaper from a daily isn’t something that is done without a lot of thought. “What I’ve learned is that Blount Today is what the industry is moving toward, a publication focused solely on what is happening in the community. Our stories range from positive features to thorny issue pieces sure to spark conversation and debate. That’s what is tough about the job, and that’s what makes it so gratifying.”
Production night at Blount Today still runs into the morning, and the demands are no less taxing than six years ago. So why do it?
“I just love it,” Coleman said. “I love the job. I love what I do and I appreciate the way people invite us into their lives.”
Here is Lance “Goose” Coleman:
What is your favorite quote from television or a movie?
“We can rebuild him. We have the technology. We can make him better than he was. Better...stronger...faster.” From “The Six Million Dollar Man.”
What are you guilty of?
“I’m awful at time management. I’ve been working on it for months now.”
What is your favorite material possession?
“It would have to be my condo. I’ve been blessed with a great place to live in the middle of downtown.”
What are you reading currently?
‘“A Grief Observed,’ by C.S. Lewis.
What was your most embarrassing moment?
“Let’s just say it is a bad idea to have too much ‘Wed Wine’ before a party where a friend is going to introduce you to a girl. When you fall asleep in the middle of a conversation 5 minutes after you arrive, it’s hard to recover from that.”
What are the top three things on your bucket list?
“Drive across the country, tour Europe, take a Windjammer sailboat cruise.”
What is one word others often use to describe you and why?
“I hope trustworthy or loyal.”
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
“Be more organized.”
What is your passion?
“My family and friends. I’m blessed to have a lot of them.”
With whom, living or dead, would you most like to have a long lunch?
“My mom. She passed away recently, and, while I know she’s in a much better place, it would be nice to see her one more time this side of heaven.”
If you could go back in time for a week, what time period or year would you visit?
“It would be really interesting to have been here during World War II because it seemed the whole country was unified.”
What is the best present you ever received in a box?
“I was a huge Star Wars fan as a kid, and I remember the UPS guy delivering my Millenium Falcon spaceship a couple days before Christmas when I was 9.”
What is the best advice your mother ever gave you?
“She didn’t really say it, she just lived it. She taught me and my brother to work hard and to be respectful of anyone, no matter who they were.”
Other than your parents, who has had the biggest influence on your life and why?
“I would have to say folks who pushed me to expect more of myself, including my elementary school principal Grace Kite, my track and wrestling coach Steve Henry, my first editor Kenny Sloan, colleagues like Anna Irwin and Steve Wildsmith, my best friend Bobby Stewart, John Huffman, my current boss Sherri Gardner Howell and my brother Wade Coleman. It seems those who pushed me made me better.”
Do you Myspace, Facebook or Twitter?
“Facebook. I just don’t update it very often.”
What’s the worst job you have ever had?
“I was an insurance adjuster for seven months between stints as a reporter in Chattanooga and here in Maryville. It just wasn’t for me.”
What was your favorite Saturday morning cartoon and why?
“I always loved Bugs Bunny and Warner Brothers cartoons. They were comical in ways kids and adults could appreciate.”
What irritates you?
“I really don’t like arrogant or condescending people.”
What’s one place in Blount County everyone should visit?
“Hanging out on Louisville Lake in the summer when it’s hot and hiking on any trail in the Smokies during the fall, winter or spring.”
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself at 18?
“Appreciate each day, manage your time better and be thankful.”
What is your greatest fear?
“Clowns and sharks.”
I still can’t quite get the hang of…
If you could do one impulsive thing, what would it be?
“Head down to the Caribbean for a month for an all expenses-paid vacation.”