Get to know assistant sports editor Craig Yuhas: HRC was friendly; Secret Service, not so much
Editor's note: As coronavirus sweeps the globe, shutting down so many entertainment options including sports, we thought this would be a good opportunity for you to get to know a little bit about us. Up today: assistant sports editor Craig Yuhas.
►1. I’ve always known I wanted to be a journalist since I was a little kid. I figured it would be my way to stay up-close and personal with sports. I used to cut out photos from Sports Illustrated, tape them onto a piece of paper and write my own stories. That’s how it all started.
►2. I went to Crestwood High School in Dearborn Heights (not in Dearborn, common mistake). We don’t have a storied history in athletics in over 55 years of existence, but we had three people that reached the pinnacle of professional sports: Gary Wayne, who had a six-year career in the major leagues, Pete Stoyanovich, who kicked in the NFL for 12 seasons and Chris Tamer, who might be the only NHL player to have played on teams (non All-Star) with Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky.
►3. I played varsity baseball, golf and basketball at Crestwood. My sophomore year, I made an All-Area golf team in a local paper that was composed from about seven high schools in Dearborn Heights and Dearborn. I looked back at the story a few years ago and recognized the guy who wrote it: our Wings beat writer Ted Kulfan. He said it was the first story he had ever written.
►4. I went to the University of Toledo on a partial golf scholarship. My game went downhill during my sophomore year and I got cut, ending my career before my aspirations to play on the PGA Tour really matured. My handicap used to be good. Now, my handicap is my job.
►5. Turning point in my journalism career: My junior year at Toledo, I had taken a bunch of communications/journalism courses but had yet to write any stories for the school paper. My late father, a mechanical engineer at Ford who was as no-nonsense as they come, called me one day and asked when I was going to start writing for the paper. I gave him some lame answer (in reality I was big chicken, afraid to go to anyone there to ask to start writing) and got this response (swearing omitted), “WHAT AM I PAYING FOR YOUR COLLEGE FOR!!?? GO START WRITING SOME STORIES!!” I never wanted to disappoint that guy. Message and kick in the rear received.
►6. People that know me now can’t believe I was ever shy. My personality break-through happened shortly after I started working at the school paper when I met guy who I affectionally call “Loc.” My mom used to love “Loc” because he truly brought me out of my shell. Yes, “Loc” comes from the word “loco.” His relative, “Four-Foot Loc,” is even crazier.
►7. Turning point in my journalism career, part 2: My senior year, Toledo hired Nick Saban as the head football coach. Yes, that Nick Saban. He took a group of highly talented, but underachieving players and won 8 of his first 9 games, despite an ultra-conservative offense. After a brutal one-point home loss in week 10 against Navy, I wrote a column two days before the season finale that called him out for this lack of imagination on offense. He opened up the offense in that final game (I was always thought it was because of that column) and put 40+ points in a win over Arkansas State. Two days later, he called me and wanted to talk. It was a one-sided conversation. He never yelled but he basically told me I didn’t know what I was talking about. I never backed down from what I wrote, because the stats backed me up. When I got off the phone after the 10-minute “conversation,” I felt like if I could hold up against that guy, I could hold up against anyone. Thirty years later, it looks like it worked out for both of us. Well, maybe for him a little more.
►8. If I could’ve wished for one thing in my athletic career to come true, it would’ve been to be 2-3 inches taller (I’m 6-2) so I could’ve been a 2-guard and played Division I college basketball, my all-time favorite sport. When I watch a game, I love teams with outside shooters. To this day, I love going outside and shooting in the driveway for hours. Playing in The Masters would be second.
►9. When I was in college and for a while after I graduated, I was a bellman at a Radisson hotel in downtown Toledo. During the middle of the 1992 presidential campaign, Bill Clinton and Al Gore stayed at the hotel (in the presidential suite on the 15th floor, of course) for one night. I worked the entire night of their arrival and after sleeping about two hours, I hit the wall the next morning. Sometime around 8 a.m., I was on the 7th floor waiting to go up to 8. The elevator door opened and in the elevator were one of our hotel security guys, five secret service men and Hillary Clinton. They looked at me, wondering how the door opened (they had a key to take them right up to the 15th floor without the elevator stopping -- oops). I walked in and Mrs. Clinton, as friendly as could be said, “Good Morning!” I replied, in my sleep-deprived state, “Good morning Mrs. Clinton.” The secret-service guys were in a panic, not knowing anything about me and I was so tired I couldn’t really process what was happening. SECURITY BREACH! The elevator went up one floor and I started to step out. Mrs. Clinton said to me, “Have a great day!” I turned around and said the same thing to her, still trying to figure out what happened.
►10. I was a Detroit News paperboy for six years, a part-time/stringer for a year and a half for The News just after college, and this August will mark my 25th year at The News as writer/copy editor/manager. A total of 32.5 years as an employee of The Detroit News. Wow, I’m old.
►11. I’ve been blessed to have a lot of good, solid friends. The friend that I’ve known the longest — The Jip — is the best storyteller of the group. He used to play in the Buick Open pro-ams with a group from work and without a doubt, some hilarity would come out of it every year. He would call me about a minute after he left Warwick Hills to spin it. Here’s the best one … he played with Fred Funk in one of the last years of the tournament’s existence. Funk was great, very personable to everyone in the group, but one guy in The Jip’s group named Bruno caught his attention from the start. Bruno, an awesome guy but maybe not the best player you’d ever see, was an easy target for criticism. By the 16th hole, Funk saw something he wanted to share with Bruno.
Funk: “Bruno, I’ve been watching you all day and I know what your problem is.”
Bruno: “Really? What is it?”
Funk: “You have a LOFT problem.”
Bruno: “A LOFT problem?
Funk: “Yeah, Lack Of (bleeping) Talent.”
Everyone in the group erupted in laughter, including Bruno. Saw Bruno this past summer at a wedding for one of The Jip’s daughters. He still tells that story like it’s a badge of honor.
►12. My three kids all do pretty well in school but when it comes to doing papers, no matter the subject, they usually use me as a sounding board for their writing. It started out as one or two paragraph papers and now has moved onto seven-page essays. I’ve enjoyed watching all their writing improve over their years. It’s been a nice change of pace from reading and editing sports all day.
►13. Before the coronavirus pandemic, I liked to start my day with a workout and a trip to Meijer, where I usually run into my mother-in-law. When I walk into Meijer and after I talk to my mother-in-law, my kryptonite hits me right away: wall of doughnuts. I usually walk out with a cinnamon roll and it’s gone before I leave the parking lot, negating my workout for the most part. I miss my cinnamon rolls.
►14. I’ve always found it interesting that my last name (pronounced U-HAAS), with only five letters, is always butchered in some capacity. When I was in high school, I heard it pronounced about 10 different ways. The other day I heard my wife talking to someone on the phone. My wife spelled it out ... Y-U-H-A-S. The person replied “Y-U-S-A-H.” Thank god my grandfather was smart enough to change the spelling from J-U-H-A-S-Z to the current version when he came to the U.S. over 100 years ago. That would’ve caused way more pronunciation issues for people. For the record, I’m 100 percent Hungarian.
►15. I want to give some props to my family, including my wife, brother, sister and late parents for putting up with me. It’s not easy to be with someone that works in this business; crazy hours and a lot of sports. But they know that’s who I am and they let me be me. Thank you.