ESCANABA - Coaches, athletes and colleagues have poured in from across the Upper Peninsula and beyond to pay tribute to one of the greats.
Dennis "Denny" Grall made a remarkable impact on the lives of countless people in the sporting world as sports editor of The Daily Press (1970-80, 1984-2012). He forever changed the way sports are perceived in the U.P. and significantly expanded the scope of coverage. In doing so, he has set a standard that all who are in this field should follow and strive for.
The following are statements of congratulations, thanks and recognition from notable people as Grall will retire after 38 years with the Daily Press on Friday.
"Denny has made such a huge impact for so many years. He has had an overwhelmingly positive impact on the sports scene in supporting the activities. The scope of that goes way beyond competitive. From Little League and kids programs throughout the community and throughout high school years and beyond high school to adults and adult leagues to bowling leagues, there is not a group of people he has not impacted or currently does not impact through the Daily Press. He has compiled a body of work that has reached several generations of families. Then there is his work with the Lions Club and Delta County Cancer Alliance. From my standpoint, it's been very positive. We appreciate the long hours Denny has put in that people don't see, but are demanded by the job."
Dan Flynn | Former Escanaba High School football coach
"I think Denny had an impossible job covering as many schools and events as he did. I felt he was always objective and always kept things positive and that's extremely important for anyone covering high school athletics. He was very supportive of U.P. kids and his level of dedication for a small town newspaper was beyond reproach. When it came to things like picking all-U.P. teams, it's a tough chore, but he did his homework and checked with as many people and coaches as he could before he made a decision. He had a tough job. Any time you're dealing with the public, you're never right. People who think you do a good job are silent and when you do something negative, they're public, but I think the vast majority was appreciative of the job he did. He was never negative toward the kids or the coaches.
John Mileski | Former Gladstone High School football coach
"Denny's retirement will be a loss for the community. He was great at what he did. My players loved having him at games because they knew it would be a fair story and give credit where credit was due with a positive spin, even in a loss. Denny always had something positive to say. In my experience, when I started coaching, he didn't look at girls basketball as a secondary thing or an obligation. It was an exciting thing and a new addition. I talked to a lot of coaches in different areas (in the early days of Title IX implementation) and they had a hard time getting any kind of write-up, so we were fortunate to have had Denny. We'll miss him, he's a great guy. Whenever I would run into him, he always had something nice to say, always something going on and always looking out for the community."
Debbie Chase | Former Mid Peninsula High School girls basketball coach
"When Dick Bennett coached at UW-Stevens Point, he told me excellence knows no size. Denny personified that at Escanaba. The Daily Press and its forerunner have had a lot of guys writing sports over the years, but Denny in terms of longevity, commitment and performance, he rivals anyone in Upper Peninsula sportswriting history. He is an old-fashioned newspaper man, a magnificent photographer, he's self taught in many ways and he has a nose for news. He's not a U.P. native, but you would think so by reading his work. He has such a vast perspective of all U.P. sports. He understands the accuracy and beauty of sports records. Records are so often forgotten by newspapers around the country. Nobody keeps that stuff up, but Denny's records are phenomenal. It speaks to his commitment and work ethic. When working in a small town, you run a tight rope between putting news in the paper and offending people sometimes. It seems to me, Denny worked that balance pretty well. It's not easy. He wrote a lot of sensitive stories over the last 42 years. I always knew where his allegiances were though - to his readers and his employer. I'm well aware that it's very hard in a small town when some of these issues come up, and Denny handled it professionally."
Bob McGinn | Green Bay Packers reporter, Milwaukee JournalSentinel
"Denny has been a great friend, not only to me, but to the entire community for helping to tell their stories. He has been able to communicate lasting memories for so many people, fans, players and coaches and put them into print. In doing so, he has served a role that's been very valuable to the community, Escanaba and the Upper Peninsula. For those of us who have had the good luck to know Denny as a friend and as a reporter, he has played a meaningful role in all our lives. He has helped us create scrapbooks and stories to look at and remember fondly. The events he covered were always done in a professional, positive way. He's a very special person that has played an important role in our lives."
Dean Altobelli | 1983 Escanaba High School alum, all-state running back