Danny Rode has been writing about Central Alberta athletes in some form or another for a half-century.
When he started at the Red Deer Advocate in 1971, as a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed 22-year-old out of Trochu, Pierre Trudeau was prime minister and Rode punched out articles on a typewriter.
Since then, he’s documented the careers of Olympians, NHLers and everything in between – while also travelling across the country and the world to share stories of local athletes.
Fifty years into his career, Rode is being honoured by Red Deer College for his commitment to sports writing in central Alberta with an honorary Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Studies.
“I was still surprised and I was really honoured, any time you get any recognition it’s great,” Rode said.
Rode’s father introduced him to the sports editor at the Red Deer Advocate all those years ago and the paper was looking for someone to write about RDC athletics. He started out on a typewriter and really wasn’t sure he was any good.
“We had a typewriter. You typed it out and you couldn’t correct mistakes or anything. It was a mess and this lady, she would take your article and type it into this machine. She gave me crap all the time because my two fingers hit two buttons or something,” he recalled with a laugh.
“We got along. I didn’t know – who knew how long it was going to last. It was a fun thing because I enjoyed sports.”
Even as he tried to figure out the local sports world, he quickly became a fixture at RDC events and competitions rarely missing a home game – eventually travelling the world, including trips to Finland, Denmark and Japan covering RDC teams.
Of all the teams he covered and all the games he’s watched, the RDC Kings volleyball program from 1999-2007 stands out above most.
Over that span, they won eight straight national titles. At one point during the run, Canada’s national team could have started an all-RDC alumni group.
One year, Rode said Kings volleyball team nearly knocked off the top university team in Canada and went toe-to-toe with BYU in the United States, who was ranked number 2 in the country.
“That was probably the best team that’s ever played here,” Rode said.
“Those are the things you remember. I enjoyed the college. Obviously, I enjoyed working with kids and giving them some recognition. At the college, they had so many good athletes and good people.”
Rode was elected in the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame in 1999 for his expansive sports media coverage, but that was really only the midway point of his career.
“You work and really enjoy it. We always joked, ‘I could be working for a living.’ (In 1999), that was when I probably realized I had a career that was something special,” he said.
In addition to his long career in journalism, Rode served on planning committees for a variety of sports championships in the region and still serves on the board of directors for the Alberta Sport Development Centre – Central.
He continued to cover high school athletes and RDC well beyond his hall of fame recognition and even now is still writing, with a column focused on local sports once a week at the Advocate.
“it’s just been so much fun, I still enjoy it,” he said.