We in San Antonio will never get to know Michael Goodgame, a junior at Carleton College, a highly ranked liberal arts institution located in Northfield, Minn. Michael was a political science major and a frequent contributor to the Carletonian, the university newspaper. He also was a competitive Ultimate Frisbee player at a school that had only 2,000 students yet always ranked nationally. The Carleton Ultimate Team, known as CUT, finished third in the nation last year against Division I squads from universities 20 and 30 times larger.
Michael was set to become the Rivard Report's Summer 2014 intern in June. He already was at work on his first assignment to write a story explaining how the intramural sport of Ultimate Frisbee has grown to be so popular on university campuses across the country, including Trinity University here in San Antonio.
Michael and several other members of the varsity Carleton CUT were on their way to the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Friday to fly to a tournament at Stanford University in California when their SUV spun out on an icy roadway and was hit head-on by a tractor-trailer. Michael and two other students, James P. Adams, 20, of St. Paul and Paxton M. Harvieux, 21, of Stillwater, Minn. were killed. The driver and another passenger survived, as did the truck driver. The students were wearing seat belts and neither speeding nor alcohol were factors in the accident.
(Update: Readers of this story later told me that CUT canceled its participation in the California tournament out of deference to the families of the victims. Another reader active in the Texas Ultimate Frisbee community told me that CUT is a collegiate UF legend, renowned for its superior performance against big universities with powerhouse athletic programs.)
Ever since Michael first applied for the internship in a Jan. 28 email, I had a feeling he was destined to come to San Antonio and the Rivard Report. His columns in the Carletonian demonstrated surprising confidence and craft for a 20-year-old. Here is one example of his work published by the Star-Tribune, the leading daily newspaper in Minneapolis.
This did not come as a big surprise to me because I knew writing and journalism was in Michael's blood. His mother, Marcia Logan, was an accomplished reporter at the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel and People magazine. His father is Dan Goodgame, known in San Antonio as the vice president for executive communications at Rackspace. What many in San Antonio do not know is Dan had a long and storied career as a newspaper and news magazine journalist and editor before moving here.
He was a star investigative reporter and Middle East correspondent for the Miami Herald, then one of the nation's top newspapers, in the early 198os. I regularly read his work as a journalist working for the Dallas Times Herald, and later, Newsweek magazine in Central America. In those days the Miami Herald was the newspaper of record for the Americas and the Caribbean, and it was delivered daily throughout the hemisphere.
Dan went on to become a national correspondent, White House correspondent and Washington Bureau Chief for Time magazine, where he co-authored with Michael Duffy the book, "Marching in Place: The Status Quo Presidency of George Bush." That photo of Michael playing Ultimate Frisbee displayed at the top of this article was taken by Duffy's son, Niko, also a student at Carleton.
Dan eventually became the editor of Fortune Small Business, a startup magazine aimed at small business owners. It was launched in 2000 and folded nine years later. That's how Dan came to Rackspace.
Dan moved to San Antonio while Marcia stayed in the family's Westport, Conn. home and kept her job as the communications coordinator for the Westport Library. The couple has two older sons, Clayton, a graduate student in Middle East studies at Oxford University, and Sam, an Army Ranger lieutenant in the 101st Airborne Division. Westport was home for the three boys. Michael's knowledge of San Antonio was limited to a few brief visits, which gave him some pause as he accepted the internship offer. We assured him that we were eager to work with a young writer who would see our city with fresh eyes and challenge some of our conventions and assumptions.
For all of Dan's success as a journalist, it wouldn't have helped Michael at the Rivard Report. We were looking for the best available young journalist to spend the summer in San Antonio and make an immediate contribution. We would offer training and mentoring and plenty of journalistic opportunity, but the winning candidate had to demonstrate the ability to land in a new city at a two-year-old startup where everyone does everything. It's an opportunistic environment if you don't mind working 24/7. Michael's work for the Carletonian and his evident drive made him the right choice.
We agreed on a June 15 start date. In a series of email conversations between his Jan. 28 application and the accident, we gained a good glimpse of a motivated young man with enthusiasm to match his talent. "You've got game, Michael, and I don't mean Ultimate..." I wrote in a Feb. 3 message that confirmed his selection as our summer intern. A later email he sent on Feb. 17 offered a candid critique of our site redesign, launched days earlier. That convinced me he was coming on board as a starter, not someone who intended to stand back shyly and wait for direction.
We had hoped to publish Michael Goodgame's first story in the coming weeks. Instead we will mourn Michael, a promising young man we knew only fleetingly, and we will remember in our thoughts and prayers the Goodgame family and the families of the other victims and the heavy grief and loss they now bear.
*Featured/top image: Michael Goodgame during a particularly muddy game of Ultimate Frisbee. Photo by Niko Duffy.