The Williamsport (Pa.) Sun-Gazette sports department is trying its hand at a sports-themed hard-bound book this spring.

Chris Masse, who has covered area high schools for the past decade, has compiled a series of Top 10 lists spotlighting teams, players and coaches from the past decade. It will be published in the spring and will be called "Headliners: A Decade of NorthCentral Pennsylvania Sports Excellence."

Sports editor Ben Brigandi said the book, which is in the final editing process, will be about 300 pages and start with a limited run of 1,500 copies.

The paper's news department has had success with some historical and military books, and the ad department was trying to sell some display ads in the back as it has for other book projects.

Brigandi said Masse came up with the idea and was able to secure approval.

"The book is mostly vignette, lookback-feature type stuff on each player, coach and team that he's covered and made a Top 10 list for," Brigandi said.

The paper is hoping that its release will coincide with graduations and the time of year when sports awards are doled out. The target market is friends and family of those in the book plus hardcore supporters of area high school sports.

Photos came from the paper's archives or the personal collections from some of the featured subjects.

"Kelly Mazzante, an area native from Montoursville who went on to become an All-American basketball player and NCAA scoring champ at Penn State before joining the WNBA, wrote the foreward," Brigandi said. "She's also probably the best boy or girl athlete the area's produced in that time. We did a college career retrospective tab of her in 2004 that was so popular Wal-Mart even bought an ad. Personally, I think she's more popular around here than her Montoursville counterpart Mike Mussina."


MID-ATLANTIC
The Sunbury (Pa.) Daily Item

The sports department is preparing for a number of special projects, including the annual motorsports and spring sports tabs printing in quick succession in March. Those will be published around the same time as the state wrestling and state swimming tournaments and the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association Championships, which will take place for the first time at nearby Bucknell University. The Daily Item also is starting a new quarterly publication covering outdoor activities (hunting, fishing, hiking, etc.) that should debut in March. The planned ratio would please any publisher, with only five or six stories planned for a 48-page digest-style edition that otherwise will be filled with ads.

SOUTHEAST
The Knoxville News Sentinel

The paper expanded its GoVolsXtra brand by partnering with digital sports network 247Sports to launch a new subscription-based website called GVX247.com.

The website, which will feature in-depth recruiting news and discussion about University of Tennessee football and men’s basketball, made its debut on Dec. 30.

“We experimented with making GoVolsXtra a subscription site a few years ago, and we decided we wanted to provide free access to our core Vols coverage,” News Sentinel editor Jack McElroy said. “That won’t change. GoVolsXtra.com will continue to have all of the same news and commentary it has now.

“But the GVX247 partnership allows us to hire more sports writers and join a national network to bring Tennessee’s most intense fans even more information.“

247Sports is the brainchild of Shannon Terry and Bobby Burton. The two previously created the Rivals.com sports network, which they sold to Yahoo! in 2007 for $98 million. Now they are building a new national sports network, and they wanted the GoVolsXtra brand to be part of it.

“The Knoxville News Sentinel is a name that is synonymous with coverage of University of Tennessee athletics,” said Burton, president of 247Sports. “Combine that with our network of affinity sites, our expertise in the recruiting space and our technology and social-media offerings, and we think we’ve formed a great team to cover the Vols.“

Two sports writers with previous experience covering the Vols have been hired by 247Sports. Wes Rucker has covered the Vols for eight of the past 10 years, most recently as the UT beat writer for the Chattanooga Times Free Press, and Ryan Callahan has covered the Vols for six years, most recently for the Maryville Daily Times.

The News Sentinel is the second newspaper to partner with 247Sports, which is based in Brentwood, Tenn. The Austin (Texas) American-Statesman recently partnered with 247Sports for coverage of University of Texas athletics.