November 23, 2014

A few words about Sara

Sara Boone, who has served with Portland Fire & Rescue — the official name of the fire department in Portland, Ore. — for more than 19 years, has achieved another first, becoming the first African-American woman in the 131-year history of the organization to rise to the rank of Battalion Chief.

Sara smiles for the camera during the awards ceremony.

Sara was sworn into that position in July and then her promotion was recognized this month as part of a fall awards ceremony for Portland firefighters and civilians. That event took place at the Portland Building in downtown Portland.

She is also, I’m proud to say, my sister.

But in spring 1992, prior to graduating from Boise State University, she had no idea that a career as a firefighter awaited her.

Instead, she was pursuing a career as a teacher which included student teaching at a Portland-area high school. She was teaching physical education at the time, but quickly became disillusioned with the job due to the size of the classes and the real-world problems her students brought to school.

“I never chose firefighting, the fire department chose me,” she said.

So one day when she decided to stay at school and eat lunch, rather than leave campus for a brief sanity break, a fire inspector showed up needing to see the girl’s locker room for a routine inspection.

She showed the inspector around and the two struck up a conversation. Sara explained that she was unsure about whether teaching really was for her, and also expressed an interest in the Coast Guard, while the inspector encouraged her to take a crack at the fire department.

Sara officially sworn in as a new battalion chief in July.

Portland Fire was launching a six-month apprenticeship program to recruit more women and minorities, the inspector told her.

The more Sara thought about firefighting, the more she realized it was for her.

“Again, this was a chance encounter with a total stranger that changed my life forever,” she said.

Her decision to pursue firefighting eventually led to some do-or-die moments, such as a physical agility test in which she had to climb, while connected to a harness, a 100-foot ladder in its raised position.

“If I hadn’t had a strength and conditioning coach in school (Sara ran track and field at Boise State), building muscle mass and endurance over the years, I don’t believe I would have made it, or even thought I could be a firefighter,” she said.

The entire process took more than two years: the six-month apprenticeship program was followed by nine months at the training academy and a year of probation before Sara joined Portland Fire in July 1995, the fourth woman and first African-American woman to make the department.

And she still is the only African-American woman to this day. (If I could just editorialize for a moment, I’d say Portland Fire needs to do more in this area).

Twenty people were in the original pilot program, but only 12 made it, including Sara.

Still, the apprenticeship program has been part of Portland Fire’s hiring process for nearly 20 years, which has added more than 30 women to the rank of firefighter.

In more than 19 years with Portland Fire, Sara has:

-Worked at all 30 fire stations in the city.

-Held the rank of lieutenant and captain, prior to being named a Battalion Chief.

So what’s next?

“Position wise, I think I’ve reached it, but I’m not sure what fate has in store for me,” she said.

–Rolf Boone

September 30, 2014

A job well done for Twins manager Ron Gardenhire comes to an end

This is a post about job security, tenure and the notion of a job well done because when you’ve been a manager of a professional sports team and have survived the whims of ownership, fickle fans and overpaid athletes for 13 years, you’re doing something right. But that all came to an end Monday for... Continue Reading »

September 26, 2014

Twins recap: Pitcher Phil Hughes shines in another losing campaign

Update: So that’s a wrap on the 2014 season for the Twins, the team finishing 70-92 after splitting a final four-game series with the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers, meanwhile, won the division and will advance to the playoffs for the fourth straight year, while the Twins have lost 90 or more games over the same... Continue Reading »

July 27, 2014

Remember the Portland Mavericks? I’m embarrassed I don’t

Frankly, I’m embarrassed. I was born and raised in Portland, Ore., and yet I must confess I knew next to nothing about the Portland Mavericks, a short-lived, independent baseball team that occupied Civic Stadium for five seasons. The Portland Mavericks’ home opener in 1973. That was until I saw a new documentary about the team... Continue Reading »

May 4, 2014

Jack Ramsay, who won title with NBA’s Blazers, dies at 89

Jack Ramsay, the longest tenured coach in the history of the Portland Trail Blazers and who led the team to its only championship in 1977, died last week after a long struggle with cancer. He was 89. NBA Hall of Fame coach Jack Ramsay What a loss, and what a shock to learn that cancer finally... Continue Reading »

March 28, 2014

Remembering the Twins’ Kirby Puckett

Kirby Puckett, who patrolled center field and played his entire 12-year career for the Minnesota Twins, would have been 54 this month. His birthday was March 14. But Puckett, a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2001, died in 2006 at the much-too-young age of 45 from a stroke. His life following the game was tragic,... Continue Reading »

February 15, 2014

Twins GM Terry Ryan announces he has cancer

Godspeed, Terry Ryan. Ryan, the longtime general manager of the Minnesota Twins, recently announced he has cancer after doctors discovered a cancerous lump in a lymph node in his neck. This is not an obituary. Ryan’s cancer reportedly is very treatable, but if he should step away from the game, just as he did in... Continue Reading »

January 10, 2014

Pitcher Jack Morris belongs in the baseball hall of fame

Better luck next time, Jack Morris. Morris, the longtime starting pitcher for the Detroit Tigers who also spent one incredible year with the Minnesota Twins, failed to gain entry to the Baseball Hall of Fame this week after spending 15 years on the ballot. I was sure he was going to get in this year... Continue Reading »

December 31, 2013

The ‘homerdome’ is going, going, gone

The state of Minnesota and the sporting world said goodbye to the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on Sunday, the often ridiculed dome with the air-supported roof hosting an NFL game (the Minnesota Vikings actually won) for the last time before it is demolished to make way for a new home for the Vikings. Hubert H. Humphrey... Continue Reading »

Next Previous

Hi, I’m Rolf Boone and I love the Twins.

I became a fan of the Minnesota Twins after a friendly wager in the early 1980s. I survived Ron Davis, the meltdown in Cleveland, Phil Bradley at the Kingdome and then marveled at a rising generation of stars and two World Series wins in 1987 and 1991. Brad Radke made the 1990s bearable, while Kirby Puckett’s eye injury, exit from the game and eventual death made it almost too much to bear. The new century ushered in more talent — Joe Mauer, Johan Santana, Joe Nathan, Torii Hunter, Justin Morneau — and consecutive seasons of playoff baseball, followed by consecutive seasons of losing baseball. A winning season returned in 2015. So here we are. Go Twins.