I’m married to Mike Wagner, who I met when we were both writing for the Dayton Daily News. We’ve been married for a little more than a year. I’ve got three fabulous stepkids — Mitch and Kyle, who are both 11, and Isabelle, who is 8. They’re all crazy sports freaks who want to know why my sister has so many basketball plaques hanging in the high school and I don’t have any. They don’t go to Manchester, but Mitch has learned to chant “Go Comets” when he wants to irritate me.
I’m settled in Columbus now, but I hopscotched around quite a bit: from Springfield, IL to Columbus, OH to Grand Junction, CO, back to Springfield, then back to Columbus.
Education after MHS:
BA in English/Journalism from Ashland, and MA in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois at Springfield.
Your Occupation history:
I’ve been a reporter for several papers . . . Small Newspaper Group (in Illinois), Dayton Daily News, The (Grand Junction) Daily Sentinel, (Springfield) State Journal-Register and, now, The Columbus Dispatch. I’ve written about everything from murders to fashion. It’s a fun profession.
Investigative reporter for The Columbus Dispatch.
Did your MHS education or experiences influence your career direction?
When I signed up for freshman classes, one of the counselors called and said the yearbook class was full, so I had to pick something else. The newspaper class, I was told, was open. I thought writing about sports would be fun, so I did it — and loved it. Luckily, my writing no longer needs prior approval from Mr. France.
Interesting things you’ve done since high school:
There’s a lot of pressure with this question, isn’t there? Probably the most interesting thing was getting married on the Friday morning of the Cleveland Indians home opener in 2006, then taking our 100 guests to the game, which was a blast. I’ve run a few half-marathons, which is probably more stupid than interesting, since my knees are about shot and I’m not yet 30. Coaching Isabelle’s softball team is a treat. Listening to the boys talk about the “boy to man” video they just watched in school was definitely interesting.
Strangest thing you’ve done since high school:
I so had no answer for this question until I was backstage for a Warrant concert in late May. My dad teaches with a guy at the middle school, Shawn Zavodney, who is the keyboardist for Warrant (you know, Cherry Pie), and he called and said he’d put us on his guest list. We got to Alrosa Villa (where, mind you, someone was shot and killed a year or so ago) and in this little corner of the world, it was like 1984 never ended. Lots of big hair and eyeliner and jean shorts. I didn’t want to park my red Volkswagen beetle, because I was afraid somebody would beat it up. One strong drink, and I was having a blast.
Hiking the rock of Gibraltar with Mike during our honeymoon in southern Spain. . . Easter eve service at Westminster Abbey in London . . . Backpacking through France and Italy with my cousin . . . Semester of college in Australia . . . Maui with my parents and sis . . . Hiking Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado . . . Wrigley Field . . . Taking the kids to boardwalk at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, where my parents always took us growing up.
Current Hobbies / Activities:
Painting, photography, running, yoga, coaching softball, watching the kids play sports, traveling.
Favorite Manchester teachers, and why:
- Mrs. Marino, the second-grade teacher who I worshipped.
- Mrs. Lemon-Harp, the middle school and high school librarian who really encouraged my writing
and was one of the kindest, most honest, most real people I’ve ever known.
- Mrs. Austin, who taught us all everything about grammar we didn’t want to learn but needed to
Favorite subjects at MHS:
Art with Mr. P and Panther Press with Mrs. White.
Least favorite subjects at MHS:
Pre-Calculus by a landslide. My brain just doesn’t function like that. Which may explain why I sometimes have trouble helping with 5th-grade math homework.
Favorite Manchester memories:
Walking to Cope Pharmacy for penny candy in the summer. Lockhart Fields. The ice cream stand that used to be across from what used to be the Sparkle Market. Friday night football games. Watching my dad coach basketball for so many years, then playing for him and eventually with my sis, too. Screaming at jam-packed boys basketball games on Saturday nights. Driving to Swenson’s with Stevie Smith, going to Marblehead with Karen King on summer weekends . . . just growing up together, all of us.
Thoughts about attending Manchester schools, in general:
My husband calls it Pleasantville, and it really is — or at least was for us. I was probably the most naïve high school graduate in history, but I knew everything I really needed to know: The team with the biggest heart usually wins (at least before districts); if you’re nice to someone, they’re usually nice to you back; and you always place a comma before the conjunction if there are two separate thoughts in a sentence.
What sports, if any, did you play or letter in at MHS?
Basketball and cheerleading for four years, softball for one.
Other H.S. activities or clubs you enjoyed:
Panther Press, WSFM, class president
Which H.S. reunions have you attended?
We’ve only had one—our five year—and it was great. Our 10-year is this fall, and I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone.
Did you have any favorite high school “hangouts?”
Not unless the football field or the gym count.
Favorite TV shows:
Then -- Beverly Hills 90210 and Friends.
Now -- I don’t know, probably Top Chef. And I’m a sucker for American Idol.
Then -- Jerry Maguire, A Time to Kill, My Best Friend’s Wedding. Ace Ventura was definitely up there,
Now -- Love Actually and Wedding Crashers.
“My old friends would be surprised to know . . .”
. . . That I actually drink. I can still picture sitting at a party our senior year, and it was like the entire room’s challenge to get me to try a wine cooler. Awesome.
Parents or siblings who are also Manchester alumni?
My parents, Kim (Ellis) and Bob Eckert, graduated in 1974. My mom owns a State Farm agency in Manchester and was the company’s #1 seller nationwide last year. My dad teaches Phys Ed at the middle school and, now that he’s retired from coaching, golfs eight days a week. My sister, Erika, who graduated in 2001, lives in Wadsworth and is getting married in June. She teaches Phys Ed and Wellness at a middle school in Canton, where she coaches girls basketball.
You can drop Kristy a note at: firstname.lastname@example.org