Being a reporter can be a drag.
Do not get me wrong, I love my job, but it can become redundant and mundane. The teams I cover change, and the sports seasons revolve, but, in the end, it is all just doing the same thing over and over and over again.
Every once in a while, though, something different comes along.
Luckily, in my brief career as a sports journalist, I have been afforded the opportunities to experience lots of things I could only dream about.
I have been to Heisman banquets and rubbed shoulders with gridiron greats like Earl Campbell, Archie Griffin, John Davis Crow, Tony Dorsett and Eddie George. I have covered the NCAA tournament, college bowl games and state football championships. I sat with MMA legend Bas Rutten, survived asking Bob Knight a question, met basketball hall of famers like Hakeem Olajuwon, Dick Vitale and Pat Riley, and I talked sports with some of the country’s most respected journalists.
But none of it ever humbled me like a high school baseball game did while working for the Victoria Advocate.
Less than a week prior to Victoria West’s game against Gregory-Portland, Warriors sophomore pitcher Austin Davis suddenly died. It was the first home game played by West since his passing.
Before the game, a memorial was held at the jam-packed stadium. There was a moment of silence following the announcement of the starting lineups, and West players circled the pitcher’s mound, where Davis’ parents and brother stood with a baseball glove and hat placed on the rubber.
Davis was named the starting pitcher.
There were very few dry eyes in the stadium or on the diamond once the opening pitch was thrown.
After giving up three runs in the first inning, West rallied to win, and the team presented Davis’ parents with the game ball afterward.
For at least five minutes, I watched from afar as Donny and Marilyn Davis talked with their son’s teammates and, more importantly, friends.
I do not know what was said, and I do not care to know. All I know is that I felt honored to be in the presence of it all. From the courage of his parents and brother to the unbelievable support of the community to the passion displayed by his team and its coaches – it was all extremely overwhelming.
Tuesday marked the one-year anniversary of the death of the 16-year-old, and I still get a little choked up thinking about the range of emotions that night.
Out of hundreds of events I have covered, undoubtedly, this was the most special.
Being a reporter can be a drag, but it can also provide life-changing experiences.
As a person who has loved sports his entire existence, I am happy to say the most humbling moment of my career did not occur in the midst of living legends or at a championship game, rather it happened at a Class 4A high school baseball stadium, where the life of a teenager was honored.
Contact Clay Whittington at firstname.lastname@example.org