Random musings as World Cup ratings nosedive in America:

When a co-worker texted me that he had seen tweets saying a Harker Heights student had died Tuesday morning, I braced myself for the name I’d shortly see.

As soon as I saw the first tweet mentioning a student named Joseph, my heart dropped.

“Not Joseph Alaniz,” I said out loud.

Shortly after, however, I learned that Alaniz died after a car accident east of Marble Falls that also left his teammate on the Heights football team, Dre’Quan Myers, in critical condition.

I only covered Alaniz for one football season but saw plenty of him in my first year covering Heights athletics.

Alaniz was a regular at Heights sporting events, home and away, and was often one of the first students to arrive.

The same reason Heights head football coach Jerry Edwards recommended Alaniz for just my second Q&A with a Knight football player was the same reason it was impossible to miss Alaniz at Heights sporting events.

His personality was just as infectious as his smile, and I can hardly ever remember seeing Alaniz without one on his face.

The outpouring of emotion Tuesday on Twitter — by athletes and non-athletes, current students and students who graduated before him — was a sign that my initial impression of Alaniz wasn’t an isolated one.

The Harker Heights community lost a special one in Joseph Alaniz.

Prayers go out to his family and friends as well as the family and friends of Myers, who remained hospitalized at press time.

Hard to be bitter about the United States national team bowing out in the round of 16 in the World Cup on Tuesday after succumbing to Belgium, 2-1, in extra time.

Yes, the team had its chances to put away Belgium in regular time and later to tie the game to send it to penalty kicks in extra time.

But Team USA didn’t finish its chances while Belgium did when Tim Howard wasn’t making one of his incredible 16 saves.

After falling in the round of 16 for the second straight World Cup, Team USA must now find a way to improve upon its success in the group stages even though one might argue that getting out of Group G signaled improvement by itself.

I can’t begin to tell you what that will require over the next four years — just that I’ll be watching intently when this time of year rolls around in 2018.

Still waiting for the NBA free agency period to heat up even if that may be an exercise in futility this summer.

LeBron James opting out appeared to signal the possibility of a chaotic free agency period like when James left the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat in the summer of 2010.

But the Miami Heat appear determined not to become James’ second former team as fellow stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh opted out and appear poised to take less money in order for James to receive a max contract extension.

That leaves the Heat with few, if any, options to retool with a big splash with its cap space still limited.

That also leaves the rest of the league with a similarly thin market to add top-tier talent as Carmelo Anthony may be the only superstar-type player available.

Time will tell if the offseason remains a quiet one.

But, then again, the first splash may have already come by the time this column runs.

Finally, Happy Independence Day to everyone. Hope you enjoy the time off.

Contact Jordan Mason at jmason@kdhnews.com or 254-501-7562​

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