Bringing Back Memories

Bringing Back Memories

Gamel_potrait_JPEG_150by Steve Gamel

So I was sitting in my office the other day pecking away at the keyboard when suddenly I found myself daydreaming. Granted, our deadline was fast approaching and it was definitely not the best time to let my mind wander. But the moment was too good to pass up.

I began thinking back on my life as a sports writer, and the very first high school state title game I covered nearly 20 years ago – the 1997 Class 5A Division II football final between Marcus and Alief Hastings. I don’t know, maybe it was a conversation I had with coworkers only a few minutes earlier about how lucky we have been to cover such an amazing area that set off those memories.

After all, between Argyle and Guyer alone, I’ve personally covered seven football state title games since 2010. That doesn’t even account for title games in basketball, baseball, volleyball, soccer and softball that at least one of us has been fortunate to cover.

There’s more on the way, too, starting with this football season. But nothing will ever beat the first one.

That game all those years ago was played at the Houston Astrodome, if you can believe that. That year I covered games in stadiums all over the state, from the Cotton Bowl to Shotwell Stadium in Abilene. But the Astrodome was clearly the kicker. Marcus won that game, 59-20.

I remember it so vividly because it was my first football season as a journalist. Marcus started the year slow and hardly looked like a title contender, but then-head coach Que Brittain and his staff – did I mention Argyle coach Todd Rodgers was on that staff? – brought in John Madden for an inspirational speech prior to the first district game.

Yes, I just name dropped John Madden. After that, everything took off – both for the team and myself. By the time I showed up to cover the title game, it was so hard to remain impartial because I was excited for those kids. You could tell the players enjoyed it.

There was an extra hop in their step as they did their pre-game warm ups and got used to the dome’s Astroturf. They were joking around, as was I with a couple of members of the coaching staff. Even when I got back up into the press box, you could tell it was going to be an exciting game just by the way players from both teams carried themselves.

I remember racing down to the field with a flood of other sports writers when the game was over – not sure of what my first question would be. The players were huddled around, holding up the trophy with pride as friends and family rushed the field to congratulate them.

It was a magical feeling to be in that environment, and I have the luxury of having those memories play out over and over again with different teams every year. Maybe it sounds a bit dorky, but I love covering high school sports and it never gets old. I can vividly recall all those great moments, from the coaches I built relationships with to the players I watched move on to the next level.

It all seems like it happened yesterday – even that very first one.

Until next time, I’ll see you on the sidelines.

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