A sportswriter’s job is to make something more interesting than it actually is.
With my passion for sports, this has never been a challenge — I was the kid watching ESPN instead of Nickelodeon.
When my dad would come home from work, I had memorized the most important sports events of the day, and if the Astros played, it was my job to tell him how the game went down. I usually had about 30 seconds before his attention would drift, so I had to talk fast and with excitement.
I learned these traits from my mom. You know that perfect parent in the movies that reads a book to the kid every night before bed? That’s my mom. And being from East Texas, her stories tend to get awesomely exaggerated. These are my parents, and this is how I was raised to write.
Even though I’m from the tiny backwoods town of Daisetta, my parents made the 105-mile round-trip drive to Houston hundreds of times so my brother and I could see the Astros. We were the kids who wouldn’t stop screaming at the players until they gave us a baseball, an autograph or the time of day, but instead they’d spend half of batting practice talking to dorky men in khaki pants and plaid polos, carrying tape recorders and notepads. When I found out these were the men in the sports sections I read with my dad, they became my heroes.
I knew I wanted to be a sportswriter, and the advisers who convinced me to take that passion to Texas were named Vince Young and Kevin Durant. Texas alumnus and Houston Chronicle columnist Richard Justice advised me to sign up for The Daily Texan once I was comfortable with my classes.
Moving from a graduating class of 35 to a theater class of 350 was a rude transition at times and I was a mess. I had hair down to my knees and essentially did what I pleased for the first few weeks until I found a girl who taught me not to cut corners. It didn’t take long to learn from Monica and her meticulous ways. She encouraged me to join The Daily Texan, a decision that changed everything.
In my first semester at the Texan, I wasn’t great, but I embraced that men’s track and field beat like I was covering the Olympics. Toward the end of the semester, my amazing academic adviser Wendy Boggs told me about a last-minute summer internship opportunity at the Houston Chronicle, my absolute dream job.
Monica spent hours putting together my resume and a perfectly enveloped application. After I dropped it in the box with a stamp that wasn’t as aesthetically pleasing as she had hoped, she made me go ask a postal worker to dig it out and replace the stamp with a smaller, nicer-looking one — I’m serious. To this day, she’s still convinced that the stamp was the reason I was awarded the internship of a lifetime. I was blessed to work with some of the best sportswriters in the country at the Chronicle, writers I had read and idolized as a kid.
Now, my time at The Texan and Texas has expired. In my time, I witnessed the rise of the football, basketball, baseball and volleyball teams and was forced to watch all of them utterly collapse over the past year. But the juice was worth the squeeze — I saw the albino squirrel around campus more than I saw Colt McCoy, had boudin with Quan Cosby, Rudy’s with Jordan Shipley, pancakes with D.J. Augustin, beat Dexter Pittman at H-O-R-S-E, had Aaron Peirsol as a swimming TA, and asked Garrett Weber-Gale what the night skies were like.
Texas probably showed me more fun than I showed it, but I think my story was interesting enough.