Our Sports Guy, The Fat Punter, Bids San Angelo Farewell
Trying to find a way to say thank you to a community that has given you so much is tough, but I’m going to give it my best shot.
In 2013, I came to San Angelo from Houston on a football scholarship to punt for the Angelo State Rams and a hunger to prove myself. I didn’t know much about the town of roughly 100,000 except the people were extremely friendly. Boy, were y’all friendly.
My senior season in 2015 was the perfect embodiment of that mentality. My mother, my biggest supporter, passed away just before the season. Things were rough for me.
But people like my head coach Will Wagner, Theron Aych and Jeff Girsch, as well as the entire community, had my back and saw me through that storm.
WATCH: Sam Fowler Bids Farwell
So, following my graduation from Angelo State in 2017, a year later than planned -- sorry, I was having too much fun -- and a pair of All-Conference selections, I didn’t want to leave and was searching for a job. It was tough to find a job that suited what I wanted to do here, but I still wanted to prove myself. I needed to prove myself.
In August of 2017 I was told of a startup news outlet called San Angelo LIVE! and a man trying to reshape journalism in this town. His name was Joe Hyde and he wanted to add sports coverage to his outlet.
He gave me my shot and I think I made the most of that opportunity.
Joe was the best boss a recent college graduate could have. He was flexible and understanding of what I wanted to do.
He was also compassionate. Hurricane Harvey flooded my childhood home and my dad had to clean up the mess -- dad was adamant that I stay in San Angelo and work.
After breaking his arm in the clean up and the subsequent surgery, he suffered a stroke. I got the news at 6:00 a.m. the Saturday after Central’s 2017 win over Odessa Permian and had to leave immediately.
Joe didn’t bat an eye and told me to take the time I needed to make sure everything was ok back home. My dad struggled to talk in the early hours following the stroke, but eventually told me to get back to San Angelo as soon as I could. He and I both hated that I was away from work.
I came back that Monday with a renewed purpose -- work so hard that you can find a job closer to home. After covering 209 games and seven UIL state championships, that opportunity has come and I have accepted the position of Sports Editor at the Pleasanton Express to cover the sports of Atascosa County south of San Antonio.
In two years at San Angelo LIVE!, I have met many people and have developed relationships with all of them. That’s what I cherish most.
I teared up on Monday after the grandmother for Wall standouts Ashlynn and Payton Box told me our coverage helped her make a scrapbook for the two as they begin college. That’s part of why I got into this line of work, to help create those memories as people had done for me when I was in high school.
Communities like Garden City, Mason, Sonora and Wall let me, a hungry journalist, in to tell their stories. The late hours, lonely car rides across the state and gas station tacos were worth it and I wouldn’t change a thing.
During Mason’s unprecedented run at the 2018 Class 2A DI state championship, Kade Burns always welcomed me to come out and get a story.
Garden City’s Jeff Jones, Wall’s Jeremy Williams, Houston Guy, Craig Slaughter, Shawn Beeles, Steve Bain, Chris Schlicke and Tate Lombard, and Sonora’s Jeff Cordell, Clayton and Judi Harris, and Hope Gipson and countless other coaches became people I call friends now.
Interviews for upcoming games or feature stories frequently turned into conversations about literally anything and everything. Trips that should’ve lasted 30 minutes turned into hour-long excursions that always left me with a sense of purpose.
Those relationships are something I’ll cherish for the rest of my life, just as I cherish every connection I’ve made here in the Concho Valley.
To my colleagues in the town’s sports media landscape, thank you. Thank you for welcoming me as one of y’all from the jump. Y’all have shown me how to conduct myself in a professional manner and that will carry me through every twist and turn along the way of my career.
To Yantis Green, Matt Trammell, John Basquez, Zoey Hanrahan, Mel Register and Manny Diaz, it has been fun to work with all of y’all. An especially big thank you to Zoey, she’s the one who gave me the lead on the job here.
I’m not good at goodbyes and absolutely hate them because the idea of never coming back to this beautiful region of Texas will never cross my mind.
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