Lots to be thankful for in sports

November 24, 2012

I wouldn’t call myself a glass half full or glass half empty kind of guy.

I’m more of a “Why didn’t you give me a full glass of water because I’m just going to have to make another trip to the sink” kind of guy.

Still, maybe it’s just this time of year, but I’m also thankful someone thought enough of me to get me some water in the first place (unless, of course, it was meant for someone else).

Fact is, I’m thankful for lots of things. My one-year wedding anniversary to the one woman in the world with more patience than Job is coming up Monday. I have wonderful children, a great career, and Rush Limbaugh is still proving I’m not the craziest person on the planet.

And since I make my living writing about sports, there is plenty to be thankful about in that realm.

For starters, Alabama is back in the national title mix and those blue #&^%*s to the South some call Auburn are having a terrible season (if you think the Texas-OU rivalry is heated, spend a week in Birmingham).

The Crimson Tide and Notre Dame Fighting Irish are on the verge of playing for the national championship. Could there be a grander stage to determine college football’s king?

More on that in a moment, but locally, I’m thankful for another terrific season by the Granbury Lady Pirates volleyball team, reaching the third round of the playoffs for a fourth straight year. It’s hard to believe that coach Tammy Clark was once on the hot seat, because now she’s got the most consistently successful program on campus.

I’m thankful for the resurgence of a couple of other GHS programs, Lady Pirate basketball and football. Coach Leta Andrews’ Lady Pirates have risen from a couple seasons hovering around .500 to post their best season since 2003, their reward being a berth in the regional semifinals (if you can call a trip to Snyder a reward).

And Pirate football recently ended its best season since 1998, winning seven games and earning a third consecutive playoff berth. Not since the 1965-68 seasons has Granbury enjoyed such a playoff run.

Yes, the critic will point to several teams over the past few decades that would have reached the playoffs under the current format, or that the 1965-68 teams had to win their district to get there. Whatever the format, Granbury hasn’t been this excited about football since Tom Hanks was wearing a dress in the TV show “Bosom Buddies,” and that’s worth celebrating.

I’m thankful Mike Franklin, one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met, has his Tolar Rattlers advancing in the 2A football playoffs as of the printing of this article. They just don’t come any classier than Franklin, and here’s hoping those who questioned his ability to coach at a higher level will now simply and quietly step aside.

I’m thankful Dana Vollmer once again thrilled us in the latter part of the summer with one of the most outstanding swimming performances by a woman in Olympic history. I’m even more thankful that she and my dear friend SEALS coach Janet Steenberge have been named to the Texas Amateur Athletic Federation Hall of Fame.

The only thing Steenberge does better than coach swimming is inspire. From young to old, five minutes with her is enough inspiration for a year.

But mostly I’m thankful sports has given me many friends and memories, even before I started making my living in the business. Not a football season passes that I don’t think of times spent with my late brother Larry and my dad, and all of us watching college football on a Saturday afternoon.

My dad was a Notre Dame fan, so if indeed the Irish make it to the title game, I will be thinking of him every snap. I remember the ribbing I got from him when Notre Dame edged Alabama 24-23 in the 1973 Sugar Bowl to win the national title, not realizing at the time it would be one of the highlights of my life.

Dad, even though I love you and will always miss you, ‘Bama wins by 17 this time. Either way, though, I will be thankful for the chance to share another football game with you.

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Category: Sports Archived