Many thanks for the ride Hood County

July 30, 2014

by Rick Mauch

There is an irony in that while a decade provides a lot of memories, it can also go by in the blink of an eye.

So it has been with my time at the Hood County News.

I came here in 2004, one of the greatest decisions the Good Lord ever made for me.

But now, he has other plans.

Saturday will be my final issue with the HCN. I am leaving to become the editor of Parker County Today magazine in Weatherford.

So you see, there IS a way to get rid of me. Granted, it won’t shut me up, but now you’ll have to drive 25 miles to hear me.

WE WERE PART OF HISTORY

  • Ventures to Long Beach and later in Omaha covering Dana Vollmer in the Olympic Trials.
  • I’ll always cherish being there when the great Leta Andrews became the all-time winningest girls basketball coach and later all-time winningest basketball coach in history. Even more, I will treasure her friendship that blossomed after I came to the paper and will continue after I’m gone.
  • Seeing the Granbury Pirates break a football playoff drought in 2010 that lasted longer than the TV series “Gunsmoke” also ranks right up there (although had half of Texas been able to go in 2004 like they do now, former coach Mike Lebby would have had the well-deserved honor).
  • WE LAUGHED

  • Publisher Jerry Tidwell comes into my office one day and tells me I need to go to Pecan Plantation and interview a player for the Houston Texans who is in town visiting family. It also happens to be on the day Alabama is playing Notre Dame for the national championship in football. I fretted, but what does one do? When the boss wants something special done, you do it. It wasn’t until a couple hours later that I learned Jerry and editor Roger Enlow were pulling a fast one on me. Once they got my heart pumping again, I acknowledged it as one of the best pranks ever played on me.
  • Once, when I was covering the Lipan boys and Mark Wilson (our next sports editor) was covering the Lipan girls in a regional final, I sent him a text. I don’t remember the subject, but my intended question was to ask Lady Indians coach Amber Branson when is the last time that has happened in Lipan?
  • Thanks to autocorrect, Mark looked down in surprise and saw, “Ask her when is the last time that has happened in my pants?”
  • When wearing shorts on casual Fridays at work – well, maybe that wasn’t as funny to my co-workers. Come to think of it, they might prefer that under the next heading.
  • WE CRIED

  • Whenever we tried to get one particular coach to return a phone call, text or email.
  • When Leta retired surprisingly following more than five decades at the end of this past season.
  • nWhen former Granbury Pirate pitcher Josh Fant died of heat stroke while working out with his college team in 2007.
  • When good friend and Granbury sports legend Johnny Perkins died of heart complications in 2007.
  • When several former co-workers passed away, including the always jovial Burl McClellan. I remember walking by his office one day while he was compiling the obits. “Whatcha doin’ Burl?” I asked, to which he replied dryly, “Lookin’ to see if I can find my name in here.”
  • WE EXPERIENCED THRILLS

  • In 2004, Granbury quarterback Andrew Mellencamp guides his team downfield for a pair of late touchdown passes to Justice Baker with no time on the clock – literally – in a 37-34 homecoming victory against North Crowley. The scoreboard clock had gone out, so Mellencamp had to check with an official between each play for time. The winning touchdown came with a half minute to play. It was, and will always be, one of the most exciting finishes I’ve ever seen in a high school football game.
  • The Lipan Indians won the 2005 Class A Division II state basketball championship under now-retired coach Tommy Bleeker. Not only was it an unforgettable moment, but Bleeker, who was just as comfortable sitting on a tractor as a sideline bench, was also an unforgettable character.
  • THINGS SOMETIME GOT WEIRD

  • Once, when covering the Granbury High softball team in a playoff series in Abilene, a fight broke out between two men in the lobby of the hotel in which I was staying. When I asked the clerk at the front desk if we should call the manager, her sheepish reply was, “Uh, sir, that is the manager.”
  • Before GPS became vogue, a trip to Snyder was seeming to take forever. When I finally did turn on the GPS, I realized I was closer to Oklahoma than my destination.
  • WE HELPED SOME FOLKS

  • Expanding the Hood County News Junior Tournament, and most recently joining forces with the First Tee – something to be proud of.
  • Establishing the Hood County News Tennis Festival not only created a wonderful annual event, but also introduced us to the ever-colorful Pecan Plantation pro Gonzalo Nunez.
  • WE MET GREAT athletes/coaches WHO WERE even better PEOPLE

    I could spend the next decade filling this part of the column. There were many who will always be special to me, and you know who you are.

    WE MET NOT-SO-GREAT

    ATHLETES/COACHES, WORSE PEOPLE

    Again, you know who you are.

    WE ENJOYED A GREAT RIDE

    While I am excited about the future and my new gig, I will forever have part of my heart at the HCN and in Granbury. I promised myself I wouldn’t cry writing this, but if the page seems spotted, yes, that is a genuine tear stain.

    It’s not a collector’s item, but that and 10 bucks will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks.

    Paraphrasing a line from a song by one of my favorite performers, Jimmy Buffet, may sum it up best.

    “Some of it’s magic, some of it’s tragic, but I had a good time all the way.”

    [email protected] | 817-573-7066, ext. 256

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    Category: Sports