The moment I entered Flamson Middle School’s football field and saw the stadium lights radiate off of the grass on Aug. 28, some deep thoughts started to cloud my head as I watched Clovis and Paso Robles kick off the football season.
I carry those same thoughts as I type this out because this actually has been a weekend full of emotions. I’m usually not one to talk about myself, especially since I run a blog that puts student-athletes on a platform to get noticed, plus I spend most of my hours talking about what’s going in the sports world.
But an array of emotions engulfed me after that Clovis/Paso Robles game and the events that occurred in the journalism world earlier this week. These emotions surfaced for a good reason and has given me the reminder to love a great number of things.
I’ve endured some turbulent times in the past year. Some people who I thought I was close to, and who told me they were on my side, wound up trying to run me out from what I loved to do and told me that I was no longer good enough. Then in December, I finally found out what it was like to have a death nail hover over me, as I started to lose movement in my joints and ligaments, lost my appetite and got confined to a hospital bed. As tears flooded my eyes, I started wondering if I had wrote my last story, evaluated my last prospect and if I had breathed my last breath. My feeling was I had gotten ALS, which was the only virus I can think of that gets everything in your body to shut down.
But through prayers, encouragement from a wonderful group of people and a desire to get back at doing what I loved, I got out of that hospital bed in a short span of time. Still’s disease was what I received, which is nothing like ALS and is in the arthritis family. While the disease remains inside of me, it never controls me because I’ve learned how to combat it.
Clovis/Paso Robles was my first game since being diagnosed with Still’s. That game gave me the opportunity - and the honor - to help my colleagues at The Fresno Bee with providing updates. Plus that game got me to add new feature pieces to Cali Gold Mine. More important, the non-league battle was my first story in the aftermath of a national tragedy.
I don’t know anyone at WDBJ in Virginia. I didn’t know Alison Parker or Adam Ward. But I can relate to them. Alison and Adam were in the same field I’m in. Their job was to let their community know what’s going on. Their murders sent shockwaves across the nation, and I felt those waves. Alison and Adam were just doing their normal routine on the day they were taken away.
Their deaths could’ve scared off anyone in the media field and tell people no one is safe. But you know what? The football field and any sporting event will always be therapeutic for me. I did what millions of journalists did after the WDBJ tragedy: went to work and chased down stories, as a way to honor Alison and Adam plus prove that evil will never, ever prevail.
This industry isn’t an easy one regardless if you’re a freelance writer or TV personality. As it is, one of my friends in Fresno received a racist message recently. But I applaud him for shaking off that hater quickly and continued to share the news to his community. I’ve dealt with my share of unstable people; from coaches, parents trying to live through their kids, or hostile fans. But I remind myself that there’s no better feeling in the world than to put out a story or photo and see your name attached to it. Another awesome feeling is looking around at your association, and realize you’re surrounded by people who are on TV or writing for newspapers.
But what I love the most – now more than ever – is the praise I get from others. From Texas to California, I’m always honored when somebody shares my features and tells me that they admire my quality of work. You people help drive me every day to be the best version of myself. You’re the reason why CGM still exists and why I continue to press on in this evolving industry.
To everyone who has read my work over the years, I thank you. To everyone who has been supportive since day one, sometimes ‘Thank You’ isn’t enough and you deserve a hug from me.
A disease and a disturbed former news reporter didn’t stop me from doing what I love. And I’m glad the Virginia tragedy didn’t stop my media family.
Thanks and God bless!