Centershots: Impacting Others

Last week I received an anonymous card at work from an 80-year-old Racer fan. The delicate writing was signed by “One of the Racer Nation,” and encouraged me on my journey to greater challenges. It was one of the top 10 moments for me as sports editor and reminded me of what each of us do every day: impact others whether we realize it or not.

The anonymous Racer fan was impacted greatly by the men’s basketball team this year, as were thousands of others. But the team is not the only thing making an effect this year.

When I sat down to write this, my final column for The News, I was going to write about the impact and influence Murray State has had in my life during my time as sports editor but I couldn’t seem to put it onto paper. So many things have happened over the last year that I can’t seem to orchestrate the letters or form the words to best articulate what this University and the people who make up Racer Nation mean to me.

When I was in high school, I planned on coming to Murray to shoot on the rifle team with ambitions of one day competing in the Olympics, but because of a shoulder injury it became apparent that God had other plans.

In his plan he arranged it so that I would not be competing for Murray State like I had always thought but instead writing about the ones competing. Looking back, I wouldn’t reverse the two for anything in the world.

This season of Racer history is forever etched in my heart and has been filled with unexpected adventures, joy and unforgettable memories as well as humbling challenges, lessons learned and character built through adversity.

I’ll never forget sitting on press row during games and looking around the CFSB Center filled to the max with screaming fans or sitting on the Racer bench before practice interviewing Zay as Jaylen made heart signs with his hands trying to distract him, or hearing Ivan talk about being a big brother on the team or witnessing their obvious love for each other.

I’ll never forget receiving a call from the Associated Press in December asking me to cover the Racers as long as they were ranked, only expecting it to be for a couple weeks and never imagining the season to impact the fans or record books the way it did. I’ll never forget the surreal moment when I saw stories I wrote show up on ESPN, Sports Illustrated and The New York Times.

More than that, I’ll never forget Coach Prohm praying with the team before practices or Donte and Jewuan talking about how his relationship with God translates into his coaching, or crying in the locker room after the Marquette loss as Harley hugged me and I realized it was my last game, last interview, last everything for the paper.

Despite its tremendous season, the men’s basketball team isn’t the only thing leaving a permanent imprint on my heart.

I’ll never forget crying on the phone with Scott McGurk days after his son, freshman baseball player Thomas McGurk, died in a car wreck or meeting him for the first time months later when he came to the ‘Breds’ home opener. I’ll never forget going to softball games with a group of friends and jamming to the team’s walkout songs or talking to soccer goalie Yi Du about her journey from China to the States or building relationships with other local media who have influenced me more than they know, especially Dusty Schull at The Paducah Sun and Tom Annino at WPSD.

These things and more have impacted me during my time writing about the Racers. There have been ups and downs, lots of maturity and growth and more laughter and memories made than I could list in five columns.

My time at The News has flown by and there is a lump forming in my throat as my heart tries to process the fact that this is my final column and my final words for the paper I’ve come to love so much. I can only hope that in my time as a reporter at Murray State, these words have impacted a fraction of the people that have impacted me.

So to each of you who wear the blue and gold and even some of you who don’t, thank you for making my time at Murray an unbelievably blessed experience I will never forget.

My encouragement to you is to do the things you’ve always wanted to. Don’t waste your life or compare yourselves to others, because this is your journey and it isn’t a competition. Don’t believe everything you think and don’t give up something you want most for something you want now.

Remember that wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, no matter how old or young you may be, you are impacting those around you either positively or negatively, so be a positive difference in lives.

As Benjamin Franklin once said: “We constantly change the world, even by our inaction. Therefore, let us change it responsibly.”