I was standing on the sidelines of the Othello homecoming game Friday night watching this ball boy trying to spin the ball on his finger. That's too tempting, gotta get a shot of that.
I hit a couple of frames and showed him as I walked past on my way to the other end of the field. “Hey, you're good,” he said.
That got me to thinking. My mom was like that, had a way of making everybody in the room feel like they were the most important person in her life. She had this way of connecting through positive energy. She listened and good listeners make good friends.
If relationships are all that matter in the end, why not make them count now? I've been here a couple of years, so let's shake the Rodney Harwood notebook and see what falls out.
It's been a couple of years now, but I had a chance to watch then-Moses Lake senior Elly Johnson throw the discus. Elly was so much better than the field that it was pretty evident anything she put between the lines was going to win. Having covered John Godina during his illustrious high school and UCLA career, I had some idea of what good technique and competitive tenacity was all about. Godina, a four-time World Champion and two-time Olympic medalist, went on to become one of the most decorated throwers in track-and-field history.
We just talked about the disc on a warm day out on the Chiefs' throwing ring. As I turned to leave, Elly said, “I never did get your name?” Elly's throwing down at University of New Orleans now. That was a good day to talk track and field.
I've always enjoyed my conversations with Moses Lake senior Anna Fair. Anna's on the Chiefs' record board over at Tony St. Onge Pool of Dreams, hoping to put her name up next to the 100 butterfly record before it's all said and done. Anna's wise beyond her years, all 17 of ‘em. She's been through some things I can't imagine with the death of her father and the passing of a close friend.
She said something to me I hope I never forget, “I've been more compassionate and I'm definitely more aware of how others feel,” she said. “I just don't want people to go unnoticed.”
I didn't get a chance to watch Hunter Boyd pitch in high school, but we've had some great conversations during the summer with the Columbia Basin River Dogs. He had two dominant games in his final Senior Babe Ruth World Series, pitching the defending national champions into the title game against Alabama a couple years ago. I caught up with Hunter last summer, he'd finished up his career at Yakima Valley Community College and was throwing for the Wenatchee AppleSox. “It's not minor league ball, but you're living in your uniform and sleeping on the bus. It's been a lot of fun,” he said.
The experiences go on and on. I asked Ephrata senior Jakob Oxos which he liked better, burying 3-point shots or catching touchdown passes. The fact he had to think about it made me smile. Ya see, I've seen the Tigers on a 3-on-1 fastbreak get the ball to Jake on the wing. Rather than drive it to the hole, he'll step back beyond the arch so he can drain the trey. “They're both fun.”
The golf last spring was spectacular with both Kenedee Peters of Ephrata and Othello freshman Patrick Azevedo winning 2A state medalist honors on the same day. But the shot I remember most was Azevedo standing over a ball he had driven 300-plus yards into the right rough. From my perch on the first tee at The Creek at Qualchan Golf Course in Spokane, I could see Pat was going to let it all hang out with a shot to the green with the medalist championship hanging in the balance. He had to hit a cut fade from what looked like 180-190 out. If it didn't bend or he came up short, the title hopes would go with it. The shot was golden, ended up at the edge of the green. He chipped on and made birdie to win the 2A state championship. Our conversation was more eye contact. “Hey, you're good,” comes to mind.
I think we can all do a better job bringing a positive attitude to the game, being a little more complimentary, less grading. It all starts by listening to what others are saying.
Rodney Harwood is a sports writer with the Columbia Basin Herald and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org@columbiabasinherald.com