Covering sports for a living is cool, truth be told.
Sometimes I feel as though I’ve conned the cosmos; I wake up every day and do for a living what I want to wake up every day and do in my life: watch sports.
However, the joy of that superficiality isn’t what keeps me in it, an unexpected byproduct does: relationships and telling the stories of those I’ve built them with.
When I got word Saturday that Dawson County coach Jed Lacey had died, I thought of one close-knit community, three people and what truly keeps me wanting to continue covering sports.
Lacey was a dynamo on spec; Red Bull personified. He was energetic and passionate, sometimes loud, most times funny, at all times engaging and engaged. But mostly coach Lacey embodied the phrase “in it for the right reasons.”
Impacting lives and mentoring young people was at the forefront of Lacey’s mind and heart, not winning or advancement. It was evident every time he deflected attention away from his coaching and toward his players, every time he mentioned their off-the-field prowess, every time he lit up talking about just getting to hang out with his athletes; that coaching and teaching for him were about impacting and mentoring.
There have been and will be plenty of coaches who, in death, will be referred to with stats, remembered in wins and losses as though they make the man. Referring to and remembering coach Lacey solely with numbers reflective of his teams’ on-field success is a disrespectful reduction of the man.
For those reasons, my heart aches for the close-knit Dawson County community, and my heart breaks for his family.
Today, three people I covered as part of my job who I’ll never let go of, never forget, became four: Brian Ernst, LeeAnn Noble, Keaton Coker…and now Jed Lacey.
You see, there’s an unexpected byproduct of the unexpected byproduct that keeps me covering sports, sometimes after the relationship has been built and a story has been told, in a cruel and far-too-soon manner, death sweeps in.
While mortality is reality, I pray the fifth name doesn’t come soon.
My life is far more blessed, however, thanks to the addition of the relationships and the stories of those four; here’s to countless more.