‘Huddle with Harris’ is a blog of personal opinion, providing food for thought on a variety of sports topics. Disagreement with the chronology of words below is alright, after all, this is “Murica”
It happened after purchasing a ticket to see that summer blockbuster about an amphibious, reptilian monster.
A man behind me said, “Excuse me, did you play baseball at Houston Academy?”
(Insert being taken for a high-schooler joke here)
Caught off-guard at first, I looked down and quickly realized I was wearing my royal blue Houston Academy state baseball shirt.
I was tempted to play along and say, “Yeah” (And then start loudly singing ‘We are the Champions’ by Queen)
But I didn’t.
But ya know, I wish I did play on that Houston Academy state championship team.
Hell, I wish I played on any high school sports team around here because there’s nothing like high school athletics.
Sure, I enjoy telling sports-related human interest stories.
Yeah, I have a blast writing and doing game-highlights on TV.
But a lot of the passion for what I do is fueled by getting to know the high school athletes and coaches I cover.
Each high school team, regardless of their success-level, has a unique personality.
Within the team personality are endless individual personalities that span from entertaining to slightly intimidating.
Hey, persuading 17 year olds that lift 550-plus pounds with ease to talk on camera would intimidate you too.
This post isn't just an ode to the Houston Academy Raiders and their 7 seniors.
It's an expression of appreciation and respect to Rehobeth, their 8 seniors and Coach Matt Ream.
To Coach Lee Hall, the Northview Cougars and their 13 seniors.
To Coach Nikki Long, the G.W. Long Rebels and her 3 seniors.
To Coach Scott Parker and his Headland Lady Rams.
It almost doesn't seem right to only name a few because the names of great coaches and great teams we cover at WTVY is endless.
This post is an ode to all of the coaches and teams I cover who make it fun.
And they all do in some form or fashion.
As far as the Houston Academy Raiders, they finished (33-5) as state champions after finishing (8-20) the season before.
Crazy single-season turnaround.
But a fun and unique aspect of the Raiders team that never showed up in the stat line was their mascot, “Plank”
Senior Kade Oliver created plank in class at school one day.
Players personified a faded piece of wood with eyes and a line-smile and treated him like a member of the team.
That’s so awesome.
As a Raider I would have been like Tom Hanks in Castaway, talking to Plank like Hanks did to Wilson.
I can’t grow facial hair the way Hanks did for that role, like a grizzly mountain-man, but I still would have been chatting with an inanimate object with a name.
If other teams thought I looked crazy, good. Gives us a mental advantage.
Opponent Player 1: “Hey, you hear about that Houston Academy team?"
Opponnent Player 2: "Yeah, what about em?"
Opponent Player 1: "They have this player named Matt Harris who sits in the dugout and talks to a piece of wood. The whole game.”
Opponent Player 2: "Does he even play?"
Opponent Player 1: "No."
Yeah, I would be that guy.
You think it matters? No.
If you think it does you're taking life way too seriously.
It’s all in good fun.
It’s creative, it’s comical, it’s the epitome of high school sports.
Covering these teams in the moments when they have fun, laugh and joke is contagious.
I live vicariously through the high school athletes I cover.
Their journey, individually and as a team, playing high school athletics is a one-time ride.
Covering them is too.
Of course winning and losing matters.
If winning didn’t matter we wouldn’t keep score.
Thank you Vince Lombardi for that golden nugget.
It’s knowing that these players are making life-long memories in the midst of playing a game that is personally invigorating.
There’s no shoe-contracts. There’s no NCAA. There’s no ESPN.
It's about being the best. Pure and simple.
To me it doesn’t matter whether they sign a Division-1 scholarship, go play junior college ball, or hang up their cleats after high school.
I want to show highlights of as many athletes from as many high schools as humanly possible.
At the end of the day I hope every athlete achieves their ultimate athletic goals.
For me, what really matters is knowing most are learning valuable lessons about the game within a game.
And for anyone who has played sports before knows exactly what I mean.
The time-commitment, the hard work at your craft, the time management between practice, games, school work and everything else all carries over to the game of life.
Getting the opportunity to know these players as they realize and experience that is fulfilling.
Five series sweeps and a state title later, the Raiders are going to retire Plank.
Like the high school players I cover, I’m thankful I was able to interview Plank in the prime of his high school career.
Oh and by the way, Godzilla was great, go see it if you like action.