Hall of Honor
I am much better at writing than I am speaking, and today I tried with all my might to convey so many thoughts, but I feel like much is left unsaid. With that, I am going to share the bulk of my Hall of Honor speech, but also my true thoughts and emotions on this amazingly humbling occasion.
I tried to wrack my brain for stories to share during my speech, but I couldn’t come up with just one or two. You’d think after taking 6 years to go through school you would have enough to talk for hours. I can remember specific games or stories off the field with my friends, but nothing I thought symbolized my career at UT. When I discussed it with friends two themes kept popping up:
1. My undying love for the University of Texas and
2. How much I firmly believe my career would not have taken the path it did if I had chose to go anywhere else.
I will forever say I was Coach Clark’s easiest recruit. I decided in 4th grade I wanted to go to UT, but I don’t know if there was any real reason. If I had to guess, a friend of mine wanted to go to A&M, and I just wanted to be difficult or different! Softball wasn’t even in the picture then, so just think how easy a sell UT was once that yellow ball was in the picture! My time on 40 acres was filled with many wins, some losses, ups and downs, but what it game me is something I never dreamt of, and something I can never repay for.
Being a Longhorn puts you on a stage for the world to see; it gives you a platform to become something more than just another student athlete. Between the amount of TV exposure the University gets and the nation wide base of fans… correction world wide base of fans… being a Longhorn opens so many doors. I honestly believe my time here catapulted my career to a height I didn’t imagine. I had a dream to make the 2008 Olympic team. I firmly believe that my first two years at Texas forced me to grow and develop to be ready for that feat in 2004. Had I not been thrown into the fire so quickly, would that have been possible? I’m not so sure. For opportunities like that, I will be forever grateful.
I have to thank my family, mom, dad and my two brothers for their undying support. They along with my grandmother, who passed away, have been my number on fans. They followed me around the country every summer to watch me play, and help me achieve my dream to be a Longhorn. They’ve seen 1000 games, and will be there for a few more. From my dad I learned what it means to give 100%, I learned a work ethic that many have complemented. From my mom I learned what unconditional love is, and determination. Believe it or not, I learn a lot listening to you talk about your job, and I’m inspired more than you know.
Randa Ryan and her academic staff, thank you for your continuous support! It took 6 years, and A LOT of study hall time, but I did it! We got me across that stage.
Amy Folan and UT’s compliance office! Thank you for making my “red-shirt” year possible and making sure every thing I did was legal!
My teammates and friends, I know I can be difficult, so I cannot thank you enough for standing beside me along this amazing journey, for pushing, and more importantly understanding me and everything that encompassed my life.
Last but definitely not least, Coach Clark, Coach Looper, and Coach Hill… thank you for expecting the most out of me, pushing me to reach limits I didn’t think of. Coach you joke about my check list of things I wanted to accomplish, but you didn’t let me settle for anything less. You all taught me more than just the game, you taught me about life, and helped me grow into more than a player, but the person I am.
I want to share a story from when I lived in Chicago. I was shopping on Michigan Avenue one day, in street clothes, when I man comes running up to me. He’s frantic, saying “I know you… I know you…. You’re that pitcher from Texas!” I looked him in the eye and said “yes sir, I am ‘that pitcher from Texas’” and I can stand here and say I will always be proud to have that title! Hook ‘Em!!
Granted my speech didn’t come out as smoothly as writing it did, but I truly believe I was destined to be a Longhorn, and I am so proud to say I bleed burnt orange forever. I will forever be indebted to UT for what it gave me, and will continue to represent my University with pride.