I started working for the athletic department as a sophomore during the spring semester of 2011, initially as an intern for my communications practicum.
This opportunity combined two of my favorite pastimes – traveling and sports – and I did plenty of traveling and attended plenty of sporting events, seeing all the ups and downs of Highland Cavalier athletics over the past couple years.
My favorite moment has to be “The Play” during the 2011 football season in the final installment of the Southwest Virginia Bowl versus Emory and Henry.
I can still see Marcus Bratton making a heroic charge up the field after receiving the punt; he had the blockers as he angled off to his right side.
Then it was as if God was smiling down on Carl Smith Stadium. Just as Bratton fell to the ground, Josh Wright came out of nowhere to take the ball off the lateral all the way into the end zone.
I was so excited that I forgot to do my one job that night and change the scoreboard.
You can still hear my excited cackle in the background of the radio broadcast.
The feeling on that September evening will never be duplicated, as Head Coach Dewey Lusk took down his alma mater in stunning fashion.
Another memorable moment came out of great tragedy. While the campus mourned the loss of Chancellor David J. Prior on Feb. 3, 2012, the basketball teams traveled to Shawnee State.
The men’s team played inspired ball, forcing overtime after James Turner, trying to inbound the ball, heaved a pass the length of the court which ricocheted off the backboard and fell into the hands of Norris Gaskins.
Gaskins missed the shot, but was fouled on the play, he made two clutch free throws as the team outlasted the Bears in the extra session 95-92.
The men’s basketball team has served up some major upsets, especially since moving into the Convocation Center.
Last season’s highlight was the surprising upset of No. 8 Lindsey Wilson, where Lee Clark’s crew extracted some revenge against the good folks from Columbia, Ky.
This year, I’ll never forget the upset over the previously unbeaten and eleventh ranked NCAA DII Lincoln Memorial. This was a joy to watch, a true nail-biter as both duked it out into overtime. Darius Smith split a pair of free throws and the Cavs came out on top.
The men also embraced the No.1 team in the NAIA in the University of the Cumberland this season and the Cavs were in control the entire time, winning 69-54.
This year the women defeated the second-ranked Shawnee State Bears, 63-42. It was the highest ranked opponent the Cavs had beaten in the program’s history.
During the 2011 Mid South Conference tournament, I saw a masterful pitching performance from Ryan Crosby, as he took a no-hitter into the eighth inning, as UVa-Wise defeated Georgetown 1-0.
It has been a joy to cover the softball team this year for The Highland Cavalier as well. They have truly had a great season as they earned a 30-win season.
As for me, these are some of the memories I will never forget. They hold a special place in memory that I will always cherish.