|Shawn and Steve-ORU Hall of Fame Night|
The folks I've met due to working in sports have changed my life forever. Lorena Rivas snapped this photo. She is my wife and lifelong companion, and sits at the top of that growing list. If I hadn't married her, we might never have ended up in Tulsa. She needed a law school to attend, and wound up at the University of Tulsa after I landed a radio gig at an all-sports station solely because of good friend and current ORU radio voice Geoff Haxton. Haxton worked in Enid at the same I worked in Woodward (place I met my wife, she's from Mutual-tiny hamlet with a population of not much more than 50). Haxton ended up moving from Enid to Tulsa for a gig with ORU. He then started working at the station that later brought me on board based on his recommendation. Back in 2007, Rogers State was searching for play-by-play announcers because the school was about to launch its new basketball programs. Ironically, Geoff and I both worked RSU games that first season before he added ORU men's duties to his plate. The man chosen to serve as our color commentator for Hillcat hoops was named Steve Bontrager. Steve played at ORU and later served as the Golden Eagles color guy for several seasons. He's made his living teaching the youth of Green Country the great game of basketball. Well, this past Saturday night Steve was inducted into the ORU Athletics Hall of Fame. It was long overdue. His dedication to the sport and the people who want to be involved with it should put him in the national hall of fame.
Steve has graced me with his presence for the last 8 years. He is my broadcast partner in every sense of the word. He has taught me way more about the game than I ever thought was possible. More important, though, he has continued to teach me that my life in sports broadcasting is made that much better because of people like him. His friendship and kindness make each game we work together more fulfilling. It gives me a sense of purpose. It makes me feel like what we do is noble. There was a time early on in my career when I thought I wanted to give up on sportscasting and focus on a profession that might be deemed more suitable for helping the masses. Boy, am I glad that urge was a small one and quickly faded into the background. There are people in my life today that I cannot envision being without. If I had decided I was done with the dreams of my childhood after just a year or two in the industry, influential people like those I just mentioned would never have crossed my path. I am a better person because of them. I hope they feel the same about me.