Everyone has someone to offer a thanks to

by Tommy Wells

With Teacher Appreciation Week at hand, it is a great time to thank the men and women who work tirelessly to give our children the educational foundation they will need to enter the workforce or head off to college. Truly, it is a calling that is worthwhile, and one that can have a huge impact on a person's life.

Such is the case with myself. First, let me assure you, I was tiny in high school ... so even though I was a huge sports fan, I came to know really quickly that I was never going to score a touchdown or hit a home run to give ol' Ranger a win over our hated rivals in Eastland or Cisco. I was that student that didn't show up for anything or turn too much in. In all honesty, I was probably headed down the path of being a dropout. Fortunately for me, Jackie Stephens stepped in - when he didn't have to. As I said, even though I played every sport, I was never going to be a star athlete or help the Bulldogs win. Trust me when I tell you, I was probably the worst athlete to ever grace the halls of ol' Ranger High School. I know you're thinking, he couldn't have been that small or bad ... I was. One day, I'll have to tell you how I helped our team get into a 1-40 situation ...

As it was, Coach Stephens wouldn't let me slip into the cracks. As the school's English teacher, he told our class he was starting a school paper (as part of the Ranger Times paper) and that we would be writing articles. It didn't take me too long to realize that even though I could run like Darrel Fox or dribble like Gerald Lewis, I could write about them doing it. Because of that, I stayed in school. After I had done a few, Coach went out of his way to approach the owner of the paper, H.V. O'Brien, about me writing sports for the paper. My goodness, I was getting paid to go watch games.

Coach Stephens' efforts led to a long career to me and, in a way, saved my life. I went from becoming a dropout candidate to a person who found their path. After graduating, I took a job with the Breckenridge American and met my soon-to-be wife at the half of a football game shortly afterward. From there, I moved onto the positions with other papers, covered the Dallas Cowboys and San Antonio Riders (of the defunct World League of American Football, and bought several newspapers.

All because of a teacher.

Tommy Wells is the editor of The McGregor Mirror.