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There are good and bad guys all around

I have been fortunate enough in my sports writing career to meet some incredibly nice people.

They range from professional and collegiate athletes, to high school kids. The coaches are that way too, but most of the ones I’ve dealt with have been high school guys.

I can safely say that just about every high school athlete I have ever interviewed has been great. Some towns and schools, for whatever reason, have been better than others. I have found that kids that grow up in small towns are usually the better interview and are way more polite.

Some, surprisingly, have even thanked me for talking to them. Don’t find that at the college and pro level.

Of course, I’ve met my share of jerks as well. Like most things in life, the bad experiences seem to linger for a while, but are ultimately forgotten.

But there are a few that have stayed with me over the years. Most of those that I have run across at the prep level have been me guys, those that have had everything handed to them at every step of their lives. I have a standard of never saying anything negative about a high school kid, whether they deserve it or not. They are kids, and I try to keep that in mind.

But college guys, and especially pros, they are fair game. As are coaches.

So here are a few jerks that have, for whatever reason, remained jerks in my mind.

Tiger Woods. He was at Stanford when I interviewed him at a college golf tournament in Texas and he is just as you see him on TV; he says nothing. And he acts like he has better things to do, which he probably does. I almost give him a pass.

Barry Switzer. At the time I interviewed him, he was the coach of the Dallas Cowboys. But he was someone I already hated because of his ties to the University of Oklahoma (yes I can, as a Texas grad, hold grudges, forever). He was not happy about Dallas having to fly out to El Paso to play a glorified scrimmage game in the Sun Bowl and made those feelings clear. That is fine, but he went way out of his way to be difficult with the local media when he didn’t need to.

Willie Bloomquist. He was a hometown kid from Port Orchard, Wash., who had made it to the pros as a member of the Seattle Mariners. He was bench player that started maybe once a week, and if you brought that fact up, look out. He is, or at least was, the definition of an egomaniac.

Of all three, Bloomquist was the biggest horse's backside, and what made it even worse, he didn’t have the baseball credentials to be one.

The negative ones stay in your mind, but it’s the really incredibly nice people that you remember the most.

So here are a few that stand out to me.

Gary Gaines. The former head coach of the Odessa (Tex.,) Permian football team that was the basis of the book and film "Friday Night Lights" (and my alma mater). I don’t think I have ever met a nicer man, regardless of the situation.

Mike Reilly. At the time he and I crossed paths, he was the record-breaking quarterback at Central Washington University. He is now playing in the Canadian Football League with Edmonton.

Every interview I ever did with Mike, or heard him give, was gold. He always gave thoughtful, heartfelt answers and he always had time to talk. If you asked him to call, he always did.

To me, Reilly is the definition of class.

Jim Edmonds. The former MLB outfielder was a quick-rising star in the California Angels farm system when I first met him as a centerfielder for the Midland (Tex.) Angels. His stay at the Double A level was a brief one, but he was always gracious to me. As a cub reporter fresh out of college, that was very cool.

There are many others I could have listed here. And now I have a new one to add.

Bud Beamer.

I met Dr. Beamer a few weeks ago, knowing next to nothing about him or his family.

It was about a week before the annual Todd Beamer Memorial Run, and Bud came down to the paper and told me the story of how he lost Todd. I know he has had to tell it way too many times and I could see the pain in his face and hear the hurt in his voice.

But he relayed the story of his son with grace and humor. And then the day of the run, he was nothing but accommodating to me.

Before I had met Dr. Beamer, someone told me he had a Jimmy Stewart quality about him. I found that to be right on.

He may be one of the nicest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. And one of the most inspirational.

He has turned a family tragedy into a way to bring a community together for the betterment of the community. And these days, that is rare.

He has, in my view, had reasons to bail on this place. But he seems determined to stay and be a factor in Madras.

He raises money for scholarships that are given to local kids and provides a platform for one of the more popular community running events of the year.

And he does it with style and class.

I don’t know who Dr. Beamer would replace on my list of my favorites, but he deserves a place on that list.

We, as a community, are lucky to have him. And I am glad to have met him.

Jeff Wilson is the sports editor of the Madras Pioneer and is really tired of the smoke. It’s not good for his golf game.



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