Thursday, February 26, 2009

Starting over

Starting a new job, especially when you’re the first one ever, is not as easy as it seems. I only changed jobs twice in my career, once going from sports editor at the Kilgore News-Herald to sports editor of the Longview News-Journal, and one other time from the newspaper business to the sports information business, although both were basically the same.
I’ve probably mentioned before that I thought the pace might be somewhat slower. Boy, was I wrong! Being the SID at LeTourneau University was not easy, especially since I was the school’s FIRST. Before me, the job was handled by students or coaches doubling up. I wound up doing everything nobody else wanted to, it seems. From publicizing all the sports at LeTourneau – we had men’s and women’s golf, tennis, basketball, cross-country, and soccer, plus baseball, softball, volleyball to arranging ticket sales and half-time entertainment.
As sports editor at the newspaper, I had a chance to cover a few sporting events at the university, so I knew a few of the folks and they knew me. It seemed a perfect fit. Little did I know I would be in on the ground floor of changing divisions from NAIA to NCAA Division III and, more importantly, from scholarship to non-scholarship status. I not only had the responsibility of publicizing 11 sports, but selling advertising for 11 sports media guides, taking photos for 11 sports media guides, not to mention beginning individual and career coaching records for all 11.
And LeTourneau had actually begun in 1946. And being that I had a working knowledge of the newspaper, knew all the deadline times and had a few contacts still there, I did all the LeTourneau stories for the paper, too. Mercy.
Oh, we did travel to all the games in one of the finest buses, a big blue and silver monstrosity, complete with a restroom, luggage compartments and all the fancy things you could find in most commercial buses, but not-always so comfortable seating when we had to make a long trip. And we did make some long ones, like to Jackson , TN and Nashville , TN and Cleveland , TN.
The shorter trips weren’t so bad. I remember stopping at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville and the cabbies all around talking about ,”Yeah, that’s named after that LeTourneau fellow …” They meant R.G. LeTourneau, the founder of the school, a remarkable man who began the school for returning servicemen after World War II and the Viet Nam war to go to college and then straight into his plant LeTourneau, Inc.), which built earth-moving machines. Some even were shipped to Nam . Mr. LeTourneau was a philanthropist known for his tithing in church more than what he did for the university. It was said he tithed 90% of his salary and lived on 10%. Nonetheless, he founded a wonderful Christian-related college starting with nothing more than Army barracks. Now the university has some of the finest modern buildings in the area and is one of the nation’s top aeronautical schools around. Next year for the first time it will offer courses in air traffic controlling. Paying attention, Chuck?


At February 26, 2009 at 5:17 PM , Blogger Bill Hinds said...

Well I knew what a LeTourneau was, I knew it was that big machine that scooped up a lot of earth and carried it to a different location. But I didn't know about the man or the school.

Thanks John.

At February 26, 2009 at 5:28 PM , Blogger Glen Lazalier said...

Hey, John, the only thing worse than having too much to do is to not have enough to do. It's better to wear out than to rust out. I've taken the attitude an old preacher once told me when he became "honorably retired". He said, "I'm not being 'retired' so much as being 'retreaded'."

R.G. LeTourneau has been a shining example to a whole lot of folks.

At February 26, 2009 at 9:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess I had forgotten you were the first full-time SID at LeTourneau, John. That is a lot of work to try and compile those historical stats on all sports from scratch. No wonder you retired early. - Jim Patterson


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home