I had a good time catching up with former Laurel Hill basketball star Brad Reese in a phone interview last month.
Brad is one of my Facebook friends and I’ve managed to follow his basketball and personal journey via that social network, but there’s nothing like talking with someone, even in a phone interview, from the other side of the world.
I try not to play favorites in this job, but there are certain athletes whom I can’t help liking a little more than others.
Some of those young men or women, such as Brad, have overcome numerous obstacles in life to achieve a level of success on and off the playing field.
That deserves a bit of extra recognition.
Other athletes have a personality that draws people to them and it’s impossible not to like them. Brad has achieved that level of success and has a personality that sets him apart from so many young people I cover.
Maybe I’m continually drawn back to Brad’s story because I spent a couple of days shadowing him for a story during his senior year in high school in January of 2006.
Seven years later, I still think about how little kids were drawn to Brad — the proverbial big man on campus — and how he took time to interact with each of them.
I remember the good things Brad’s teachers said about him. And I watched as, although the best player on the team, he made sure towels were out for his teammates before a big game.
Brad has always had a confidence about him, but never a sense of arrogance. He understands that he has special skills, but those skills must continually be refined.
While Brad might be on the other side of the world, a large part of his heart remains here in Okaloosa County. During our recent conversation, he asked about his beloved Hoboes and about Crestview’s Denzel Ware, Blake and Dakota Dean and others.
Brad Reese is one of those rare people who find as much joy out of others’ success as he does his own success. He wants the Baker Gators and Crestview Bulldogs to succeed almost as much as he wants Laurel Hill to do well.
As his agent confirmed to me in an email, Brad loves his hometown area.
Brad is one of many special athletes who have come through this area in my 12-plus years with the Northwest Florida Daily News and News Bulletin. Too often, I lose track of the young people I’ve had the opportunity to cover, and sometimes wonder where they might be.
I’m fortunate to have kept up with Brad as he has stepped into the adult world. It’s always exciting watching young people grow and be successful whether in sports, life or both.
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at email@example.com, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524