Now, I am not what you might call a sports nut. In a day gone by, I used to collect baseball and basketball cards, and I had a head for stats. However, I got into computers, and that pretty much ended that. Either that, or my stint in Little League did it. Regardless, I’m not terribly into sport. However, when I turned on the news Sunday afternoon, things became a bit surreal.
The reports said that a former football player from my alma matter, Thomas Herrion, had died after a game against the Denver Broncos. That didn’t seem terribly affecting… people die all the time, and of course that is sad, but life goes on, right? However, when they mentioned his age, so close to mine, my ears perked. With the display of his photo, my attention was sharply focused—I recognised him.
Some might say that going to a school with a sports program such as the U has would create a high probability of seeing, knowing or at least running into some of the student/athletes… at least some of the time. Not true, in this case. I often remarked to friends how we never saw any of the “big name” athletes—or even the lesser known ones, for that matter—walking around campus. With as big a deal as Salt Lake makes out of college sports, those faces and names become ingrained in your memory. But despite classes all over the campus, despite have gone to high school with some, I never saw any of them. Anywhere.
Herrion was different. While I never met the man, I saw him at least once or twice a week. Walking through campus, eating lunch with friends in the union… you know, regular stuff. The kind of times you expected to see all those other student athletes. Granted, he may have just stuck out in my mind due to his large stature (my five feet and ten inches had nothing on him)—or perhaps it was something else.
My most vivid memory of the man is that he always seemed to be having the time of his life. Every time I recall seeing him, he was smiling and joking with someone, often enough with enough volume that everyone had to turn and look.
Now, like I said, I never met the man. I didn’t know him, nor had I really ever watched him play the game. Yet I learned enough about the man—just by simple observations walking to class—to know he had a great soul and the world is a better place for having had him.