Heading to Aggieland to honor friends for journalism career achievements, catch some big-time basketball

My good friend and former Dallas Morning News colleague Frank Smith and I will be heading Friday morning to — as many fellow Aggies like to refer to our beloved university — the holy land. We’re making the three-hour drive to join current Texas A&M communications students and former journalism students for a special induction ceremony. (There hasn’t been a journalism department/major at A&M since 2003, but it’s coming back this fall.)

No, Frank (a 1987 grad) and I (a 1983 grad) aren’t the ones being inducted, but a friend of his (whom I’ve met) and a friend of mine are — into the Former Journalism Students Association Hall of Honor, which was created in 1996 and will grow its ranks to 25 with the three new members. The honor recognizes Aggie journalists for outstanding careers in the media, as well as those whose journalism education at A&M led them to great heights in other fields.

I’m thrilled that John P. Lopez, who became a sports writer on the staff of The Battalion, our student newspaper, when I was named sports editor for the spring 1982 semester, is one of the three former students who will be honored Friday afternoon. We had an awesome team that semester — “Lope,” along with the great John Wagner, Denise Sechelski, Joe Tindel and me, blanketed Aggie sports and the Southwest Conference with coverage and embraced the moment we were in and the valuable experience we were gaining.

During my graduating semester in Spring ’83 when I was taking photojournalism, I shot these photos of John and other friends/colleagues at The Battalion.

John, who graduated the year after I did, went on to become a sports writer at the late San Antonio Light, then was an award-winning sports columnist at the Houston Chronicle from 1990 to 2007, where he covered pro sports and built a national reputation. John’s also freelanced for Sports Illustrated, and since 2009, he’s been co-host of a popular morning drive-time sports talk radio show in Houston.

His momentous achievements don’t just involve his career, though. When Hurricane Harvey devastated the Houston area in 2017, John borrowed a boat and helped rescue residents stranded by the flooding. How incredible is that?

Alan Cannon, A&M’s longtime Associate Athletics Director for Athletics Communications who’s been involved in sports information/media relations since he was an A&M student during our college days, will introduce John at Friday’s ceremony/reception. I’m also looking forward to seeing AC for the first time in decades.

More shots of John hard at work in his duties as a sports writer for The Batt.

Frank’s longtime friend and former Batt colleague who’ll be honored is Loren Steffy ’86, who’s had a distinguished career in journalism at the Houston Chronicle, Dallas Times Herald, Bloomberg News, Dallas Business Journal, Texas Monthly, Rational Middle Media and 30 Point Strategies. He also owns a publishing company that focuses on Texas narratives and has authored a novel and five nonfiction books, including two about the late oil magnate T. Boone Pickens and multinational oil/gas company BP. Loren’s produced/hosted podcasts, too — he’s pretty much done it all from a media standpoint. 

The third honoree will be the late Kathryn Greenwade ’88, who passed away last February after a lengthy illness. Kathryn was Vice President for Communications and Human Resources at The Association of Former Students at Texas A&M. She worked for The Association for 22 years, leading its communications and web teams, campus programs including the Aggie Ring Program, advocacy and legislative affairs, and human resources.

From left, this year’s Texas A&M Former Journalism Students Association Hall of Honor inductees are Loren Steffy ’86, John P. Lopez ’84 and Kathryn Greenwade ’88.

According to a story written by Sue Owen ’94 of The Association, before coming to the organization, Kathryn led the former student career services program in the Texas A&M Career Center and worked in marketing and training in Dallas. A third-generation Aggie, she also served the university for 13 years as an academic mentor to Company C-2 in A&M’s Corps of Cadets.

After Friday’s reception, Frank and I will join other visiting alumni at The Dixie Chicken, the beloved Aggie tradition on University Drive across from the north side of campus. I haven’t been there in 40 years, so it’ll be quite the trip down memory lane.

Frank and I plan to stay overnight and attend the No. 24-ranked Aggies’ nationally televised (CBS) basketball showdown against No. 2 Alabama at Reed Arena at 11 a.m. Saturday. Our seats are way up high, but that won’t matter.

It’s the final regular-season game for both teams before the Southeastern Conference tournament, and with Bama embroiled in controversy over a homicide in which one of the team’s former players is accused of the shooting and a current freshman star allegedly delivered the gun, I expect Reed to be even more raucous than usual.

I’ve only been in Reed, which opened in 1998, once — for a February 2010 game against No. 1 Kansas with my friend and former DMN colleague Kevin Lueb. The Aggies, also ranked 24th at tipoff for that one, led most of the way, but the Jayhawks rallied down the stretch to win 59-54. 

Alabama, 26-4 overall, has already clinched the regular-season SEC title with a 16-1 record, and the Aggies (22-8) have wrapped up the No. 2 seed at 14-3. What a huge win it would be for A&M going into next week’s conference tournament to knock off the Crimson Tide, which needs a bit of comeuppance after some of the tone-deaf stuff that’s come out of their camp in recent weeks.

So, gig ’em and huge congratulations to Aggie journalism honorees John, Loren and Kathryn. And let’s go, Ags — BTHO Alabama!  🙂 👍


3 thoughts on “Heading to Aggieland to honor friends for journalism career achievements, catch some big-time basketball

  1. Daughter Amy was a J Grad from A&M (and it looks like they have an up-and-coming basket ball team this season). Sent from AOL on Android

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes indeed, I remember about your daughter! And the Ags do have a great team. I hope they’ll get a good seed in the NCAAs and have a chance to get to the Sweet 16. 🙂

      Like

  2. Congratulations, Frank!!

    I went to the Arkansas game a few weeks ago. Fun time, but lots of changes since we attended “The Holy Land”.

    Non-Reg band rather that BQ’s. It didn’t bother me when they played crap like the theme from Hawaii Five-O or Mandy by Barry Manilow, but it felt a bit disrespectful when they butchered the Aggie War Hymn. You know that old feeling when you watched someone walk across the grass around the MSC?

    Actual cheerleaders at either end of the court in addition to the 3 Yell Leaders.

    NBA style dancers perform at the half.

    Rainbow flags and BLM signs displayed in the windows of the Academic Building.

    I realize I’m about a half step away from becoming the “Hey, you kids get off my lawn” guy, but that school is special partly because its different from every other generic university in the country.

    I hope they aren’t forgetting that.

    Let me know your thoughts when you return from your pilgrimage.

    All the best to you.

    Skippy

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s