Five Minutes of Prayer: Wetumpka, Alabama, One Year Later

This time a year ago, i was unsure of what to expect, meteorologists had been talking all week about possible tornadoes in Central Alabama.

They mentioned that they could be life-threatening, so I was preparing for the worst, but hoping for the best.

That afternoon, the skies were covered in clouds that you would only see in a horror movie. I grabbed the dogs, my brother, and his girlfriend, and we sprinted to the hall bathroom.

My dad wasn’t home, he was eating at a local sports bar called “Coaches Corner” or just “Coaches” to the locals.

Just as the three of us and the dogs were able to get the bathroom door closed, the wind began to pick up, throwing things around outside.

It was at this time, that I was sure that the tornado would hit our house, so I did what any Christian would do, I closed my eyes and began to pray.

I prayed to God for about five minutes, I prayed for my hometown, my family, co-workers, and friends. But most of all I prayed that He would keep us all safe and unharmed.

After five minutes of praying, I opened my eyes, and everything was eerily silent and still.

The maximum wind speed just five minutes earlier was 135 miles-per-hour, the damage path length, 18.18 miles.

One historic church in the heart of downtown was, for the most part, completely destroyed.

Another church just a few yards away, had it’s steeple swallowed in the wind, the senior center was demolished, and so much more was destroyed, including homes.

But by the Grace of God, nobody was killed and only four people were injured.

Be thankful for what you have and the history that your hometown has. It can all be changed in just five minutes.

Picture: First Presbyterian Church of Wetumpka built back in 1836.

Picture: God appears in the clouds above First Presbyterian as people pray. This was one of very few things left of this historic church.

The Iron Bowl: A Rivalry Like None Other

We all know what the Iron Bowl is so there’s no need to explain it, but in case you’ve been living under a rock for the past 83 years, I’ll explain what the Iron Bowl is.

It needs no introduction, it’s the one time a year where families can’t get along, friends become enemies and enemies become friends.

And it’s all because of one thing around the State of Alabama, bragging rights. People talk about this game 24/7, 365 and everybody across the state is tuned into the same game at the same time, every year.

It’s all the bad blood between these two bitter rivals that makes this game what it is. Not to mention the amount of memorable moments from this game that have stood the test of time.

Plays like, “The Kick Six”, “The Camback”, “Bo Over the Top” and Van Tiffin’s kick 34 years ago in 1985 among many, many others.

Teams often claim to have a better rivalry than Alabama, Auburn and the Iron Bowl, but the Iron Bowl is quite clearly the most-bitter, most-historic rivalry in the nation, and anybody from the South will tell you that same thing if you ask them.

Sure, there are rivalry games that have been played more than the Iron Bowl, but when it comes to historic moments, nothing comes close to touching the Iron Bowl.

These two teams simply hate each other, absolutely no love is lost, it’s the one game a year where you can throw everything including the kitchen sink out of the window as you travel down the road, so you can watch it shatter.

Over the past 83 years the Iron Bowl has emanated from several different places and cities around the state. Those places include, Birmingham’s Legion Field, Montgomery’s Cramton Bowl, Tuscaloosa’s Bryant-Denny Stadium, and Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium.

But something will be a little different this year, for the first time since 2002, the iconic golden voice of Rod Bramblett won’t be heard over the radio waves.

Instead, Rod’s best friend Andy Burcham will have the call alongside Stan White on the Auburn Sports Network.

This game is bound to have its own historic moments I’m sure, so prepare yourselves, we’ll have our hands full Saturday at 2:30pm CT in the 84th Iron Bowl. Picture: AL.com.

Saying See You Later to the Last Dog That Saw Me Grow Up

11 years ago, I was thrilled to be getting a new dog. I have always loved dogs, I don’t know if it’s because I have been around them my entire life, if it’s because they’ve comforted me in the times when I needed it the most.

This morning I got the news that my chihuahua named “Siddalee” after Siddalee Walker on “YaYa Sisterhood” that we got as a Mother’s Day for my mom in 2008, will gain her wings this afternoon and go be with Jesus in Doggy Heaven. This one is especially hard for me because Sidda has been there for me through some of the toughest times in my life. She’s helped cure me when I was sick, helped heal me when I was hurting.

She never seemed to have a problem making things better and easier for me over the past 11 years. For the past month she has been dealing with abscess tooth, even after having all but one tooth pulled months ago.

I went Monday night to visit her one last time and she seemed to be in good spirits that night despite no longer being able to jump around like the Energizer Bunny. As hard as it is, I know that this for the better.

She will no longer be in pain, no more sickness only happiness. She will also be with her other three four-legged brothers in the presence of God. What a reunion that will be. Thank you for everything, Sidda. I’ll see you on the other side soon.

Nice to See You Again, Old Friend

About two weeks ago, I was heading to Alpharetta, Georgia and I passed the place where I spent a large amount of my time growing up, Turner Field, now known as Georgia State Stadium, since it is the home of the Georgia State Panthers football. I still call it Turner Field, though, because that’s what I’ve always known it as. I witnessed many victories inside those friendly confines and very few losses. In fact, a few months ago, I did the math, and I realized that I had been to 42 Braves games, 41 of which game at Turner Field. The Braves home record when I attend is 31-10. I like to think of myself as the Braves ‘good luck charm’. Because they almost never lose when I’m in attendance. As I passed the stadium, I was suddenly taken back to my childhood, I felt the thrill that I felt as a little kid, I felt like a kid in a candy store all over again. I’ve seen so many Braves greats take the field there. I was taken back to when I was little and we would pull up to the stadium and I would blurt out the ESPN theme song, I could hear Crazy Train over the PA system in my head as I passed it. So many great memories were made there. I never visited the stadium when I didn’t thoroughly enjoy myself. It was like I was a little kid again for that split-second. So many life-long friends were made inside those four walls. I haven’t been inside SunTrust Park yet, but I did pass it as I was headed home that weekend and I plan to visit in 2020. Nice to see you again, old friend.

13 Years Without One of the Biggest Influences in My Life

13 years, has it really almost been 13 full years?!? Wow. In the words of Willie Nelson, “Gee, ain’t it funny how time slips away?” To answer Willie’s question, yes, it is funny how time slips away. I still think of my late grandaddy, whom I affectionately refer to as Big Ken, still to this day. I find myself wishing he was still here to see Brennen and I grow into men. I find myself running across pictures of him that I haven’t seen before. If he were still here, there’s no doubt in my mind that he would be beaming from ear-to-ear with pride as we are grown now and living on our own but we still live together, so I know that he would be proud to know that through all these years, we’re still just as close as we were the day that pancreatic cancer took him from us when we’re just eight years old. I try not to think about how things were during his last few months here, instead, me being the positive person that I am, I try to remember all of the good things about him and trust me, there were tons of good things about the man that stood 6’4″ weighing above 230 pounds. He was hard-working, when he saw a homeless person or a person in need, he helped them in any way that he could, he always went out of his family had everything that they needed and most of what they wanted, because when he grew up in late 30’s and into the 40’s he and his family weren’t as fortunate as we were. If I heard, ‘Son I don’t care if your the janitor or the CEO, just make sure you are the hardest worker in the building’ once, I heard it a thousand times. I didn’t realize what he meant back then, but now that I’m grown, I know exactly what he meant. He believed in treated people with respect, even if they didn’t treat you with respect. I never knew him to have a bitter bone in his body. He was always patient with us and sometimes I know I got on his nerves, but he’d just smile and “Boy, you ain’t right.” And I have to agree, in fact, even today, I’m ‘not right’ most of the time. Thank you, Big Ken for all of the great memories. Until we meet again, I promise to be the hardest worker in the room, and I’ll try my best to keep dad straight, I don’t know how you and Grandma Sherry did it for all those years, it’s harder than it seemed at eight years old. Take it easy big man, I love you.

A Man and A Cracker Barrel Microphone

I don’t often write pieces about myself, simply I try to keep things focused on sports, with an occasional twist in the middle. But today, I feel like writing about how a microphone that I bought from Cracker Barrel when I was eight-years-old, led to me being able live the dream that I’m living today. Almost my entire life, I’ve known that I wanted to be a broadcaster, but it didn’t begin to take shape until 15. When I was eight years old, my family and I were headed to Spanish Fort, Alabama to visit with my grandparents, as my grandad was in his last few months of life and we stopped by the Evergreen Cracker Barrel where I purchased a plastic microphone as we were leaving. My mom said “You don’t need that, it’s a waste of money.” But to me, it wasn’t a waste of money, so I convinced my mom to let me get it. As we rode down the road, I was talking into it constantly, I kept talking into it when we arrived at my grandparents’ house in Spanish Fort. I used it constantly after that, at that point just to prove to my mom that it wasn’t a ‘waste of money’. I picked up old media guides from various sporting events and began to practice, which was always several hours. Multiple times I was told to be quiet because somebody was watching TV, but I knew if I stopped, I would never reach my dream. So I continued to practice with the Cracker Barrel microphone for years until it broke. Then, I was given my first real microphone several years later and my brother had an electric guitar amp that he didn’t use much, so when he wasn’t using it, I would sneak it into my room and use it for hours. I’m often asked “How do you sound so much different when you’re not behind a microphone,” and “How does your voice get so deep on the microphone?” I’ve been asked this millions of times over the seven years that i’ve been a broadcaster, and I often reply with “One time, I went to Cracker Barrel when I was eight.” I know people are often left wondering what Cracker Barrel and broadcasting have to do with each other but it’s all about that plastic microphone from Cracker Barrel in 2006. If you want to be a broadcaster, go to Cracker Barrel and convince your mom to let you get a plastic microphone, they make dreams come true.

The Time I Raised Hell With Hank Jr and Kid Rock

This past Saturday, I went over to Alpharetta, Georgia with family friends where we met my aunt, who is from Charlotte, North Carolina for a Hank Jr. and Kid Rock concert. I had been looking forward to this concert for weeks, maybe even years before I knew I was going, because my grandmother always told me “If Kid Rock ever comes close, you go see him.” So I heeded her advice and went to see him and Hank Jr in Alpharetta. On the way over, it took what seemed like an eternity. I think that’s because of how long I had looked forward to this night. I didn’t see an Alpharetta sign the whole time until we reached the northern part of Fulton County, Georgia. When we reached the hotel, my aunt met us in the hotel lobby, anxiously waiting to go to the concert. We arrived at the 48 minutes before show time, so I understand why she was in a hurry, because I was too. When we got to the amphitheater, we waited in a line that wrapped around a curb, which meant we would miss Bocephus’ first two songs. But when we passed the metal detectors and entered, I could immediately feel the energy in the place even though Kid Rock wasn’t on stage yet. I knew I was in for a treat. At first, we accidentally sat in the wrong seats. (which didn’t turn out well for the actual seat owner, at all.) I’m not sure he knew who he was talking to. But while we were in the midst of the confrontation, I just sat back in his seat and enjoyed the show, because I knew he wouldn’t do anything, so I wasn’t worried in the least bit. My aunt had gone to buy merchandise so it was just the family friends and myself. I sat back, looked at him and crossed my arms while one of the family friends handled the situation. After we found our seats, which were a lot better than the seats we originally sat in, the energy kept building. When Kid Rock, an avid American, from Romeo, Michigan, a Detroit suburb, took the stage, I screamed my head off. In fact, I screamed every lyric to every song he sang that night. Which resulted in me completely losing my voice, but I was okay with that because I had a blast doing it and I know that my grandma was looking down from heaven with that innocent smile on her face and my grandad was doing the same. On Sunday, we met my cousin for lunch in Atlanta before heading back home where we sat, talked, laughed and enjoyed every minute. But then, on Sunday night, it dawned on me that I had a football to announce the next day and I had no voice. I thought “Well, this should be fun.” But I didn’t worry about it. I knew it was all worth it. If you ever get the chance, go raise hell with Kid Rock, you won’t be disappointed.