Usually they’re pretty pro forma: gathering in the gym, tons of friends, a few rivals and peers from other schools in attendance, the requisite boilerplate speeches and then a mad dash to the giant cake, it having been tantalizingly eyed by most for many prior minutes.
They’re all cool, because many are called but so few are chosen: to advance to the next level in athletics does not come to the vast majority of kids. But signings, they’re generally similar.
However, once in awhile, the basic signing ceremony will surprise you, rising above the trusted pattern to become a moment of true pathos and import.
Thus it was with great feeling and meaning that Amber Reyes inked a pact to play softball at Texas A&M-Kingsville Friday afternoon at EHS. After the amazing Snowstorm ’17 had put a charge into the city, this ceremony was just as good, with heartfelt statements and a superior athlete savoring the opportunity to give thanks.
Actually, the athletically marvelous Reyes was able to really show how she felt about her coaches and particularly her parents and siblings. She labored to keep her emotions in check, working way harder than she had done in fashioning a miniscule 0.64 ERA and a massive .518 batting average as a junior in 2016. And thankfully, she could not, sighing back tears and struggling with composure as her turn at the mike arrived.
It’s not that Reyes is inarticulate; far from it, as she has always been affable and cool, imperturbable and exceedingly bright. It’s just that after her father and mother gave truly moving speeches about sacrifice, dedication, and love, what else was a girl to do?
Perhaps the key moment in the pre-Amber portion came when her mother thanked Reyes’ two sisters for continually sacrificing their vacation plans for Disney, in grudging favor of attending en masse the annual national travel softball tournament that Reyes was always such a big part of with Coach Kevin Kanipe’s Heat juggernaut.
That’s when it hit the dominant, strong-armed EHS star, and the authentic surge of anxiety mixed with happiness was as real as the white snows that had blanketed the area hours before.
For she knew that behind every successful high school athlete is a selfless support team of loved ones who recognize the potential therein and perform accordingly. Without her family, Reyes might not have reached this pinnacle; certainly the journey would not have been as rich on several levels.
So as she worked her way through the remarks, the crowd was thrilled at the bona fide display of guts and patience. Reyes will help lead the Lady Bobcats to a fine season, of that there is no doubt. And that she had given the assembled group Friday an object lesson in humility and gratitude – along with an illustration of what happens when a great player puts in the time and effort to improve and become truly exceptional – was also obvious.
Most ceremonies are ceremonial. But few are sublime, perfect in their tenderness and depth. This was one of the special occasions.