2017 KHQA Sportsperson of the Year: JOSH HOUCHINS
2017 KHQA SPORTSPERSON OF THE YEAR: JOSH HOUCHINS, WGEM Sportscenter Radio Host and All Around Inspiration to all of us who love Local Sports
Rationale: I am going to cross some not often breached Local Television divides for this, but if anyone is worth breaking the rules for here it is the Late Josh Houchins.
I am trying to be mindful here to walk a very important and tight line with this award.
While I am lucky enough to consider Josh a friend and all of us who listened to him in the mornings were blessed to share in his talent, this is not my story to tell.
The good people at WGEM lost a dear family member and their grief and loss this year when Josh passed back on October 15th resonated in a far more devastating way than I think I want to imagine. Moreover, I can't even fathom the pain for Josh's mother and sister. Thankfully, we are blessed in this community to have someone of the talents of Ben Marth to tell the story that needed to be told in the way only he could. His moving television tribute to Josh and his incredible eulogy is perfection. So I will refer you with my heartfelt blessing to his incredible work if you have not yet partaken of it to see why so many of us who care about the fabric and culture of our sporting community were so moved to tears by Josh's passing all too young. Again, I am not in the business of turning away business for my employer but some things are too important and too good to let the silliness of company party lines and business politics get in the way. So if you need rationale for our decision to award Mister Houchins this plaudit, consider Ben's work the immutable evidence that lays out the iron clad case for his being honored here.
Again, I am not here to co-opt anyone's story.
By the same token, honoring anyone other than Josh in this spot, in this year; would have felt like like an appalling abdication of the truth.
In light of that and in the absence here of me turning out our typical profile of our winner, I am just going to offer up a simple thank you in its place. I wish it wasn't merely offered to Josh's memories (though I take incredible daily solace in the fact that I told Josh on multiple occasions how great I thought he was at his job) but this life is a weird, uncertain, and sometimes heartbreaking ride. While he was here, Josh made it better for all of us. Not just with his tireless and enthusiastic (to the point of goofiness at times, which I now miss dearly) promotion of young athletes in our midst, but with the incredible manner in which he lived through the adversities and challenges in his own life to inspire us with the simple act of getting in a car and driving to a job every day, where many in his physical condition might have just been content to feel sorry for themselves and quit on life. Whatever the opposite of "quitting on life in the face of adversity" is, Josh Houchins was the embodiment of the beautiful alternative of same. On a daily, inspired and too-often taken in stride or for granted context by those of us who just saw him as Hooch being Hooch. What he was, in fact, was a supernova of all the best qualities in this life of perseverance and unfailign good humor and smiling positive energy in the face of it all. And he was smart and brilliant and gifted beyond belief in leading in the ridiculously difficult art of leading a live radio show to boot.
The Tri-States has not nor will ever again see another one quite like him.
You are and will be missed every day my friend. More than you can possible know. And especially from 7 to 9 am every weekday morn.
BRETT TAYLOR, Western Illinois All-American Linebacker
2008-DAVE SWISEGOOD, Southeastern Baseball Coach
2009-JESSICA KELLER, Quincy University Basketball Star
2010-JIM UNRUH, Illini West Football Coach
2011-JACOB TUCKER, Illinois College Basketball Player, You-Tube Sensation, and NCAA Slam Dunk Contest Champion
2012-LUKE GUTHRIE, PGA Tour Golfer/Quincy High Alum
2013-MIKAELA FOECKE, Holy Trinity Volleyball Star
2014-MARYANN ST CLAIR, Hannibal Coach/Teacher/Mother/Wife and Inspiration who lost brave fight with Cancer
2015-TAMMY AMES, Keokuk Cancer Survivor, Pink Night Softball Inspiration, and Chiefs Sports Mom
2016-TERI PAUL, Legendary West Prairie Volleyball Coach