Pardon me if I get a little nostalgic this week. I was the class that had the chance to enjoy their 20-year Tehachapi High School reunion this past Mountain Festival Weekend. It was a nice gathering of some familiar faces, and a time warp of sorts back to 1998.
There was one face that stopped me dead in my tracks. My 17-year old likeness.
My friend Julie Larrivee (Zimmerman) back then, was the school spirit queen. Being so, she managed to video record most of our senior year. Prior to cell phone video, this was how we did it “back in the day.” She had tapes to play at our reunion, tapes of old pep rallies on Friday afternoons and even one from the last day of school in 1998.
I was featured in a few shots, and even spoke to the camera more than once. It was like looking back in time 20 years later at a face I didn’t recognize but knew everything about. We shared that time, those memories, those moments. Pictures are one thing, but when you see that person you once were in living color with movement and character, it takes you to another level. It got me thinking, I hope I made him proud.
I believe that if you asked that kid 20 years ago to map out his life, he probably would have drawn it up close to how it unfolded. That kid had a plan, he made sacrifices even back then to ensure that 20 years later he would be proud of the work he accomplished. He wanted to graduate college, to travel, to work in sports, to make a name for himself, I believe he was successful in all of the above.
Looking back, that kid didn’t really know anything, but that is the beautiful part. He had the world at his fingertips, and I’m proud to say he didn’t squander it. He had opportunities presented to him and he took full advantage. He was young but not naïve, he was ready to blaze his trail.
That kid didn’t do it alone, he had a lot of help along the way. Family, friends and this town that helped him mature, grow and learn. Those very factors would be the reason he decided to return many years later, to end a successful career in one field to give back to the place that made him who he is today. To be supportive of the community and return the favor to others that are following the same path he was as a high school senior.
I couldn’t help but feel proud of that kid, and I assume that 17-year old kid would reciprocate that feeling as well. Maybe we knew each other’s dreams enough that we granted one another’s wishes.
The sports helped guide that journey. Teammates grow older, we get fatter and a little slower, but in our minds we’re still those teenage kids with more talent than brains. We’re still Warriors, we’ll never lose that distinction, that’s the bond that makes Tehachapi great.
Thanks to the class of 1998 for all the memories, for the support as we won football games, wore the THS colors proudly and as we now prove that school spirit lives on as community spirit since many of us have moved back home.
I have a message for that 17-year old kid too, well done young man, your journey has unfolding exactly as it should be.
It’s good to be home.
Corey Costelloe has covered the NCAA, professional and local sports for more than 20 years as a reporter and broadcaster. A THS graduate, he now resides and works in Tehachapi. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The opinions expressed are his own.