I didn’t want to write this column. As a matter of fact, I flat-out struggled with it. But for someone who enjoys writing about some of the great, memorable and downright motivational moments in sports in this community, sometimes tragedy must enter my reality. When we lose a Warrior, one of our own, it’s my duty.
Plenty has already been written about the life of young Peyton Stowers, who left us far too soon just days after he graduated from Tehachapi High School. Darla Baker’s coverage of his services in these very pages do far more justice than I ever could. Truth be told, I didn’t know Peyton personally, other than calling his name on Friday nights from the announcer booth at Coy Burnett Stadium or writing about a few key tackles he may have had in the weekly game reports. But by all accounts, this kid was what the people of Tehachapi, including the teachers, coaches and administrators at Tehachapi High, want to produce each year: fine citizens for our community and the rest of the world.
Tragedy bears no preference, it has no purpose, no meaning and certainly no pattern. I can’t pretend to be an expert in any sort of medical field, so I won’t start now. As an announcer I learned very early, especially in radio, to never speculate. As a father of two young boys I can’t imagine the heartache, the pain and the questions from the Stowers family. I hope they will one day find peace; I will certainly keep praying that they will.
Tragedy often sparks awareness. I believe I speak for most in hoping that this one opens the channels of communication for other teenagers. I know for a fact there are teachers, coaches, parents and even community members always willing to talk. The name ‘Warriors’ simply isn’t just a school mascot or a team name on a jersey; it has been and always will be a way of life.
Us Tehachapi Warriors were trained from the beginning to be like our ancestral warriors: to work in a cohesive community with other members of our tribe. When our time came to move on and search for our own purpose, we knew we always had that tribe, and that tribe always had our back. Once you graduate through you join the exclusive fraternity of those who traveled the same journey, no matter the age gap. That’s what it means to be a Tehachapi Warrior.
I have mentioned this before, but this latest tragedy warrants a reminder, as Warriors: You’ll never walk alone. That means we’re all here, for one another, for our tribe, past, present and future. I’m here specifically, and as mentioned before I’m no expert, but i'm willing to talk. My contact information is below, I never hide from helping somebody to the best of my ability.
While I aspire to write about the great, memorable and inspirational within this community, the tragic still finds a place. However, I believe the story of Peyton Stowers will transcend tragedy and potentially motivate others to reach out to their fellow Warriors, to their tribe, to this fraternal support structure we are all a part of in their times of need. May it forever serve as a reminder: You’ll never walk alone.
Corey Costelloe has covered NCAA, professional and local sports for more than 20 years as a reporter and broadcaster. A THS graduate, he now resides in Tehachapi. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The opinions expressed are his own.