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Former Courier sportswriter Kevin Taylor’s book weaves tales of sports and career

Kevin Taylor is a story teller by trade.

With over four decades as a sportswriter, Taylor could keep you entertained for hours about tales of his life and career, which started in Conroe, and eventually landed him in Arkansas where he has resided since 1999.

There’s some great gems in Taylor’s memory bank. Like that one time he was in the same car as future NFL star Steve Young and they stopped off to eat at Burger King on FM 1960. The BYU quarterback at the time chowed down a whopper with ketchup.

There’s also the time where Taylor was invited over to a table in the media lounge at the Astrodome where he broke bread and heard stories from famous Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully and Harry Craft, a Conroe resident who was the original Houston Colt .45s manager.

There was also a time when Taylor’s recorder had a malfunction and he had to kindly ask Astros ace pitcher Nolan Ryan, an intimidating presence at times during his career, to re-do an interview they just had minutes earlier.

‘Stat Daddy’ was published this past spring and features many of Taylor’s favorite moments centered around his life as a sports journalist.

Taylor is a 1980 graduate of Conroe High School and began his sports writing career with the Conroe Courier as a stringer while he was in high school in 1978. He stayed at The Courier until 1991 before working for the Houston Chronicle’s ‘This Week’ weekly newspaper from 1991-94. In 1992, Taylor branched out to Palestine, Texas and worked at the Herald-Press for nearly seven years. In 1999, he moved to Arkansas and was at the Fort Smith Times Record for just over two decades.

“I knew I had all these stories from Conroe, Palestine and then all the stuff that happened in Fort Smith,” Taylor explained. “To me, there’s just a lot of fun stories. It’s incredible how small the world is how these (stories) can tie it together. These people that were at one place and you go somewhere else and there’s somebody else you know who’s there. It’s crazy to be able to tie those together.”

Taylor’s 238-page book, titled after a nickname he was given while working the scorers table and public address for Conroe sporting events, is packed full of plenty of Montgomery County and Houston nostalgia from the 1980s and into the 1990s.

“Just growing up there was such a great place to be,” Taylor said. “In the mid 70s and late 70s, Conroe was just still small enough that it was a town that you could drive around and you could ride your bike around and not worry about (traffic).”

Taylor covered some of the great Conroe teams of that era, most notably the boys basketball team which reached the state championship game in 1985.

Rod Jacques was a big star player of that team and Taylor has fond memories of covering him and the Tigers.

“He was such a great guy,” Taylor said. “All those stories about Rod are pretty awesome. I remember the coaches — Tommy Johnson (who later became the principal at Oak Ridge) — he would tell me these stories that Rod would fall asleep in class because he stayed up at night watching WTBS and the Atlanta Hawks. Rod was such a fun player a gracious guy. He was the star athlete, buy you would have never known it.”

The book is littered with stories of covering high school athletics in that era. It has sections on favorite games, athletes and coaches that Taylor covered in Montgomery County, Palestine and Fort Smith.

“The idea was basically I wrote a bunch of columns over the years and people really enjoyed columns about nostalgia and sports and music,” Taylor said. “I just kind of put that all together and just kind of kept all of that.

“I loved all the schools I covered”

Taylor’s time at the Fort Smith Times Record ended in 2020. Since 2015, Taylor has been employed by the Alama School District as an online recovery instructor, mostly teaching English students. He also is the school district’s sports information director.

He and his wife Mardi have two boys, Logan and Landon, who are both active in sports.

The book features forwards by Brent Zwerneman, an Oak Ridge High School graduate who currently covers Texas A&M athletics for the Houston Chronicle.

“One my favorite things is the cold call interview,” Taylor said. “One day I drove down to Oak Ridge to interview Brent Zwerneman. Years later, he told me I was the reason he wanted to become a sportswriter. I always thought that was really neat.”

Jon Walk, an area journalist who currently covers the state of Texas private and parochial school athletics and has an added passion for cross country and track as an announcer, also provided a forward.

While also working as a radio reporter, Taylor also sprinkles in tales of covering Astros games in the 1980s and his love for the Houston sports scene. Whenever had free time during his busy work weeks, he enjoyed securing press credentials to Houston sporting events as well as Texas A&M.

Back in the 1980s when many of his friends had established themselves, got married and had mortgages to pay of, Taylor was living the life as an apartment dweller who drove all over the Montgomery County map and beyond looking for sports stories to share.

“I would never trade any of that away,” Taylor said. “I had so much fun and was a neat experience. I would wake up in the morning and do some radio. Then I would go to the Courier all day before I would drive over to a school or a couple schools to write stories. It was so much fun and such a blast to do all that stuff. I miss those days from the 80s. It was just such an innocent time. No social media, no cell phones.”

‘Stat Daddy’, published by Newman Springs Publishing, is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Taylor previously authored ‘Tiger Boogie’ in July 2003 about the Conroe Tigers football program.

rtate@hcnonline.com

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