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Open Mike

There is nothing quite like "The Moment"

Last month marked my eighth year in this crazy industry called journalism.

Why do I stay involved with it? It couldn't be because of the people calling up with complaints or others being mad at you for something you wrote. No, that can't be it.

I was thinking about this very subject the other day when I was watching Sunnnyside High School boys soccer goalie Johnny Hernandez stop the third shot of a shootout against Hanford to help the Grizzlies move on to the 3A State tournament. I stay in this business for "The Moment." That immortal part of time where all the stars are in alignment and everything is right in the universe. I have seen plenty of moments over the years in this industry, even in small-town America. Moments are parts of events that happen which you won't forget. Moments are those glimpses at greatness.

So, here is my top eight moments, great events that stick out in my mind over the last eight years.

8. At another newspaper I worked for an incident occurred in the community involving an educator who filed a complaint about another staff member. The administration made this poor person's life horrible. They had this teacher cleaning closets and she was subjected to the abuse of other employees. The sad part was the administration and the school board did nothing to stop it. This is where I learned about the ugly side that comes out in some people who have power.

7. Anyone who has ever seen Sunnyside High School cross country runner Isley Gonzalez compete knows they have witnessed someone special. But the most special moment that I have ever had the privilege of witnessing came during Gonzalez's junior year at the 3A State cross country meet. In one of the most grittiest performances I have seen, Gonzalez, who was seemingly a dead fish in the water, came back from 12th in the field with a half-mile left in the race to finish third. In my eyes, Gonzalez proved she belonged that day.

6. The day I had the chance to talk with Gov. Gary Locke for 10 minutes. The governor had stopped by the Del Monte plant in Toppenish for a press conference and I had the chance to talk to him directly. It was a good moment for me. It is not every day one can talk to the governor.

5. A packed house of firemen crammed the Sunnyside City Council chambers united in hopes of stopping the city from possibly privatizing the ambulance service. That night provided me with a powerful insight that sometimes what is best for a community doesn't deal with dollars and cents, but rather the human aspect, which is something often forgotten.

4. One of the most complete high school football games I have ever seen in eight years was played Halloween night 2003. It was the night the Sunnyside High School football team destroyed Grandview in what was a breathtaking display of teamwork by the Grizzlies. If Sunnyside could have played that way every game, Grizzly head coach Mark Marro and his team would have been undefeated. Sunnyside captured a playoff spot that night, but what the very cold October evening showed was that Grizzly football has the ability to be a powerhouse once again.

3. The 2001-02 Sunnyside Christian High School boys basketball team that won the schools' second-ever State 'B' title. I had the privilege of watching the likes of Kenton Barry, Daryl Haak, Joel Hughes, Lance Den Boer, Dustin Merryman and my friend Coach Dean Wagenaar in the years previous to them winning the State title and you could tell that season was going to be special. That group's run to the State title that year was destiny. It was meant to be, it was the culmination of hard work and dedication seldom seen by a group of young men. Watching the Knights at State was a special event for me. I truly learned what the meaning of a team was that year with those young men.

2. Covering the speech by President George W. Bush at Ice Harbor Dam. I am not a Republican by any means, but President Bush provided me with a unique moment that not many people in this neck of the woods gets the opportunity to take part in. Everything about the president's arrival can fall under "The Moment" heading.

1. My top special moment of the past eight years actually came this past year, Jan. 30. The night will be remembered for a long time by fans of the Mabton High School boys basketball team. It was the night Coach Brock Ledgerwood and his Vikings stepped out on their home floor and beat the unbeatable Riverside Christian Crusaders, the then top 'B' basketball team in the state. What was notable about the game was that Riverside kicked the tar out of Mabton the first time the two teams played. But sitting in the stands that night I knew I was witnessing something special, something unforgettable. It was one of those nights where the underdog stood tall. On the side of being dramatic, it was truly an evening that showed on any given night, under any given circumstances, any given thing can happen.

. Mike Kantman can be contacted at (509) 837-4500, or email him at mkantman@eaglenewspapers.com

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