Everybody's friend: Doc Grant retiring after 30 year career of caring
Wednesday, April 23, 2014 9:03 AM
Say the word “Doc” anywhere else and you might picture a man in a white coat with a stethoscope draped over his shoulder.
Say the word “Doc” in Brownfield, Texas and I’d bet we all picture the same guy.
Stalking the sidelines in red and black, a baseball cap and hip pouch with a towel over his shoulder.
Or in a gym chair at the end of the bench, leaning back, legs crossed with a book in his lap.
Or in his seat at the field house rolling endless yards of ace bandages.
Or standing over a sink mixing his millionth gallon of yellow Gatorade in orange coolers.
Or behind the wheel of a vehicle following a Cub bus over hundreds of thousands of miles of West Texas roads on his way to one sporting event or another.
For more than 30 years, wherever the Cubs or Lady Cubs have gone, Doc Grant has been there.
“Ice it down. Whirlpool in the morning.”
Literally thousands of Cub and Lady Cub athletes have heard those words through three decades of bumps and bruises, sprains and strains, all tended to by Doc.
The acceptance of his retirement Monday night by the school board is a bittersweet moment for a lot of Cub fans and alumni.
We all wish him well, but we all wish he’d stay.
You’d be hard pressed to find an athlete who has passed through Brownfield High School in the last thirty years who doesn’t have fond memories of Doc.
He’s been the district’s only athletic trainer for 31 years and has been recognized as the Texas High School Coaches Association Athletic Trainer of the Year.
But even an honor of that magnitude pales in comparison to the admiration he has earned through the years by the kids who have suited up for the Cubs.
I have been traipsing the sidelines, camera in hand, alongside Doc since I was eight years old.
His greeting that first Friday night 27 years ago was the same as it is every time we meet today, face to face or over the phone.
“Hello, young man.”
It was then and still is a show of respect for someone who really didn’t do much to deserve it.
But that’s Doc. He holds people in high regard and treats them with dignity without judgement.
It has made a lasting impression on me and many, many others through his career.
I’m sure he’ll be the recipient of countless hand shakes and hugs and pats on the back in the coming weeks as another school year and accompanying athletic seasons draw to a close.
He’ll shun the spotlight and insist, as he has to me numerous times, that his life has been blessed.
In truth, he is as grateful to each and every one of the athletes he has helped over the decades as they are to him.
Doc knew in the seventh grade that he wanted to be an athletic trainer and every Cub and Lady Cub to limp into his office since 1983 has allowed him to fulfil that dream.
To his credit, he doesn’t take that lightly.
He has always harbored a love of athletics, but confesses to not being an athlete. Being a trainer allowed him to be involved with athletics anyway.
He has told me he made a career of being the last kid picked on every team he ever tried to join.
Brownfield was Doc’s first -- and only -- trainer job after graduating from college and we almost didn’t get him.
He interviewed with 16 different schools in his job search and came to Brownfield in a particularly nasty February sand storm in 1983.
He couldn’t wait to leave and didn’t accept the job initially, but school officials tweaked the offer and he later accepted over the phone.
Through the years, he has grown to love West Texas. Even the sandstorms that wreak havoc on a game of disc golf.
Doc’s favorite part of his job, he has told me, is watching young kids grow as they work their way through BHS, then become adults and return with their own kids.
He has been a part of generations of lives and he genuinely appreciates each and every one of them.
Doc’s contributions to Brownfield really can’t be measured. There is no greater supporter of the Cubs and Lady Cubs out there.
He is one of Brownfield’s best ambassadors and I hope he’ll continue that role even as he enjoys his retirement.
I have no doubt that he will.
I realize this reads like a eulogy, but it isn’t.
Doc is healthy and active and wants more time to travel and after 31 years on the job, he’ll finally get to see where he’s going instead of staring at the back of a bus.
Thinking about not having him on the sidelines hurts a little.
But I’ll take Doc’s advice for when something hurts a little.
“Rub some dirt on it and get back out there.”
It’s good advice.