STEPHENVILLE (June 10, 2018)– Zane Smith, a recent Stephenville High School graduate and baseball player, was awarded the 33rd annual Everett award on May 24.
Smith has been playing baseball ever since he could barely walk. He said he loves baseball because it’s unpredictable.
“[Baseball] will humble just as quick as it made you think you were really good,” Smith said. “It’s really indescribable unless you play the sport. The nature of it. The camaraderie. Baseball under the lights. I’m getting chills talking about it right now. I also love it because it teaches perseverance. It’s a game of ups and downs and failing 70 percent of the time. I’ll always be around the game in some way. It’s just something you can’t get away from.”
The Everett award was created in honor of Eric Everett who passed away in a car accident in 1985.
LeAnn Durfey, Everett’s sister, said that Everett was well-liked throughout high school.
“[Eric] was just a great guy,” Durfey said. “He was everybody’s friend. Nothing was a popularity contest with him. He got along with everybody and he was just a great kid and loved baseball.”
The coaching staff selects the player to be presented with the Everett award each year.
“The criteria (for the award) is the player who shows the biggest heart for the game, who’s well-liked and just an all-around great player, not just on the field, but in school as well,” Durfey said. “Really, it’s the kid that just shows the most heart for the game, whether he’s on the field or whether he’s in the dugout, he’s cheering them on and doing his best.”
Durfey is blessed that this award is still being given away 33 years later.
“The kids that have won (the award) in the past 10 years are the kids of the players who played with Eric. There’s a family dynamic with this award when it comes to the baseball program,” Durfey said. “We (my mom, me and my sister) haven’t had an actual player on that field in years, but we are still at tons of the games and we are huge supporters because we’re just blessed that they still allow this award to be given away.”
In February, Everett’s number retired, and almost 30 men who played baseball with him came from all over Texas and out-of-state to honor him.
“Eric’s number was retired this year and there was a group of men who worked really hard to get that number retired,” Durfey said. “Even after 30 years, there are grown men and women who he grew up with who still want him to be a part of Stephenville High School, and to me, that says a lot about his character and how great of a kid he was.”
Smith is honored to have received the Everett award.
“To be awarded the Eric Everett award is truly humbling and special,” Smith said. “It was a real honor being the recipient of the award given the way his teammates from high school talked about him. We retired his number this year after a scrimmage and a few of his teammates said a few words about him. They talked about how he loved the game and how he was respected by his teammates. He was always there for the team whenever they needed anything. The way they talked about him made me want to meet him.”
Smith plans to attend Ranger College for one year to complete his basics and, following that, he plans to transfer to a university.
“To receive the award was very humbling,” Smith said. “It really puts life into perspective. Every day is a gift. Any day could be your last day, so be grateful for every day you wake up breathing. Don’t take anything for granted.”