Uvalde Leader-News sports editor James Volz found himself on the other side of reporting Monday night when the Uvalde High School Athletic Booster Club lauded the 41-year veteran journalist for unwavering support of local athletes.
In addition to filling more than an estimated 12,000 newspaper pages with news and photos of high school athletes since he went to work for the Leader-News in 1978, Volz has also announced game plays and, before that, operated the time clock during numerous sub-varsity and varsity sports contests.
Further, he has long been the voice of the Friday night football broadcast aired on KVOU.
For these efforts, Volz was surprised during the booster club’s annual appreciation banquet with the 2019 Harvey Kinchlow – Here Come The Coyotes Award, which is given annually to a supporter who embodies Kinchlow’s spirit.
“Harvey Kinchlow was always on hand to encourage Uvalde athletes through his humor, good cheer and positive words,” athletic booster club secretary Niki Henderson said of the award namesake who died in the 1980s.
Henderson went on to say Kinchlow was always there to remind student athletes to give thanks after victory and provide perspective after a loss.
“I know many of you in this room graduated from Uvalde High School and at one time may have had the honor of wearing a Coyote or Lobo uniform. If that’s the case, chances are you know the face and the voice of this year’s recipient,” Henderson said of Volz.
“He’s been in Uvalde since the late 1970s and has been attending sporting events for more than 40 years. Sometimes as a fan, other times as an announcer in the press box, often as photographer, and sometimes as an addition on the football sidelines who I’m told has been known to offer his very frank and candid opinion to officials after a questionable call.
“He has spent many Friday nights in the football press box, covering the game live on the air and then writing his article on Saturday morning in time to make the Sunday paper,” Henderson continued.
Through his position at the newspaper, Volz has worked with two publishers, several managing editors, 11 head football coaches, and numerous others, many of whom still breeze into the office with “Lightning” Volz’s desk their first stop for conversations on politics, football and religion.
When the University of Texas at Austin graduate came to the Uvalde Leader-News via the Zavala County Sentinel in his hometown of Crystal City, he was the youngest person on the newspaper staff. Now, although he can’t claim the title of oldest, he is the most tenured.
Volz is the first person in the office each day, and on press days – when newspaper staff members are at their busiest and, in some cases, their crankiest – he sends early-morning prayers via text and email to interject perspective into a hectic day.
His co-workers aren’t the only people to receive the greetings, which include favorite or pertinent Bible readings and prayers for friends and young athletes. The messages reach a large swath of the community.
Volz also brings cheer in the way of sweet treats. On Thursday mornings, he sets out various cookies on his co-workers’ desks for an after-press-day indulgence.
He arrives around 6 a.m., skips the usual lunch hour, and leaves around 3 p.m. to grab food and relax before heading out to cover various Uvalde sports.
Between serving as an announcer for junior high football, sub-varsity football, sub-varsity and varsity basketball, sub-varsity and varsity softball, and the occasional baseball game, as well as devoting newspaper space to as many UHS sporting contests he can attend or obtain stats for, Volz stays busy year-round, often returning to the office at night to type his notes and work on stories.
He still manages to fit in physical workouts, spending time at the Uvalde Honey Bowl, or running down East Main Street as traffic roars at his side.
Volz diligently ensures every athlete sees his or her name in print as he chronicles every person who contributed to a contest’s outcome. Even when the Coyotes and Lobos lose specific contests or the majority of a season, Volz emphasizes positive contributions.
The first sports section he produced for the Leader-News appeared in the Sunday, June 1, 1978, edition. It contained news about Uvalde Little League, summer golf, youth rodeo, tennis, former Texas A&I head football coach Gil Steinke’s speaking engagement in Leakey, various tournaments and more.
“There have been many worthy recipients of the Harvey Kinchlow award, but James has to rank among the top,” said newspaper publisher Craig Garnett. “Some would assert that it is James’ job as sports editor to report on athletic events, but he has gone way beyond what was required as sports editor. He has lived, breathed and promoted Uvalde athletics for his entire career.”
“You know you’re old when you look out in the crowd and you see parents and grandparents and you remember seeing them play as Coyotes and Lobos,” Volz said upon accepting the plaque.
Gesturing to his side, where current UHS athletic director R.T. Gonzales and Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Superintendent Hal Harrell were standing, he said he remembered their days representing the Coyotes.
“This means a lot. I really appreciate it. All I can say is, I knew Harvey Kinchlow, and he was a great guy, and it’s a great honor to win this award tonight.”
Volz is married to Trisha Volz, who retired from the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District in 2017 after a 39-year career, and they have three children: Julie, who lives in Corpus Christi with her husband; Jason, who also lives in Corpus Christi with his wife and two sons; and Jeffrey, who lives in San Antonio with his wife and two daughters.
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