AUBURN - Happiness of it being Memorial Day weekend has shifted to sadness after the sportscasting world lost Auburn Tigers play by play voice Rod Bramblett and his wife Saturday evening in an auto accident.
Both passed away from their injuries after being struck from behind by a 16-year old driver on Shug Jordan Parkway.
Bramblett had returned home after the Tigers were eliminated in the SEC baseball tournament in Hoover in a heartbreaking sequence from a wild pitch that allowed LSU to score two runs.
Those in the sportcasting profession and those who knew Rod Bramblett have heavy hearts for the Sunday before Memorial Day.
Bramblett was an icon on the microphone for the Tigers for 25 years from the baseball diamond and taking over the lead role of football and basketball in 2003 after the tragic death of Jim Fyffe.
Bramblett's impact was a fixture on WKUL-FM (92.1). The local station has had Auburn sports on the airwaves since the late 1980s. Bramblett established his own identity in following Fyffe, who had been the voice for Auburn sports from 1981 til his death in May 2003.
Bramblett and his colleague, Andy Burcham, just celebrated 25 years of being partners in the booth for Auburn baseball.
Bramblett had a good appeal to the WKUL-FM people. I had a chance to speak with him in an interview the day before Auburn played Virgina in this year's NCAA basketball Final Four. The ending of that game will always be remembered on how Rod felt when victory in some ways, got stolen.
I remember a few years ago of how Rod was so elated of being invited to a high school football media days the station hosted as the guest speaker.
Rod was like many who have been in this profession. Starting at the bottom and working your way to the top.
For being an Auburn grad, his passion for Tiger athletics soared very high. Rod was blessed to be a part of some outstanding times in Auburn history, through the three sports he enjoyed for those who listened.
Nothing short of a class act, Rod is an icon for people of telling the story his way. Broadcasters become a part of the program, especially those for who endured a long time as Rod did of 25 years on the Auburn Sports Network.
My heart is heavy for knowing him through the profession that I enjoy of a close association.
Just getting back last weekend from Montgomery in covering Good Hope softball in the state tournament concluded a fine season for me behind the mic for 92.1 FM through four different sports going into postseason play.
Other broadcasters that knew Rod very close are having to embrace the news that he is gone. He will never be forgotten.
Sportscasting is a fun job. It does take a lot of time, effort and determination to reach great levels.
Rod Bramblett paid his dues and was rewarded of a great association on the plains, hitting the airwaves for three different sports between September to May.
It will be trying times for Auburn University, the Auburn Sports Network as they now have to come up with a decision on who will lead the group in the play by play role.
Between now and August 31, plenty of tears from Tiger fans will be flowing. Auburn will kick off the new football season in Arlington, Texas against the Oregon Ducks. Emotions will be so uplifting when the new voice takes over and says, "Welcome to Auburn football."
Bramblett is one of so many great voices on the radio through the teams of the Southeastern Conference.
Auburn fans will say, their man is good as yours. Not many can disagree with that statement.
Rest in peace, Rod and Paula Bramblett, War Eagle!
Photo of Rod Bramblett, with Sonny Smith, during the NCAA basketball tournament in March, courtesy of montgomeryadvertiser.com
MONTGOMERY - Laying it on the line is a very good way to describe the Cullman Bearcats in baseball and the Good Hope Lady Raiders in softball.
Representing the area in the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) state tournament, the two teams provided what it takes to win when many didn't think it was possible.
Cullman defied many odds after having to play 40 of its 43 baseball games off campus. Issues in installing a new field turf on Bill Shelton Field put the project well behind schedule. Cullman got to enjoy the moment of the new surface in three games of the second round 6A playoffs against Pell City.
But this team is a very good team and they showed it. For one, several players had to deal with the bitter taste of losing a semifinal series at home to Hazel Green in 2018, ending their consecutive run of playing in the main event for their respective class of the AHSAA.
That was enough motivation that enabled the Bearcats to take the grueling five week postseason run and lock up the state championship for the first time in four years in a dramatic sweep of Chelsea at Riverwalk Stadium 1-0 and 9-4.
Good Hope softball had never been in this position before. Posting a combined two year total of 18 wins between 2017 and 2018 vs. 35 losses, changes were needed if the program was going to get out of a rut.
It began when principal John Hood cleaned out the coaching staff and hired Tim Tucker to lead the program.
Tucker knew of the winning ways when he played baseball at Springville High School and later for Randy Putman at Wallace State Community College.
Tucker had been a part of an up and coming item, travel team softball. Coaching some of the Lady Raiders during past summers enabled him to bring a new attitude to the Good Hope campus and winning returned that created a lot of attention for those who follow the sport.
Thirty-three victories in 44 games, reaching the Elite Eight in 4A play for the first time, the Lady Raiders embraced the shining moment of playing at legendary Lagoon Park on the weekend of May 17 and left some lasting memories.
Shutting out No. 5 ranked American Christian Academy 5-0 on the night of the 17th allowed the Lady Raiders to return to the diamond the next day and deal with White Plains for the second time in eight days.
Unfortunately, a late inning surge by White Plains kept the Lady Raiders from a berth to the Final Four.
But as the team walked off Field 5 of Lagoon Park, they received a standing ovation from those supporting them for this weekend tour into the Capitol City.
Having a pair of teams from our area displaying the hard work it takes when the postseason schedule comes into full circle, shows the effort of spring sports on the rise. Montgomery is the destination for baseball and softball and we can say in 2019, it was well represented.
Cullman baseball has a fifth state championship. Good Hope softball rewrote the record books. Both endured adversity and have soared so high above it.
Bearcat players Breenan Norton, Cooper Beck, Peyton Colvard, Dylon Wallace, Ben Hollis, among others, can erase the pain of the 2018 semifinals. They were key people coming back for 2019 that showed many of how good they could be when it was time to step up the effort.
For Good Hope softball seniors Bailey Swann, Skylar Tucker, Kailee Shikle, Morgan Goodwin and Gracie Ray, winning felt so good from the start, through the middle and on to the end of the season.
The team knew the opposite side of winning so much, it did create doubt. But putting together success that started on a cold first weekend in March in Cullman at the Wallace State invitational, coming back from Gulf Shores in late March with success and keeping the ship afloat in April from the Area 12 Tournament, through the West Regional, the Lady Raiders had been awarded for their results.
An Elite Eight trip and to finish in the Top 5 through state tournament play. The Lady Raiders endured the moment of going from worst to first.
The calendar year of AHSAA competition is now officially in the books for 2018-19. It was a fine run for yours truly with plenty of positive such as Good Hope football getting to the quarterfinals for the first time in 4A, Addison volleyball taking home another state championship and it being over another county rival.
Cold Springs girls cross country grabbing the state title, the Lady Eagles being superior on the hardwood in their first 2A title in 10 years.
St. Bernard track with a pair of runner-up finishes in Class 1A at Cullman High School a couple of weeks ago.
Now the success of Cullman baseball and Good Hope softball, winning is part of the process for participating in sports. Victories are what players and coaches are judged by.
For these two programs, high grades are achieved. We congratulate you on displaying of what it takes to win.