Sep 07, 2021
IN FOCUS: Deer Park's high-powered offense strikes again
Photos By Andy Tolbert
WHEN ONE SEES THE STATURE AND PROWESS ON THE FIELD THAT JACOB ROMERO DISPLAYS, IT COULD BE ASSUMED THAT HE’S BEEN PLAYING BALL HIS WHOLE LIFE.
The contrary happens to be the case for the Hastings’ junior outfielder.
“I actually started playing pretty late, when I was 14,” he said. “I fell in love with the game when the Astros won the World Series back in 2017. My favorite player to watch was definitely George Springer, which is part of the reason why I became an outfielder.”
“But, I try to model my game after Mookie Betts because he’s one of the top players in the MLB, despite not being one of the bigger players. He still competes with the big guys, which is really impressive and he serves as a good model for me.”
Romero certainly caught on quickly, considering his freshman year performance earned him a first-team, all-district nod.
He was on the trajectory for another all-district performance last year, however, he would suffer a season-ending injury. A concussion and cracked skull after colliding with his teammate's knee sidelined him for the remainder of his sophomore campaign.
“It was pretty rough,” said Romero. “After everything happened, I wasn’t able to be out there with the guys, doing what I wanted to do. But, as soon as I healed up, I went right back to it. I’ve been grinding to recover to the form I had before the injury.”
Now that he has made the steady recovery – at the behest of his coaches – Romero has a one-track mind.
“I’m hoping to have one heck of a season... even better than my freshman year,” he laughed. “I’ve been working my butt off all Summer, Fall and Winter to get back. The workouts, hitting and throwing practice, and consistent recuperation have all led me to this. I’m going to make sure it was worth it.”
He’ll have his work cut out for him, as he and his Bears are tasked with competing in a crowded District 23-6A. Night in and night out, Hastings will face likes of perennial State contenders such as the 2023 Finalist Pearland, along with Alvin and Strake Jesuit.
But, given his steadfast determination and positive disposition, Romero is sure to put on a show as he returns to lead Hastings in their Spring campaign.
“As an athlete, I’m proud to represent Alief – especially as a baseball player,” he said. “Not too many people play here, let alone exceed high expectations. So, every time I step on that field, I’m going to make sure I play with pride and passion. I’ll be going 100-percent, no matter who we play or where we compete.”
With a mindset like that, first-team, all-district should be the minimum for Romero in 2024.
Katy Taylor girls hoops experienced a surge of success in 2024, escalating the ranks within the loaded District 19-6A, and ultimately taking the No. 3 (28-7; 12-4 in district) spot prior to their first playoff berth since the 2018-19 season.
While head coach Blair Ary had a slew of weapons to utilize on the court, her center-piece was undoubtedly senior Timya Grice.
The 6-foot-5 center made her presence especially felt this Winter when she posted 34 points and a school-record 24 rebounds in a pivotal 58-43 victory over district counterpart Seven Lakes.
Considering the connection she shows with her teammates, it may come as a shock that Grice has only been with the team since January of 2023, after moving from Mauldin, South Carolina.
While it may be a daunting task for some to adjust to a new environment – and not just the occasionally brutal Houston weather – that hasn’t been the case for Grice.
Photo provided by Timya Grice (Twitter: @timyagrice22)
“I love Taylor,” she said. “The coaching staff is really great here, and they really connect with everyone. At Taylor, we’re all about unity, which really speaks to me. In the Bible, it says ‘where there is true unity, God commands a blessing,’ so that’s what we’re all about, and that’s what’s important to us.”
“Sure, we have our bad days, but we always have each other’s backs. Even now that we’re in the offseason, we’re all still very close.”
That same aspect of unity will undoubtedly come into play when Grice advances her game to the collegiate level, where she’ll play for Arizona State University.
Despite holding offers from other premier programs, such as Kansas State, something about ASU clicked with her.
“It was really about feeling,” said Grice. “Some people would ask me why I didn’t choose Kansas (State), but I honestly felt like I was treated better by the Arizona State staff, and that they liked me more. The head coach (Natasha Adair) and I got really close.”
“Even the weather played a factor. Everyone says the heat in Texas is awful, but I didn’t actually mind the Arizona heat. So, a lot of aspects came into play – if I would be safe over there, do they like me, etc. Overall, I’m confident in my decision.”
Photo provided by Timya Grice (Twitter: @timyagrice22)
Given the considerable maturity she embodies, one has to wonder what makes Grice tick, both on and off the court?
“For me, it’s more about being mentally in the game rather than physically,” she said. “You can do anything once you put your mind to it. So, I make sure that I pray before games and do my best to ensure that my mind is right. Of course, that transfers over to my regular life and aspirations, as well.”
The future Sun Devil certainly has a bright future ahead. With her mind-set, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Grice ends up in the pros one day.
There is so much fun to be had at a VYPE Media Days!
From team and individual pictures, social media shout-outs and video interviews, it is all there for the student-athletes to feel like a superstar. VYPE had its Willis ISD 2024 Spring Media Day recently.
Check out the Willis Spring behind-the-scenes hype video below!
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