Column: Hess represented the best in Valley sports journalism

Veteran sports reporter Roy Hess, seated right, is shown with his wife Nellie, seated, and children (Erika Amanda, Erik James, and Merry Christina, from left to right) at the RGV Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony June 25, 2016 at the Pharr Events Center. Hess, a 2016 inductee and former sports editor of all three main Rio Grande Valley newspapers, died Thursday. Courtesy: Merry Christina Hess

Very recently, I received a phone call.

The caller wanted to know Roy Hess’ phone number, because there was a question about a Rio Grande Valley high school soccer record and they needed to know the correct one to go with.

Roy had the answer. Of course he did. He always did.

You see, when you’ve been covering the sport since its inception, when you cover the Valley’s regional and state championship seasons, when you’re named the regional sports writer of the year by the Texas Association of Soccer Coaches three times, you are an authority.

And Roy was THE authority on RGV high school soccer.

But it wasn’t just soccer. Across a five-decade career, Roy also handled the Valley boxing beat. He covered football and basketball. Baseball and softball. Volleyball, cross country, track & field, swimming, powerlifting … he did it all.

Along the way, he served as sports editor of each of the Valley top three daily newspapers — The Brownsville Herald, Valley Morning Star and The Monitor in McAllen.

He expanded The Monitor’s coverage area (can you even imagine a Monitor sports department that restricts itself to McAllen schools today?) and gave countless reporters — a bunch of whom have posted tributes on social media since his death — shots at journalism careers.

Even when he wasn’t a sports editor, he remained a veteran resource for young reporters trying to find their footing in the area. He was always willing to lend a helping hand, provide a phone number or offer a word of encouragement.

And that didn’t just apply to reporters. I first stepped into a sports editor role at The Herald, and if we came upon a situation where we needed a source we’d call Roy for ideas. He’d gently help me if the coverage I’d assigned him was a bit off. He regularly offered story ideas. His advice was always appreciated, and right.

Roy was passionate about Valley athletes and telling their stories. He was dedicated to the job, working as a part-time reporter while also working for a time as a licensed vocational nurse at Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen. That had to end up in some really long days, yet I don’t remember him complaining once.

In 2016, that dedication and years of service earned him a well-deserved induction of the Rio Grande Valley Sports Hall of Fame, of which he was a member of the board of directors.

He made a difference for so many, both inside newsrooms and out, and he did it with a smile on his face and a gentle, friendly demeanor that can be hard to find these days.

You know, legend is a term that can be overused and often is debated in sports circles, especially among reporters. More recently, greatest of all time, or G.O.A.T., has followed.

Roy has been referred to by some reporters as the G.O.A.T. of Rio Grande Valley sports journalism, and “Legend” was the headline accompanying his obituary in Saturday’s editions of The Brownsville Herald and Valley Morning Star.

He earned those titles throughout a lifetime of service to the Rio Grande Valley community.

There is no question about it.

Bryan Read is the Sports Editor of The Brownsville Herald and the Valley Morning Star. You can reach him at (956) 430-6214 or via email at bread@brownsvilleherald.com or bread@valleystar.com.