"First I want to give thanks to God for allowing me to be here tonight and for giving me strength and courage to do what I do," Ronnie Zamora said at the Rio Grande Valley Sports Hall of Fame banquet Saturday, June 18, in Brownsville.
He was one of seven persons inducted into the Hall of Fame for 2011 at the Holiday Inn in Brownsville.
"Next I would like to recognize my wife, Yoli," Zamora said. "We've been married 33 years and eight days.''
The family has three grown children. Juli is an English teacher and head swim coach at Anderson High School in Austin. His son, Ronnie Jr., is a journalism teacher and head golf coach at Pace High School in Brownsville.
"My younger daughter, Laura, just graduated from the University of North Texas with a bachelor's degree in journalism, and is looking for a job, so if anyone is looking for a good writer, she has resumes with her," her father said.
"I was not athletic at all as a child," Zamora said. "I was rather wimpy. I was ill as a child, still unable to walk at the age of four.
"I knew all about sports, but I also loved math. I was going to major in engineering in college or become a math teacher or something like that. My sister, Lucy, often reminds me that I loved to help her keep her classes' grades when I was 12 years old, by hand back then, and also that I loved tracking hurricanes."
"The guy from the Brownsville Herald, Tom Drew, wanted a copy of the statistics I put together. When Tom got back from vacation, he told me, "I didn't know you could write." Then Tom told me, "Let's try to write some more," so I did. That was at least 10,000 stories ago.
"After my senior year at Brownsville High, I was very fortunate to be offered the position of sports editor for the Herald, only a few days after I turned 18.
"It took me three years, but I got my associate's degree from Texas Southmost College in 1975 and headed off to UT Austin to get my bachelor's degree in journalism.
"Writing came easy for me and I changed my mind about that engineering career. I wanted to be on the The Daily Texan, and went to the first meeting for sports writers. There were 43 people there and I was the only Hispanic, but I did not let some discrimination get to me. I pushed on writing every story that nobody else wanted to do. I stuck it out, and by the time I got to my senior year, I had a little seniority.
"I was in the right place at the right time when I got to write the farewell story about Coach Darrell Royal's last game as head coach in 1976. My last semester at UT, I applied for and got the job of sports editor. After my UT days I came back to the Valley when Tom Drew hired me again, this time as sports editor of the Valley Morning Star. After six years at the Herald, my second time there, Raul Besteiro, the Brownsville Independent School District superintendent at the time, hired me as public information officer.
"After four years, I saw an opportunity at Texas Southmost College, and for that I have Dr. Juliet Garcia to thank. She had a great vision for the future of TSC.
"I've done a lot of work with a microphone in the last 20 years. I had favorite announcers that I wished I sounded like. I don't have a great announcer voice, but I do lower my voice when I am announcing a game of some kind, so I can focus and not mumble as people tell me I do.
"I hope I have been an inspiration to others. Back in 1981, I hired two kids out of high school - Charlie Crixell and Michael Vega. I smile when I think of them now. Charlie was a longtime Sunday sports editor at the Houston Chronicle and is now news editor there. Mike is a sports writer with the Boston Globe, a position he held more than 20 years.
"People tell me I smile too much and I am too much of a nice guy. I live one day at a time. There are a lot of hectic days in my job, working many nights and weekends in the world of sports at UTB/TSC.
"I had a major heart attack almost 11 years ago. I was lucky to survive it without any complications. But there are many people who are in poor health and suffering severe complications.
"I would not be here where I am today if I had not had so many mentors and many who inspired me. I hope to have inspired others with my words and deeds and that I can continue to do it. Please remember to pray. I know that I am a walking miracle, thanks to prayer. And remember to keep God in your life.
"Thank you very much for this honor," Zamora said.