Looking back at 2022: Top five sports stories of the year

Dec. 31—As today is the closing day of 2022, The Item recaps the top five sports stories of the year. On Thursday we took a look back at the first half of the top 10 stories, and today we will relive the rest of the stories.

Below will be the remaining stories with an excerpt from the original story.

5. 50 years in the making: New Waverly's 1972 state semifinal team hosts reunion

In December of 1972 at Pritchett field, New Waverly football squared off against Big Sandy, the home of Houston Texans head coach Lovie Smith.

The Bulldogs squared off against Big Sandy and would come away with a 7-6 win, advancing the Bulldogs to the UIL Texas semi-finals game, where they would lose to Chilton 21-14 the next week.

After that former New Waverly head coach, Tim Edwards would leave for Hallettsville and the team would disband for nearly 50 years. That all changed when the team got back together last Friday.

"It was just heartwarming," Edwards said. "To see what they have done in life, and tell me that I was a part of it. It's just overwhelming. There were just a lot of really good success stories that I heard today. Just hearing about those stories, the girls they married, it's been a wonderful day."

The former coach was able to travel back to New Waverly for the Bulldogs' game against Hemphill where he reunited with several members of the team, some of whom he hasn't seen since 1972.

The reunion saw several members drive in for the event to see their old head coach. When Edwards arrived at the Junior high, which was the former high school, and saw some of his former players, the memories of them flourished through his mind.

4. Next Chapter: Huntsville seniors ready to play at the next level

In a gym full of athletes, family and friends, Huntsville High School saw seven senior athletes sign to play their respective sports at the next level.

The Hornets saw five more football signings, one girls' basketball signing and a boys' soccer signing.

Huntsville's athletes in Alyiah Craft signed to play basketball for Lamar University, Matthew Long, Calvin Simmons and Trevion Garret all signed to play football for Texas Southern University, Christian Avelar sign to kick for Blinn, Seth Carrol signed to play at East Texas Baptist University and Max Mundorff sign to Austin College for soccer.

3. From Eclipse to Bulldogs: Ortiz joins New Waverly staff

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David Ortiz has been named the next coach of the New Waverly boys' and girls' soccer teams.

Colton Foster

The Item

Huntsville native and F.C. Eclipse coach David Ortiz will now take his talents to the next level.

"It's exciting," Ortiz said. "I'm honored to have a chance to coach at the high school level. I'm excited to show off what I can do at the high school."

Ortiz, who has been with F.C. Eclipse for a handful of years, will now become the boys' and girls' head coach after David Arana retired at the conclusion of the school year.

Arana brought soccer back to New Waverly back in 2018 with just an addition of a boys' team. The Bulldogs would add girls' soccer in 2020.

Since the return, New Waverly soccer has had some ups and downs but Ortiz is ready for the challenge.

"It's a great step in my career," Ortiz said. " I've always wanted to be a high school coach. I will always be a part of the eclipse but this is a solid stepping stone for my career. I appreciate New Waverly for giving me the opportunity. It's a young program but I'm ready to come in and make great changes and put New Waverly on the map."

2. From Huntsville to the Power Five: Briones continues coaching career with UCLA

Adrian Briones celebrate

Adrian Briones celebrates with the Bruins on the sideline.

Photo Courtesy UCLA Athletics

Adrian Briones grew up in Huntsville and graduated from Huntsville High School in 2002 before heading to Tyler Junior College (TJC) as a walk-on defensive end.

After spending two years at TJC, he would transfer to Belhaven College in Jackson, Miss., to finish his playing career.

Now, Briones is currently the associate director of football performance for UCLA and helps create plans for injured offensive and defensive big-skill players to return to the field. He moved into the role after being at the University of Southern California as an assistant strength and conditioning coach for football during 2020 and 2021.

Briones first got his start in the profession in his senior year at Belhaven. That's where he met strength coach Bo Sandoval who gave him a chance with small tasks.

"I helped out every now and then," Briones said. "I did really small projects, special needs cards for my teammates and things like that."

After being named an intern strength coach at Belhaven, Briones was selected for an internship with the United States Olympic Committee in Colorado Springs before the Beijing Olympics in 2008. He would also serve as a volunteer strength coach with the U.S. Air Force Academy at the same time.

But it wasn't until he went to the University of Tennessee that Briones got his start in rehabilitation.

"I was there for three years and that's what really expedited my knowledge of dealing with healthy and injured athletes," Briones said. " I was very fortunate enough to work with very intelligent people and people that not only were intelligent but were also willing to share the knowledge and give it to the next upcoming group of coaches."

And the top story of the 2022 year was...

1. SHSU spirit teams not permitted to attend NCA Nationals

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Sam Houston's cheer team roots for the Bearkats volleyball team during their game against Stephen. F. Austin.

Matthew Piasecki

mpiaseckiphotos

Monday afternoon Sam Houston State University's cheerleading and orange pride dance teams were told they were no longer permitted to compete at the NCA Nationals in Daytona Beach, Fla.

The news comes after reported "hazing" from several months ago, but the punishment is now being carried out against the whole team. SHSU cheer was allowed to support the fall sports and have been at football and volleyball games supporting the teams.

At Sam Houston, cheerleading and orange pride dance is considered a student activity and considered a spirit program under student activities, not athletics.

Editor's note: Since the release of this story, SHSU has reversed its decision and will now allow all of its spirit programs to compete in Nationals.

While 2022 was a full year, The Item hopes you enjoyed all of the sports content and we look forward to bringing you more in 2023.