Editor’s Note: With social distancing guidelines firmly established, Sports Editor Daniel Mayes is conducting phone interviews with area athletes from the safety of a secluded corner of the Daily Citizen-News office. Quarantine Chronicles is a Q&A series with local sports standouts about their daily lives during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Dalton High School senior Bryce Houghton didn’t get to play in his final football season, and now his high school baseball career is in limbo.
With the outbreak of the new coronavirus (COVID-19), sports of all classifications have wound up suspended or cancelled, and that’s no different for Georgia high schools. Houghton didn’t play football in the fall while working back from an elbow injury, and the final baseball campaign for the pitcher and outfielder could be in danger of ending after 13 games.
“I want to get back out there with my teammates,” Houghton said. “I don’t want it to end.”
Fortunately for Houghton, he’s set to play at the next level.
“It makes it a lot easier knowing that I get to play again, and it’s not done for good,” he said.
Houghton recently announced his commitment to play baseball at Cleveland State Community College in Tennessee, who Houghton said stayed with him despite the injury to the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.
“Last spring, at the end of May, I tore my UCL and had to have surgery,” Houghton said. “Last summer was supposed to be a big summer for me as far as recruiting goes. I was excited about that, and it got taken away.”
“It gives me time to go there for two years and strengthen my arm and hopefully transfer,” Houghton said. “I just get to keep playing the game I love."
Question: What are you up to while learning from home?
Answer: We have digital learning, so I’ll wake up in the morning and do some schoolwork. I work out usually once or twice a day and then throw just to keep my arm in shape just in case we get to play again so my arm is still good. Of course, “MLB 20: The Show” just came out, so I’ve been grinding on that.
Q: Do you like staying at home, or would you rather be in school?
A: Especially being my senior year, I’d much rather be in school. My younger self would have never said that. I wish I was in school and hanging out with my teammates.
Q: What was your reaction when you heard that your season would be suspended?
A: The virus hadn’t hit too bad here yet, so I was confused. I was mad. Then it slowly started hitting here. I was like ‘I didn’t get to play football this year, which was rough in its own right, and now baseball might be gone, too.’ I’m still just holding out hope, but no matter what, I know that God has a plan for it.
Q: What has been your favorite moment of your high school sports career so far?
A: One of my coolest moments was in my freshman year. My brother (former Dalton standout Maddux Houghton, who now plays baseball at Lipscomb University) was a senior. He was playing shortstop, and I was playing second. We turned a double play. With him being three years older than me, I never thought we would get to do something like that. It was cool.
Q: What is your favorite memory from high school outside of sports?
A: We have a dodgeball tournament each year. This year, I wasn’t going to get to play in it, and we threw together a team of a bunch of seniors last minute. We didn’t do very well, but it was fun just going out there and playing with them.
Q: Who is one person you look up to?
A: Definitely Maddux. We’ve both always loved baseball. Watching him play has just solidified how much I want to play at the next level. He’s been back for a week-and-a-half, and we’ve been working out together. We push each other to get better every day.
Q: Who is your favorite athlete?
A: I’ll probably go with (New York Mets starting pitcher) Marcus Stroman. He’s a lot like me, he’s not very tall, but he’s proving everybody wrong. He’s got a brand that is ‘height doesn’t measure heart,’ and I think that’s true. A lot of people think that pitchers need to have that 6’5” frame, but he’s proving everybody wrong (Stroman is listed at 5’8”, Bryce is 5’10”).
Q: What is your favorite movie?
A: “Facing the Giants.” In that movie, the coach faces so many obstacles. He just sticks with it and focuses his relationship on God. They end up going on and winning state, and that’s just awesome.
Q: What’s your favorite app on your smartphone?
A: Right now, it’s probably (video conferencing app) Zoom. I’m having to do so many Zoom conferences with teachers, and it’s kind of fun.