Tomorrow at noon. #BigThingsComing
— Alex Funderburke (@AlexFunderburke) May 27, 2017
I tweeted this the day before the biggest and most important article I’ve ever written was published. Little did I know what that hashtag at the end of that tweet would become. Not only was it the last line of the next day’s article, it would become a motto, a mindset and so much more.
To most, if you read “#BigThingsComing” and just look at the surface of it, you’ll probably think “Oh he probably has something dropping soon, and it’s rather important” – and, well, you’d be right. But those three words also represent 18 years of being slept on, teased, and being told I can’t do something simply because I have a disability.
Growing up a military brat, I moved around a lot. The first place I remember living was Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Back then I didn’t know I was different and no one ever said anything to me about the way I walked. I thought every kid goes to physical and occupational therapy once a week, but my family’s next move would be a rude awakening.
I landed in Middletown, Rhode Island around the time of the World Series (I remember time by sporting events, bear with me). I went into my first-grade class and instantly was getting odd looks from kids, and I assumed this was because I was a new kid who came a month late.
Later that day, I was asked: “why do you walk like that?”
I’ve been asked the question before but I never had to answer it for myself; the teacher assigned to help me through the day would divert the question and ask the kid about something else. This new teacher didn’t know me yet, so she didn’t divert the attention, I don’t remember what I said, but I know I didn’t answer it. I probably thought “what do they mean?”.
The school playground had a huge grass field beside it and kids would play touch football. I was still in my first week or so at this new school and I decided that I would go play some football. There were only fourth graders there and I was the only first grader asking to play (which was wild even without CP) and they laughed at me and said I walked funny. I left with an instant feeling of hurt, as most kids at that age would. That’s when I realized I might actually be different than everyone else.
My safety net was sports; it didn’t matter if it was watching it or playing baseball for the local Newport YMCA. Sports was my strong suit, and I always knew more than everyone else. I could spit out any baseball or football statistic and it would be correct.
I knew stuff about sports that no other first grader knew, I had the knowledge of someone at ESPN; My uncle even called me “Sportscenter”. Name a player on any team, chances are I knew them and could give you their stats.
If I was getting picked on at school, I’d get home and lose myself in the Yankees game, the Army or Duke basketball game, a football game, it didn’t matter what sport, they made me happy again. It was my outlet, it always has been and probably always will be.
When no one could understand what I was going through, it’s weird but it felt like sports did in a sense. When a game was on everything was perfect, the only thing that could go wrong was my team losing.
That’s where writing comes into play; writing about college sports have slowly become that safety net and it’s turned into my career goal. My writing has turned #BigThingsComing into what it is today.
It’s a saying that tells you no matter where you are at the moment, it can always be bigger and better. It could be the next minute, next day, next month, or years away, but things will get better and big things will come.
I remember after my first radio interview all of my family and friends were congratulating me, but I knew that interview was only the beginning. I’m not trying to sound like I’m ungrateful for that opportunity; it was a learning experience that helped me grow.
One of my goals is to be an Army Athletics broadcaster, like Rich Demarco does now. My connection with Army Athletics runs deep, as I wrote about in my first personal article; I’ll never get to go to the academy, but I love it all the same. Calling an Army game is a big goal, but my dream job is to end up as a host on ESPN’s SportsCenter.
It’s a show I’ve watched since I was a little baby; my parents say that when they would put cartoons for toddlers on, I would say “sports show” to tell them I wanted to watch SportsCenter. Deep down I’ve always had dream to be on that program.
I’ve known I wanted to have a job that involves sports in some fashion, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do or how I was going to do it. Was I going to be a player, coach, in the front office, working for an athletic department, or was I going to be a part of the press? Until August 2016 I really didn’t know, but around that time is when I found my love for writing, and that has turned ESPN into a more and more realistic goal.
It started out as a hashtag I threw out to feel good about what I had done; now it’s a motto that gets me excited about everywhere I’m going to go.