Sports reporter Brent Hubbs shared considerable personal history when speaking to the Halls Prayer Breakfast on April 19 at Beaver Dam Baptist Church. He drew a laugh by saying he usually just tells a bad joke and then answers questions about UT football.
But Michelle Wilson had asked him to talk about his relationship with God and how it has informed his life and career. So Hubbs tried to oblige. He talked of growing up as a “tiny kid” in Gibbs who wanted more than anything to excel at sports. At age 11, he dropped a heavy volleyball stand on his foot. “It broke every bone and tore up ligaments and blood vessels,” he said.
Doctors anticipated amputation as young Brent’s hospital stay lengthened, first the entire foot, then half a foot, then a few toes. But Brent’s prayers were answered as his injuries healed. He never lost even one toe, but his reconstructed foot stopped growing, limiting his participation in sports.
That’s when he learned to keep score, and in high school he started reporting on Gibbs sports. “I love sports. I love to compete.”
While a student at the University of Tennessee, Brent worked with Mike Keith at Sports Talk radio. When Keith went to broadcast for the Tennessee Titans, Hubbs left the station, too. He jumped into the internet in 2000, starting www.volquest.com. He struggled to establish the business, which is now thriving with four fulltime employees.
Married with two kids, Hubbs discovered heart problems, necessitating surgery. He’s had recurring challenges and more surgery. He spoke of writing down everything his wife should know (like where he wants his kids to play sports) and then saying goodbye to his children, not knowing if he would ever see them again.
“Adversity makes us who we are; adversity defines us,” he said.
Hubbs cited integrity and responsibility as other tenets – the acronym is AIR.
Integrity to Hubbs means how you treat people – all the people you encounter. He told a funny story about how he and Keith scooped the town on UT’s hiring of men’s basketball coach Jerry Green in 1997.
To paraphrase: Mike had great contacts throughout the university. I didn’t have contacts yet, so I decided to stake out the private airport next to McGhee Tyson and, in particular, watch for the Haslam plane.
One afternoon I spotted the plane coming in. This could be it, I thought. The doors opened and a ramp came down. And there came a bicycle. And another bicycle. Then two more. Big Jim had taken his grandkids biking at Hilton Head.
And then UT announced a press conference at 5 p.m. Our show started at 3:05 and it was about 2:30 when we heard. Mike started phoning his contacts, but nobody was talking. And I remembered this person I’d met at the airport, going in to the bathroom and just hanging out. I phoned and asked who was coming in on the Haslam plane.
“You know I can’t tell you that,” said his contact. Brent begged. “OK. Can you get me tickets to the Reba McEntire concert?” asked the person. “I’ll get you front-row tickets and a steak dinner,” said Brent. “It’s Jerry Green and his wife, Nancy Green,” said the person.
Hubbs and Keith broke the story at 3:05 p.m., and Brent later won a national award for the scoop.
Folks at the sell-out breakfast left understanding what makes Brent Hubbs tick and liking the tiny guy from Gibbs whose left foot is perpetually 11 years old. He works harder than anyone else, and he never, never gives up.
The community breakfast is sponsored by the Halls Business and Professional Association, chaired by Sue Walker of Tindell’s Inc. and Denise Girard of First Century Bank. President Darren Cardwell welcomed everyone. Pianist Anne Allen and vocalist Craig Wagoner provided special music. The food was catered by Shoney’s.