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Rich Stevens: ‘Hux’ will be watching Charleston Catholic today

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- As a 25-year veteran of the press box, I have met more parents than I care to mention.

Trust me, when I tell you that I don't seek them out.

I'm never sure what to expect from a mom or dad who isn't happy Johnny's error was mentioned, or his batting average was not.

Then, there are those who are never confrontational, but merely want to get to know you and hope it helps the cause of their "superstar" child.

John Huxley was none of those.

During his son's baseball career, which I followed closely while covering Charleston Catholic, Patrick Huxley's father was never somebody to complain.

He was one of those dads I didn't meet until after Patrick graduated in 2010, and that's unfortunate.

You see, John passed away on Wednesday night from a brief battle with pancreatic cancer.

My experience with John came when I was scheduling classes and preparing to student teach while receiving my master's degree at Marshall.

He was situated on the second floor of the Marshall Graduate College in South Charleston while serving one of his many duties - this one was as the director of the regional center for distance education and professional development.

Even when I didn't have a reason to see John, I would stop in his office and talk for an hour or two about baseball, sports ... everything except the attention that Patrick received - or didn't receive - as a high school athlete.

I would tell him what classes I was taking and John would tell me what to expect. Does this professor grade tough? If John had the answer, he would tell me. Is this professor boring? John would fill me in.

John didn't want me to spend money on books. His shelves were lined with educational manuals that he insisted I borrow.

After so many negative experiences with parents, you tend to become defensive when it isn't warranted. I walked into his office to talk about my education. It would evolve into everything but.

John battled a tougher competitor than Patrick ever faced. During Patrick's career under Catholic Coach Bill Mehle, John spent much of his free time helping the program and being a positive influence.

During his long career as a teacher in Kanawha County, Boone County and at Charleston Catholic, John touched many lives.

He didn't need to sit behind a classroom desk or jot down facts on a chalkboard to teach me.

John was friendly, engaging and helpful beyond what I could ever have hoped and, most of all, didn't expect anything in return.

I feel incredibly fortunate to have met him. When I recently heard he was diagnosed with cancer less than a year ago, it affected me.

Then I thought about his family and what they are going through, and I hurt for them.

This isn't about baseball, or any ink a high school athlete receives in a newspaper.

Quite frankly, too many people are concerned about what they can do for their children's athletic careers, instead of teaching them some of life's most important lessons. In the newspaper business, we like to call those people enablers.

John also wasn't one of those. He was what sportswriters want a parent to be and I suspect Patrick, and his daughter Jill, are better people for it.

He made it to Charleston Catholic baseball games after Patrick's graduation. Three years after his son left Catholic, John remains highly thought of in the school community.

The name "Hux" was printed on the side of their baseball caps on Memorial Day - shortly after John was moved to hospice. The Irish went out and defeated Herbert Hoover 14-9.

His name will be on the caps when the Irish face Valley in today's Class A State Tournament semifinal at around 12:30 p.m.

A seat will be reserved for John close to the Charleston Catholic dugout, which is where he spent much of his time in the spring.

I can tell you that John Huxley is a parent I'm glad I met.

I just wish I met him sooner.

Contact Assistant Sports Editor Rich Stevens at richstevens@dailymail.com or 304-348-4837.


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