By JOHN MARCASE
Written for the LSWA
There is a fine line between being stubborn and being dedicated.
Philip Timothy blended the two perfectly.
That may explain why Timothy is being presented with the highest honor in Louisiana sports journalism – the 2019 Distinguished Service Award in Sports Journalism from the Louisiana Sports Writers Association.
That means Timothy is being inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame along with the rest of the Class of 2019 Saturday, June 8, in Natchitoches. For information on the June 6-8 Induction Celebration call 318-238-4255.
In November 1999, Timothy, then serving as assistant sports editor at the Alexandria Town Talk, helped put the paper to bed one Friday night during the high school football playoffs. That meant he left the office after midnight. Timothy drove to his camp in the Saline-Larto Complex to go duck hunting the next morning.
After the hunt, he drove home to clean up before heading into the office to help work on Sunday’s paper. About 200 yards from his house, he fell asleep at the wheel of his truck. He awoke the next morning at Rapides Regional Medical Center with both feet and ankles shattered, external fixators protruding from both legs.
By the time he moved to a rehab hospital, Timothy was back writing stories. As long as he could type and use a phone, he decided, he also could work.
Stubborn or dedicated? Or both?
“I never thought P.T. was stubborn for stubborn’s sake,” said Raymond A. Partsch III, who worked with Timothy at The Town Talk in Alexandria. “To some, he may have come off as stubborn, but what appears to be stubbornness is just a reflection of his immense passion for sports journalism – whether that is for page design, headline writing or writing a story. Philip truly believed in what he was doing and would defend that with every ounce of his being. That is something you always had to admire and respect.”
“I wanted to be a school teacher and teach history,” said Timothy, whose parents, Philip Sr. and Janette, were both longtime public school teachers in Rapides Parish. “My dad talked me out of it. He told me he would not help me with college if I went into education.”
Timothy was part of the first sophomore class at Alexandria Senior High, but due to a parish-wide court order, was forced to finish high school at Tioga High School. It proved to be a turning point in his life.
“As a senior, I met Donna Howell, who was an English teacher,” said Timothy. “She said I had a gift for writing and I should try to be a writer.”
Timothy already knew he was going to college at Northwestern State, where both of his parents went.
“I majored in journalism and minored in English,” he said. “I thought I was going to be on TV. I was majoring in broadcast journalism. My advisor, Ezra Adams, questioned why I got into journalism. He said I didn’t have a propensity for words. That made me bow my neck and get to work and prove him wrong … when someone tells me I can’t do something, it’s engrained in me that I’m gonna do that.”
Timothy worked for the school paper, Current Sauce, as well as in the sports information department, and he called Demon baseball games on the radio. Finally, Dan McDonald, a 2017 DSA recipient, asked Timothy to be the Current Sauce’s sports editor. A career took off.
“That was the beginning of it,” said Timothy.
Timothy has never stepped foot inside the Hall of Fame since it opened in 2013 on Front Street in Natchitoches. The first time he will do so will be in June during the induction weekend.
Despite the numerous awards he has won – more than 80 national, regional and state awards at last count – Timothy remains grounded in what is important: his faith and his family. He serves as managing editor of the Louisiana Baptist Message and teaches Sunday School at his church in Deville; he’s also a proud grandfather of two and has another grandbaby on the way.
And he is thankful for the legacy he has left around the state as a writer and editor who focused on high school athletes.
“I covered them when they were nobodies,” he said. “I was there as they developed into the athletes they became.
“After I went to The Town Talk, I got a card from a guy asking if I was the Philip Timothy from the Red River Journal. He wrote, ‘I have everything you ever wrote about me in a book.’ That meant the world to me. It showed me I made an impact. I wanted to make an impact as a teacher, but this was the next best thing.”