Sevier County's Kody Paul happy to be competing again

Mar. 11, 2014 @ 02:59 PM

Opening Day is always special.

There’s a never-ending supply of hope and optimism on a warm afternoon where everyone is starting over. That was especially true for Sevier County third baseman Kody Paul on Monday. Six months after suffering a devastating knee injury in a football game against Dobyns-Bennett, Paul was competing again.

“I was like a kid,” Paul said after the Smoky Bears’ 5-1 loss to South-Doyle. “I was like a fat kid in a candy shop, I guess. I still get the chill bumps every time I run out on the field. Just being able to run, it’s a different feeling.”

Running and walking were a challenge for Paul last fall. He spent much of the football season in the training room instead of on a practice field. When he finally started to get back into tossing baseballs around, he called up Sevier County shortstop and football teammate Alan Silva. Silva said he could tell Paul was anxious to get back on a field, any field.

“He was like, ‘Alan, can you come in here and will you throw with me?,” Silva said. “He’s out there. He’s so excited. I’m just excited to watch him play now.”

Paul figures to be a key cog for the Bears in 2014. Coach Casey Taylor said before the season the junior was one of the guys Sevier County needs to step up and drive in runs. He drew a walk in a pivotal spot on Monday when the Bears were down 2-1 in the fourth. While that free pass led to runners on second and third, Sevier County couldn’t bring in a run.

While Paul said he was disappointed with the loss, it didn’t dampen the excitement from being able to compete, finally. Dalton Ford, who drove in the game’s only run, said his teammate would be a big part of the Bears in 2014 and should’ve been a big part of the football team’s run to the state quarterfinals.

“Oh gosh, he’s an outstanding third baseman,” Ford said. “We really couldn’t put anyone else on third. Definitely a key role in the field and hitting.”

Paul wears a knee brace when he plays but said the knee he injured, his left, feels stronger than his right one. Silva said he’s just happy to have his teammate back beside him in the infield.

“I’m glad he’s back,” Silva said. “He’s like one of my best friends. I’m glad he’s out there playing with me.”