For the most part, familiarity is a good thing. We like the comfort that comes from knowing things well — whether it be a longtime job, good friends or a favorite restaurant. But sometimes that familiarity can play tricks on your perspective, the meal at that steak place (or maybe even the job) seeming better than it really is.
The opposite can happen with familiarity as well. If you see something amazing often enough that high level becomes a base line, an expectation. People say they love to watch excellence, but watch it often enough and it can trick you a little, the extraordinary becoming ordinary. I found that to be the case in watching (and covering) high-level athletes like Maya Moore and Jeff Francoeur.
Moore, now a WNBA champion with Minnesota, was so good at Collins Hill High that it was hard to fully appreciate her talents when she was going against regular high school players. For me, it wasn't until she went to college at the University of Connecticut and dominated the college game the same way that I could fully appreciate her greatness. It was the same way with Francoeur.
Nicknamed "Superman," he more than lived up to that moniker. He made so many clutch and amazing plays, in both baseball and football at Parkview High, that anything less than a last-second touchdown catch or game-winning home run seemed ho-hum. To put it another way, had I only seen him hit five home runs in a doubleheader (he did) and never seen him again I'd have been forever amazed. That I saw him do that sort of thing on almost a weekly basis numbed me just a little to a greatness that I probably started to take a little for granted.
But I don't think I've read about, written about or met anyone who epitomizes this concept more than Kyle Maynard.
Maynard, who was featured in Sunday's paper about his quest to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, is a congenital quadruple amputee. The Collins Hill High grad was born without arms and legs below what would be considered his elbows and knees. In this county, those things are well known, as are Maynard's many exploits.
Here at the Daily Post we've covered Maynard, now 25, from his days playing youth football, through his high school wrestling career to a stint in mixed martial arts. He has been in a film that aired on ESPN, his autobiography has graced the New York Times bestseller list and he's won an ESPY.
In short, Maynard has spent his life making the extraordinary look ordinary. And I'm sure he wouldn't want it any other way.
I remember attending games at Collins Hill years ago, with Maynard in the crowd moving around and interacting with his friends. Even then he had an ease and charisma about him that should have tipped people off to the amazing things he would pursue.
Climbing Kilimanjaro is just the latest.
I've come to expect such amazing things from Maynard, that if you told me he was going to drive for Richard Childress Racing next year I'd hardly bat an eye. But imagine what it's like when people who don't know Maynard's background and aren't from this area learn of his exploits. They aren't awed as much as stunned. They simply can't believe it. And that includes soldiers, Maynard inspiring the inspirational.
Maynard has been on HBO's "Real Sports" and he's appeared on CNN talking to Larrry King. But Gwinnett County knew his story long before that. So I'm happy to have tha familiarity with him, and even happier to have the chance to remind people what an unbelievable inspriation Kyle Maynard is.
Email Todd Cline at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears on Wednesdays.