Gayble Moss Memorial Golf and Tennis Tournament 2023
On June 11, 2010, my world came crashing down.
The unexpected happened to my family, along with several other families in the surrounding area. I had always heard of horrible things happening to others, but I never imagined that my family would be a part of such a story. On that day, we lost Gayble, our seven-year-old spunky, fun, loving daughter, in an unexpected, horrific flood at Camp Albert Pike.
The first year after this devastating event occurred was a blur for me. I recall just trying to survive one day at a time. I struggled to cope from one hour to the next, as the pain was unbearably present - every minute of the day. Those who have experienced the loss of a child are all too familiar with the day-by-day process and pain. Losing someone you love so deeply is something you never “get over.” During this period, I heard so many clichés such as “time heals all wounds” and that I needed “to move on,” but what I eventually realized is that while I was without my baby girl, I could only move forward with God’s help and direction. This was not the life I had planned, but it was the life God had planned for me. God had thrown me a curveball, and I had to learn to live the best I could with the hand that I was dealt. After losing Gayble, I often have to remind myself, my family, and my friends, that “life is ten percent what you make it and ninety percent how you take it.” While I could not control what had happened to Gayble, I could control how I would respond.
Several months after losing Gayble, someone suggested we start a golf and tennis tournament to honor her. At first, I thought it was the craziest idea I had ever heard. Yes, our family, including Gayble, loved to play tennis, but golf was an entirely different story! No one in our family played golf, and we had no clue how to plan and host a golf tournament. However, I was assured by many friends and supporters that we would have help and guidance in organizing the event. Reluctantly, I agreed to give it a whirl. I loved the idea of honoring Gayble and keeping her memory alive. With the proceeds from the event, our family started a scholarship fund at St. James Day School to benefit children who might not have the financial ability to attend this private school. This scholarship would eventually provide full tuition for a child’s entire education at St. James.
Prior to the first Gayble Moss event, my husband, Swan B., had never played golf in his life. So, we had a little fun with his lack of golf experience. Our dear friend, Jeff McGuire (better known as JMac), had the bright idea of picking out Swan B.’s golf outfit each year. If you don’t know how to play, you should probably be the best-dressed one out there, right? To this day, JMac picks out his outfit each year, and Swan B. doesn’t get to see it until it is time for him to get dressed. Let me tell you, while Swan B. may not know how to hit a golf ball, he is definitely the cutest “golfer” on the course, thanks to his buddy, JMac.
I cannot describe what this annual tournament now means to our family. Celebrating Gayble’s life each year is amazing, and seeing the outpouring of love and support of our friends, family, and community is incredibly heartwarming. It is mind-blowing what this little idea so many years ago has now turned into. This year will be the 13th anniversary of the event, and will take place on Friday and Saturday, October 20 and 21.
We have been extremely fortunate to have hosted this tournament for 13 years with only one hiccup. Things always went smoothly until 2020, when COVID-19 hit. Imagine this: it was the week of the tournament, and we were setting up the black lights at NCC. I noticed I was not feeling great but tried to ignore it. However, I knew this was something I couldn’t ignore if that meant potentially exposing the weekend crowd to the dreaded new virus. Lo and behold, I got tested, and it was positive! What on earth were we going to do now? The tournament was literally two days away! We decided to move forward with the golf portion of the weekend but postponed the tennis event for a later date. Through the years, I’ve had the most amazing volunteers, but being in quarantine took that to a new level. I will be forever grateful to people like Jeff and Darrah McGuire, who stepped up and ran things without us, making it an enormous success that year.
2020 was the tenth anniversary of starting the tournament. To celebrate, Rusty Tarwater had an extraordinary surprise for me that, fortunately, he could reschedule for our new date. Rusty and I planned on playing together, and, of course, I planned to win the big trophy since I’d be playing with my coach. But, as the tournament started, Rusty announced he would not play with me. I was confused until he revealed he had a different partner in mind; I would be playing with none other than the former French Open doubles CHAMPION, Luke Jensen. I was speechless—excited and nervous all at the same time. Little ol’ me was about to share a court with a real-life champion. Unfortunately, my nerves got the best of me, and I could barely get my serve in. Even more embarrassing, we lost our first match and ended up in the consolation bracket. I will never live down losing a match with a French Open champion as my partner, but fortunately, we won the consolation bracket, and he could take home one of the coveted Gayble Moss trophies. He assured me he would put it next to his French Open trophy.
Luke has been gracious enough to come back every year since my big surprise. I am incredibly grateful that Luke shares his amazing talents with Texarkana. His resume includes 10 ATP Tour doubles titles and singles victories against Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Ivan Lendl, John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg, Jimmy Connors, Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg, and Jim Courier. He and his brother, Murphy, won the 1993 French Open doubles title. He was also a member of the 1991 and 1992 Davis Cup Teams. His ambidextrous play (including his ability to serve the ball with either hand at 130 miles per hour) earned him the nickname “Dual Hand Luke.” He will be returning this year as my tennis partner and running a few drills. Spaces are limited, so you will want to take advantage of the opportunity to learn from a champ.
Through the years, the Gayble Moss Memorial Golf and Tennis Tournament has provided a sense of healing for our family. The lives changed by the scholarship money are priceless. The love and support we have felt has been overwhelming. To see the sacrifices made to ensure this event takes place is incredibly heartwarming. Through the years, I have had parents tell me this is their kid’s favorite event of the year. I can’t think of a bigger compliment. I want to thank everyone for all they do to ensure this tournament is a tremendous success. I especially want to thank everyone who continues to sponsor and sign up to participate year after year. We certainly couldn’t do it without you. I want to give a very special thanks to Ann and Rusty Tarwater for their hard work managing the kid’s tennis tournament. They make it extra fun for all involved.
This year’s schedule of events will kick off Friday, October 20, at Northridge Country Club, with a four-man golf scramble and an adult tennis mixer in the evening, which includes dinner and live music with the Moss Brothers. This year, we will also celebrate Gayble turning 21 with the US Open “honey deuce” drink special. Many participants dress in blue (Gayble’s favorite color), making this mama’s heart explode. The golfers are all decked out; some even have Gayble’s name or her favorite peace sign monogrammed on their shirts. During the adult tennis event that night, you might see blue tutus, blue hair, blue face paint, and more peace signs than you can imagine. Saturday the 21st, at Texas High School, Luke Jensen drills, little kids’ tennis, and the middle school and high school tennis tournament will take place. If you think the adults go all out, you need to come out and see the kids. They have a lot of fun coming up with cute tennis outfits. I am always amazed at the creativity! Seeing these outfits come to life, especially during the glow-in-the-dark tennis, is super exciting. There is something fun that day for kids of all ages.
Don’t miss out on the fun! Please visit gayblemoss.com to register.