For Tanner Wall and Jackson Payne, longtime local friends are now far away and living their dreams together, each involved with the Brigham Young University football team in different ways.
Wall, a 2018 Yorktown High School graduate, is a first-year catcher and special teams player for the Cougars. McLean High 2018 graduate Payne covers the team as the chief sports reporter for the Daily Universe school newspaper. He is also the beat writer for other BYU sports, including basketball, and writes opinion pieces.
The two recently met on the BYU field following the Cougars’ victory over main rival Utah, ending a 12-game losing streak against their nemesis. Wall didn’t play in the game, but adapted for the first time. Payne wrote a story about the contest.
“It was pretty special to have this experience and share it together, and do something that we both talked about. Absolutely, the stars have aligned, ”Payne said. “Tanner was on the pitch for the first time and I was in the press box covering the game, then I was able to go down to the pitch and find him after the win.”
The two got to know each other growing up in the Arlington and McLean neighborhoods, attending the same church and playing sports. While Wall was an outstanding football and baseball player in Yorktown, Payne was a sports reporter and editor of the McLean School Newspaper. He wrote about Wall on the occasion when McLean and Yorktown first met in football and baseball.
The two often got together to talk about sports in high school.
“We’re going back a long way,” said Payne, a communications and sports journalism major. “I used to go to his games in high school and he would read my stories and give me his comments. We were each other’s biggest fans.
Going forward, Payne said he and Wall hope their good fortune continues at BYU and beyond.
“We want to do a lot more,” said Payne, who hopes to become a professional sports journalist after college, a presenter, a sports journalist on TV or radio or host some sports program.
Before going to college, the pair also discussed their wish to continue their education and get involved in these activities at Brigham Young. The game between BYU and Utah became that milestone, as each had to complete their two-year assignments for school at different times first. The two regularly texted and emailed each other, updating each other on their assignments.
These missions have been interrupted in various ways due to COVID.