Asthma prematurely ended his college baseball career at Montevallo, but DeWayne Peevy wanted to stay around the sport so he was told he could help out in the school's sports information department.
He showed up for his first game only to find confusion over the starting time had left no one else to work. With no previous experience, Peevy served as public address announcer, operated the scoreboard and kept the scorebook. All at the same time.
A career was born.
"After that the coaches said, 'Why don't you just do it,'" recalled Peevy. "I've been in college sports ever since."
Twenty years later, the 41-year-old Birmingham native is the No. 2 man in University of Kentucky Athletics, deputy director to AD Mitch Barnhart and confidant to head basketball coach John Calipari.
In recent years, UK has become almost a training ground for future athletic directors at major colleges. Greg Byrne is AD at Arizona. Rob Mullens is AD at Oregon. Scott Stricklin is AD at Mississippi State. Mark Coyle is AD at Boise State. All were Barnhart assistants.
Could Peevy be next?
"Absolutely," Barnhart said this week. "He has all the qualities to be a great athletic director."
Peevy never thought he'd be in this position. A 1996 University of Montevallo graduate with a degree in accounting, Peevy had no intention of pursuing a career in sports administration.
He was offered and accepted a media director's job with the Gulf South Conference, however, and a year later returned to his alma mater as the school's sports information director.
Three years after that, out of the blue, the SEC called and the next thing you know he was meeting with Commissioner Roy Kramer.
"Talk about being intimidated," Peevy said. "But he sat me down at a table and put himself at my level. He had all my Montevallo media guides laid out and he told me he had read through them and that I did a great job. He really put me at ease."
Peevy worked eight years for the SEC as the league's basketball contact. He traveled with the commissioner to attend conference games. He assisted Kramer's successor when Mike Slive was on the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament Selection Committee.
Peevy applied for the UK media relations job in 2004, losing out to Stricklin. When Stricklin left to join Greg Byrne at Mississippi State in 2008, he called and asked Peevy to apply for his old position. Peevy did and was hired.
Billy Gillispie was in his second and final year as the UK basketball coach. The two were Dallas Cowboys fans. They got along fine. But a year later, on April Fools' Day, John Calipari became the Kentucky basketball coach and everything changed.
"It was a whirlwind," Peevy said. "The whole job really changed."
With Gillispie, Peevy had to call in favors at ESPN to get the network to invite the UK coach to Bristol. When Calipari became coach, suddenly ESPN and every other news outlet was twisting Peevy's arm for access to Cal.
Thanks in part to Twitter, Peevy and Calipari hit it off from the start. Indiana Coach Tom Crean had told Calipari he needed a Twitter account. Calipari asked Peevy about it. Thanks to his wife, Allison, Peevy had already played around with Twitter enough to know how to set up Calipari's account.
"The rest is history," said Peevy of @UKCoachCalipari, which boasts more than 1.3 million followers. "That helped with our relationship because we talked about three or four times a day. Cal didn't tweet but we talked back and forth about what we should tweet."
The working relationship grew from there to the point where Calipari will often say in public settings, 'DeWayne told me this' or 'I told DeWayne that.'"
"I trust him," said the UK coach. "As a matter of fact, he's the only person I've given my schedule to. In other words, he oversees my schedule. I've never had that outside my office, in all my years of coaching. With him, though, I felt really comfortable. I said, 'Take it and now you come to me instead of me going to you' which tells you what I think about him."
Barnhart showed what he thought three years ago by promoting Peevy to senior associate athletics director, then executive associate AD. Then last April, Peevy was promoted to deputy AD.
"I knew I had a good work ethic, which I got from my mom," said Peevy of Shirley Sims. "She was a youth detention officer. I grew up in a single-parent home for most of my childhood, but I never thought about getting into trouble because of my mom."
At UK, Peevy has sometimes kept others out of trouble.
"I will not say he is unoffendable, because everyone gets their feelings hurt from time to time," Barnhart said, "but he manages that emotional side of our industry very, very well. He's very steady."
Added the AD, with a laugh, "I'm probably not as steady."
"You can vent with him and he doesn't get rattled," Calipari said. "He's talked me out of stuff. He'll be like, 'Don't do it. Just walk. You don't need to deal with it.' Then sometimes he'll come to me and say here's something you need to address. And I'll say, 'Why?' and then we'll address it. I would say he's one of the brightest I've been around."
Peevy also holds the distinction of being the highest-ranking black administrator ever in UK Athletics, which has employed blacks as head coaches in both men's and women's basketball and football, but never as AD.
Peevy said he was not aware of that and in one way it's not a big deal — "He's really good at what he does and he happens to be black," Calipari said — but in another way it is a big deal.
"I do feel there's a responsibility," said Peevy, adding he remembers "what a big deal that was" when Damon Evans became the SEC's first black athletic director at Georgia.
Peevy was also working in the SEC office when Mississippi State hired Sylvester Croom, the conference's first black head football coach.
"I do know there were not a lot of people to point to in 2000 when I was starting out," Peevy said as far as blacks in administration positions. "Here we are in 2015 and 15 years later there are still not a lot.
"I feel like people don't look at the race factor in the hiring process, but I think the individuals don't think about themselves being in that job. I know I wasn't thinking that I could be an AD or be an administrator, so I want to be that for younger people. I want them to think, 'Hey, I could do that one day.'"
No one doubts Peevy can do that one day, whenever that day comes. For now, he and Allison and their children, 14-year-old Kaitlyn and 7-year-old Braden, love Lexington. Peevy's learned a lot and knows he has a lot still to learn.
"When I was promoted to deputy and began working right there with Mitch, that was the first time I was really even thinking about wanting to be an AD," he said.
"He's fully ready," said Barnhart. "There have been some nibbles, but these days you have to be careful to land in the right spot. I just know that he will be a tremendous AD when given the opportunity and when he chooses to do that."