Friday, January 23, 2009

Not Your Typical Sports Story...

Okay, I heard parts of this on a radio station this morning as my girls flipped through the stations--I finally asked they leave it on. I'm glad I did. I was moved to tears and thought I'd pass it along if I could find the story on the Internet. I did and here it is. The story was written by Rick Reilly of Sports Illustrated:

High school football is big in America, but I suppose there is no place where it is bigger than in Texas. Friday nights there are legend.

The fans scream; the stands are packed; cheerleaders with pom-poms jump and sway to the beat of the school bandand everybody joins in the chants and stomps their feet on the metal stands until you are sure they will collapse.

This is the frenzy of Texas high school football.

But there is one football team in Texas that is a little different. When they play on Friday night, their stands are empty, no band, no cheerleaders, no mass of parents or townsfolk wearing the school colors and waving banners and flags. They take the field without anyone cheering them on. When they score a touchdown, which rarely happens, there is no wild celebration behind them… All of it seems hollow and muffled in contrast to the tidal wave of roars and drums and chants that come from the opposing side.

They are the Tornadoes of the Gainesville State School, a fenced, maximum-security facility. The young men who go to Gainesville State are there because they have made some major mistakes in their lives. But the players who are on the team are there because they have worked hard and have earned enough good behavior points that gives them the privilege to leave the facility and play football on Friday nights—always an away game for them—always a home game for their opponents—and almost always a loss. They don’t have a weight program or training equipment or high-paid coaches and assistants. They don’t have a large pool of players to draw from. The school has 275 boys, but many are too old or too young or can’t or don’t meet the “criteria” to play. And they don’t have the support of a town and a mass of parents and family and reporters and bands and cheerleaders.

That is, until November 7th. Something changed. They played Grapevine Faith Christian School.

A few days before the game, the Gainesville coach, Mark Williams, received a call from Faith Christian coach, Kris Hogan, asking him if it would be okay if Faith formed a “spirit” line for his team when they ran on the field. Mark said, “Sure, that would be a real encouragement to the kids.” He thought that the line would consist of a couple of the JV cheerleaders, but when they took the field, there were a hundred people in it and it stretched to the 40-yard line, filled with Faith Christian parents, fans and varsity cheerleaders, complete with a banner at the end for them to burst through that read “Go Tornadoes!”. And then, those parents and fans sat in the stands behind the Gainesville players and when the Tornadoes broke the huddle and went up to the line they could hear people cheering for them, by name. When they got a first down, “their” fans erupted.

You see, Coach Hogan had sent an email out to the Faith Christian parents and students asking them to consider doing something kind for these young men, many who didn’t know what it meant to have a mom and dad who cared, many who felt the world was against them, not for them. Hogan asked that they simply send a message that these boys were “just as valuable as any other person on earth.”

So half of the Faith Christian fans were now sitting on the visitor’s side of the field, cheering for the Gainesville team, and in some cases, against their own sons. Cheering for a team decked out in mismatched old uniforms and helmets. Cheering for boys who wouldn’t go home that night and have a smiling dad slap him on the back and feel his mom put her arms around him and say “I’m so proud of you son!” Cheering for the underdog.

This was a Friday night like no other for the Tornadoes. In the locker room, the players were confused.“Why are they cheerin’ for us, coach?”

“Because, men, they want to encourage you. They want you to know that they care about you…that you have value.”

Coach Williams said the boys were stunned. For many of these kids, it may have been the first time that anyone had shown them, so visibly, unconditional love.

They were down 33 to nothing at the half. Williams encouraged his team to set a goal for the second half: to score a touchdown against this vastly superior team. And when the boys from the state school took the field again, with their fans cheering them on, everything started to click. And they did score. Not once but twice.

And the fans went wild.

Coach Williams was asked what the bus ride was like on the way home and he laughed and said that they were all asleep—their bellies were full. That’s because after the game, the parents brought a whole bunch of food over to the guys: hamburgers, fries, candy, sodas…and included in the meal sack was a Bible and a personal letter of encouragement from a Faith Christian player. But then, he said, they formed a line for us out to the bus. And the parents patted them on the back and said, “Nice game” and “Look forward to seeing you guys next time.”

As they left the field that night, Coach Williams grabbed Coach Hogan and said to him: “You’ll never know what your people did for these kids tonight. You’ll never, ever know.”

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


'Cause it's my blog, and I'll ramble if I want to.

Okay--finished the final read on the MS. One thing accomplished.

Reformatted all the interview pages for one of my the Web site pages, and got it all uploaded. Two things accomplished.

Four of five contest entries judged. Almost three things...

Now I just got to get through church tonight--dealing with @ 75 three- and four-year-olds and a dozen uncommitted leaders gets trying.

And back to the Web site...

Monday, January 19, 2009

When it rains it pours...

Not an exact match for what's going on, but three weeks ago, I was bored silly. Didn't have much to keep me busy, everyone was absorbed in their preparation or recovery from the holidays.

Now I'm up to my eye balls in things to keep busy with.

I'm judging my writing chapter's annual contest. I normally enjoy judging. But I have a couple of entries I just don't know what to do with. One is pretty--I don't want to say bad, because we all have to start somewhere--but it's rough. And sometimes it's hard to find anything nice to say except, "Congratulations for that taking that step and entering the contest." But I focused on a couple of issues. And someone else can point out the rest.

I'm the new Web mistress for the chapter as well. And what an undertaking that is--I knew it was going to be, and was one of the reasons I actually ran for the position. I'm probably one of the few people in the chapter who has more than a passing knowledge of the back end of a Web site. And so it is now my job to clean it up. The gal who originally designed it--and we love the original design--had some extensive code *on every single page*. So my task is to clean up all the code and clean up the files. Yikes. When I first took over the updates, it was overwhelming--even for me. And all I had to do was one page. A minor change of information. There was sooooooo much extraneous stuff, I just didn't know where to start. Because I play with the code--I don't look at the design view, the what-it'll-look-like view--I saw all that gobbeldy gook and felt like a three year old told to clean her room. There was no way I could deal it. I had to recreate the page from scratch. Actually, create a template to use for all the pages. It took me two days to get all the pieces-parts to fit together properly. And then I began to systematically re-create each and every page with the cleaner, sleeker, slimmer page. Ahhh... it's so much better now. I've been waiting two years to get my hands on it. And now it's mine, all mine...

I'm also supposed performing a final read on a manuscript for an e-publisher. I made the mistake of reading the whole thing first--and know I don't want to go back through and mark all the errors...but I've got to. Argh...

Started watching The West Wing through Netflix. I can spend several hours in front of the tube there...

But I did get my employees W2s all taken care of. Finally. Whew.

Well, back to the NTRWA Web site...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


My son is almost failing English again. After the hassle we went through during the six weeks previous to the six weeks just ending, why did his teacher not call us as soon as he started faltering again? Did my husband's trips to the school in three successive weeks not indicate to her that he was serious about staying on top of and being informed about our son's performance?

Just from being the PTA ringleader at my son's elementary school and dealing with the teachers at that level, I know that being a teacher is hard work. And it gets harder the older the kids get, but it just seems this particular teacher is taking the easy way out, and I have no clue if my son is really learning anything of value from her.

I realize teachers aren't paid enough for what they do. Aside from parents, teachers play a significant role in the lives of our children. Maybe if it were harder to be a teacher, like becoming a doctor or lawyer, we'd have a better people in place. On the other hand, maybe we'd have a larger shortage. But if the money's there, maybe not. We don't seem to lack for doctors or lawyers in this country.

Also, here in Texas, it seems we now teach toward the Benchmarks and TAKs tests.

Hey--What if we actually taught our children the subjects properly? Maybe they'd be able to pass real tests and really learn what they need to know to succeed in college and in life.

Monday, January 5, 2009

A few steps closer...

toward my 2009 goals. (You remember: a clean house/a finished house & a tidy yard)

The staining (& sealing) of my kitchen cabinets is finally done. The last section was completed yesterday. All *I* have left to do is paint the doors to another (built-in) cabinet. The rest is on my dear hubby.

My entertainment center (which is to say, the corner of our living room where all our entertainment devices are stacked, not an elaborate shelving system) is tidied and un-dog-haired. I pulled every cord and cable off and removed every individual component and dusted and swept. Everything went back in an orderly manner, with all excessive cables wire-tied neatly.

My back yard and patio is cardboard box free, but no completely leaf free. There are *a lot* of leaves...once the leaves are gone, the fleas are next. (Yes, my poor dogs are flea bags, but that is also on my goal list: to de-flea my house, dogs, and yard.)

After my busy weekend, I feel old and achy. I'll skip any heavy manual labor today, and rest my weary body, but back to the leaves tomorrow!

Here's to a clean and tidy new year!

Friday, January 2, 2009

It's a brand new year...

After brunch with a girlfriend, I spent the day alone...a nice little surprise,and I enjoyed it greatly. I generally don't make resolutions anymore, but I wanted to get the new year started with a clean house and yard.

So I alternately read and cleaned my house--I don't have the energy or stamina to go on a full-scale rampage any longer so I have to work then rest, work then rest, etc...

My main bathroom almost as clean as I can get it. It needs a little more scrubbing--I have a green tile floor and the grout is a lot stained and needs some TLC, but that was beyond me yesterday. Not that I didn't scrub and mop the floor, 'cause I did, but the grout needs some extensive elbow grease.

My kitchen, hallway, and living room was swept throughout the day. A (small) section of my backyard was raked and the leaves bagged for pickup today. And the patio, which could have won a Redneck-of-the-year contest, was tidied. I even did a few loads of laundry.

A another week's worth of days like yesterday would be a lovely way to get my new year started on the right foot.

My goals for 2009 include getting my kitchen and living room finished, and getting grass rather than weeds to grow in my backyard. On the writing front, I'd really like to finish another manuscript.

What are your goals for 2009?