A welcome announced over the loud speaker at the Happy game made me laugh. The announcer stated that Texas 1A Fan was visiting and said, “We don’t know her name, but she’s here. Welcome!” To solve the mystery, my name is Bobbie Brown and I’m from Jayton, Texas. If you were born in the 80’s, I’m sure you’re singing It’s My Prerogative in your head or maybe Don’t Be Cruel. Yes, I’ve actually had people sing to me. It can be quite entertaining.
I’m a doer. I get stuff done. When following my kids and taking pictures came to an end, I noticed I really missed it. If I could do it for one school, why couldn’t I do it for an entire classification? Made a name, a website, twitter, and Facebook and voila! Texas 1A Fan. See? Doer.
Of course, it’s more than that. You know that feeling of excitement you get in your gut when Friday night approaches during football season or when it’s time for a basketball tournament or even a very windy track meet? Yeah. That’s what drives me. My good friends think I’m crazy. But the older I get, the more I seek to do things I love… the things that make me happy. And being Texas 1A Fan makes me incredibly happy. We all get that feeling from time to time. Feels good, doesn’t it?
Small town Texas and 1A schools are unique. Each town has decade-long traditions, and we are all a family. We know everyone in town and their aunts, uncles, kids, parents, and even their dog’s name. We know when we see a zebra wandering in the back acre, someone needs to call Ms. Long because Ziggy has escaped once again. We all have our funny small town stories. And they are our pride and joy.
I write commentary about my visits to various towns because of these cool stories. I really enjoy experiencing the many traditions, feeling the excitement, the fanfare, hearing the loud horns and bells, and different school and fight songs. Others have stats and players and teams covered, but no one talks about what makes each town, team, or school unique. I think those things are an important part of the 1A story. You all are a part of the story. Coaches, fans, students, players, and each town contribute.
I used to be one. It gives me a different perspective because I know what it’s like to put my livelihood in the hands of a teenager and see that teenager blossom into a wonderful human being so very capable of many great things! I enjoy meeting coaches before or even after the game. I normally talk to coaches when they are getting ready to coach a game. It’s probably not the best time, but those I’ve met this year have been very welcoming. Do I have my favorites? Of course, I do! There are several I’ve known since childhood and others I have met through various activities. But then there are those coaches I meet and just can’t help but really like because I can see how much their players mean to them. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why they coach. The kids. They have a desire to help kids. To teach kids. To make them into good teammates. And citizens. The next time you get upset with your kid’s coach, remember they are human. They are not perfect. And if they are coaching in a 1A school, then they are doing a jillion things all at once with one thing in mind… making a kid better. Pretty cool, huh?
I love the fans. You all make the game more exciting! You burn up in August and September and freeze in November. Pregame rituals are important and showing undying support is your goal. I like to see folks leaning on the fence around the field. Ira has a nifty ledge that runs along the top of the fence. It sure looks like it’s easy on the forearms during the lean and yell maneuver. Some fans man the school horn. I know of one fan from Balmorhea who built a horn this past summer. It is incredibly loud. One thing is for certain; all fans love the sound of their horn or bell. You all want to hear it more than the other team hears theirs. I might have to dream up a 1A school horn/bell contest! You make treat bags and signs and wrap streamers around every highway sign in the county along the route to the game. You wave signs and pictures of player heads in the stands and shake gallon jugs or coffee cans filled with small rocks. The more noise the better and yelling until neck veins pop out and voices are completely lost or sound like raspy whispers is an every game occurrence. And you wouldn’t change a thing! You love the game. You love the players. And you, 1A fans, are truly the best.
I have seen great student sections at games this year! Those teams with bands have a built-in student section. I have to say the Santa Anna Mountaineer band made me laugh. They play the Jeopardy song during timeouts. Very creative! I’ve also seen those teams without a band have crazy student sections that really get into the game. I can’t say I have a favorite, but did enjoy watching the McLean student section. They have a bass drum and crazy hats seem to be popular – different and fun! Another group that gets my attention are those managers on the sidelines. They fill up water bottles, they run after footballs and tees, and constantly carry towels to players who need them. They have clipboards and pencils and keep track of the yards and the tackles and turnovers and touchdowns. Cheerleaders yell, jump, and tumble. Themed pep rally's are planned and executed perfectly! They dance and play great music to get the team pumped up. Mascots interact with fans and players and make everyone smile with crazy antics. There is nothing better than a great mascot! Many students do different things to contribute to the team’s success. All come together to will their team to win.
So many townspeople have welcomed me this year. I try to spread the love around to many. And don’t despair… I like to drive and distance has never stopped me. I hope to see you all soon. What I love about small towns may be seen in the water tower with the town name and sometimes mascot plastered across the middle in big block letters. It’s finding the football field because the lights are shining and can be seen for miles. It’s the neat downtown area, sometimes paved with red bricks and littered with neat, old buildings. It’s also the school and how it is center-stage for most of the town’s activities. It’s the trucks backed up to the fence and the wood cooker at the concession stand grilling up burgers or hotdogs. It’s the specialty items at the concession stand! This year I’ve had homemade ice cream in Klondike and peanut butter and chocolate kiss cookies in Ira. I’ve had wonderful hot chocolate and coffee in McLean and Happy that makes me warm if only for a little bit. I’ve had homemade pizza in Jayton and a pulled pork burrito in Sands. I’ve talked to dozens of townspeople. Sometimes I overhear conversations before games. It seems like it’s always the same conversation… think the Mustangs will win? What do you think happened last week? We are going to win tonight! I don’t think the Kangaroos are as good as everyone says they are. I don’t intentionally eavesdrop. I just happen to observe the people around me. Makes me feel right at home. Do Not change a thing!
They play the games we all love to watch. Nerves. Determination. Persistence. Never-give-up attitudes. It’s the “I can do it, coach!” and the “what can I do to stop him?” that makes me smile. It’s the grunts and growls and the sweat flying through the air on a great tackle. It’s the fist in the ground when an assignment is missed. It’s a Bulldog helping a Cougar up off the turf. It’s the claps on the back, a pat to the helmet, or the sideways hand slap. It’s the hugs and prayers after the game. The competition. The emotion. The love of the game. And yes, superstitions like not washing the socks worn during the district championship game because washing them may mean a loss in the next round. Doesn’t matter if they are crunchy or stinky because those socks cannot be washed! Teamwork and perseverance and digging down deep to do the very best and sometimes coming up short. They lay it all on the line and contribute to the story.
All of these things and much more make 1A special. This is why I love it. This is why we all love it. It’s that feeling I’ve had in every town I’ve visited. I expect to feel it much more. Until I see you, make memories. Drink it all in. Feel the emotion and excitement. There’s nothing else quite like our beloved 1A. Enjoy the ride… It’s absolutely spectacular!