I must confess. I’ve wanted to see Balmorhea play all season. When I saw they would play in Klondike, my mind was made up. I would be there. With bells on.
What’s so special about Balmorhea? Let’s start with their head coach, Vance Jones. He’s been in the coaching business for a very long time, but more importantly, I have heard endless stories about his love of the game and especially for his players. I had to meet him.
I finally got that chance last night. It was definitely an honor. I introduced myself and shook his hand. He greeted me with a great big smile and welcomed me like he had known me for a long time. We talked about the Balmorhea area, the weather, and finally about the Balmorhea Bears. The pride in his voice and the look in his eyes when he looked over at his players proved all the stories were true.
He also has an underlying level of grit. As we were talking about last week’s game against Garden City, he said that when the Bears let the Bearkats in the game, he told them, “If you think you’re so good, then go out there and prove it.” The bears responded and did just that.
By the time we finished our conversation, I wanted to hug him. Maybe that’s a female thing, but he’s just the type of person that makes you feel happy when you talk to him.
I was pretty focused on Balmorhea, but have been watching the Klondike Cougars scores since August. They seemed to be doing some pretty good things on the field. I went in search of their coach. Dalton DeGraffenreid landed the Klondike position just this year. He’s a young guy with a lot of energy. He grabbed my hand and welcomed me to Klondike. He was very personable! He had good things to say about his players and the future of the program. I enjoyed our conversation and wished him luck.
I came away from the game feeling grateful for having met Coach Jones, the legend, and feeling very optimistic about the Cougar’s future with Coach DeGraffenreid. I also left with a ringing sound in my ears from the extremely loud Balmorhea horn!
Some observations from my trip to Klondike: