By Dency McClure
I knew it was going to be a long day because I was going to cover not one but two scrimmages in two different directions from my home. Plus, I knew I wouldn’t see Michael, my husband, until late because he was going to cover yet another scrimmage when he left work. I would be heading to Blackwell and then Rochelle, and Michael would be heading to Santa Anna.
I headed out a little before 9:00AM to make the trip to Blackwell. I always enjoy going to Blackwell. The concession stand food is top notch with a serving system not matched by any restaurant. The facilities are excellent and the coaches are a blast. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it in time to catch the coaches enough ahead of time to get interviews but no worries, I’ll be crossing paths with them again this season.
I knew Coach Lowry had seen me. As I was focusing in on a shot of Water Valley’s huddle, he jumped out in front of my camera to clown around a bit. I should have kept shooting and captured him on film, but I put the camera down and laughed with him. In spending time with coaches over the years, you form relationships. I enjoy these relationships because it makes traveling to the small towns like going to see family.
It was hot but luckily there was a good wind. I was very pleased to see a new referee face in the group. We need Sixman referees so desperately, and a new face is a welcome sight. I should have asked her name but I didn’t. She was new and not afraid to ask questions of the experienced referees when she needed to. They were all kind to her and happy to answer her questions and offer friendly advice. I did get a bit of a chuckle at some of the legs of the referees that had obviously not seen the sun in a while. Several of their uniforms looked like they had been pulled from the back of the drawer and forced back into action. After the first wash of the season, they should be back to normal.
I enjoy scrimmages as they are a practice for everyone. For me, it's to get back to standing in the heat and to sharpen my timing for the shots. For referees, it's getting back into the mode and putting all the new rules into their calls. For players and coaches, it's putting all the skills taught at practices into play. For fans, it’s getting back into the excitement.
The Blackwell scrimmage was between Blackwell and Water Valley and lasted a good while. The coaches were running all the players through and taking time for teachable moments. The water boys were working hard to keep everyone hydrated. It’s interesting watching and hearing the different ways the coaches work with their players at scrimmages. They know it is an important time and one of the few opportunities to be on the field working with the players in a game type setting. I left Blackwell feeling that my first scrimmage of the season had been a good one.
After a quick lunch with Michael in Ballinger, I headed home and got ready to go again. This time I headed out to Rochelle. I always look forward to going to Rochelle. They have such a unique stadium filled with history. I love the old bell on the playground that often gets rung by kids playing during games. I love the giant trees that shade the cement and stone bleachers that are built into the side of the hill. They slowly bring shade and comfort to the field as well. And yes, I like to stand in the shade and take pictures on hot days. The fence along the field is the perfect height to rest your arms on and enjoy a close view of the game. I often enjoy visiting with people from many different towns at the Rochelle scrimmages.
When I arrived in Rochelle, I parked in front of the old stone fence that goes across the length of the front of the school and then hiked down amongst the gorgeous old oak trees to the stadium. Once there, I got a friendly welcome from Coach Corean. He and I taught together at Paint Rock, and he coached my youngest daughter to Regionals in tennis. He is the kind of coach that knows what the kids need; from a swift verbal kick to a hug. My daughter played over two hours in a regional doubles tennis match and lost by a hair. As soon as the match was over, he grabbed both girls at once and hugged them. That was exactly what they needed; not words, not silence, but a big ole bear hug.
I then made my way over to greet Coach Mata and got a big hug. FYI, I like coach hugs, even though they are often sweaty. I first met Coach Mata at a regional track meet during the shot put. He was there with a girl competing from Balmorhea. I have since covered many Balmorhea games and always enjoy a hug and a visit with Coach Mata. He is now in Bronte introducing them to the great game of Sixman football. I then made my way over to meet Coach Jackson from Lohn and Coach Edmondson from Brookesmith for the first time.
Lohn has exactly six players this year and one is a young lady named Taylor Bass. I got a quick interview with her after the game and enjoyed hearing her "why" for playing football. She is taking one for the team so they can have a team. Even with just six, Coach Jackson is determined they will be competitive. I have been covering Lohn for years and am glad to know they have a team. Every year it seems to be a struggle to pull a team together, but they always do. Over the years, I have seen several girls play at Lohn to round out the team. Many were good players and great tacklers.
I usually run into Amanda Howell on the sidelines in Rochelle. She is a Rochelle resident and works for the Brady Standard-Herald. We have developed a bit of a friendship over the years visiting on the sidelines. She has three boys. One I took pictures of playing high school ball a few years ago and now her little ones are big in Sixman pee wee and usually have a game of their own going on along the sidelines. It’s always nice to see her and catch up a bit.
The refs were running a bit late, so I was able to get a couple of coach interviews done before the fun started. Once the referees arrived, I was shocked and pleased to see the young lady I had seen earlier at the Blackwell scrimmage. I teased her a bit about going to the same places I did. She just smiled and chuckled. She’s going to be a great addition to the Sixman refs, I can tell.
I left Rochelle with a good feeling that the season is going to be fun . Great coaches, good kids, and friendly fans. I made it home through the deer in my little white Fiat to travel another day.
See you on the sidelines!