By Dency McClure
This time the trip was a short one. I actually looked it up on google maps just for kicks. It estimated the trip to take two minutes by vehicle and 14 minutes if walking. Not sure how they calculate the walking time because people of all different ages, sizes, and physical fitness have to be included in that. But rest assured we drove, and it was a very quick trip down the bumpy, dusty roads to the Paint Rock football field.
We parked under my favorite tree on campus near the playground. I taught Pre-K at Paint Rock for many years. When I would go up to work on my classroom in the summers, I liked to park under that tree for shade to keep the car cool, and it was close to my classroom. I always enjoyed the kids. My girls use to tease me that my Pre-K kids were my best friends. My youngest daughter told me that I never had to worry about people thinking I didn’t treat all the kids on campus fairly because I treated them all like they were mine.
Paint Rock has lots of transfers and when our youngest was in high school, we did our best to make the kids welcome in our home. I wanted them to have a place to go between school and game time etc. I never knew when I would come in from work on Fridays who was in the shower or whose clothes were in the wash. We loved every minute of it, and the Paint Rock kids are the best. When they left, you couldn’t even tell they had been there because they always picked up after themselves. Our youngest has since graduated and our home is now quiet on Fridays.
Paint Rock has made some improvements to the campus grounds in the year I have been away. They have done some maintenance to the playground and have completely redone the football field itself. The town is very proud of the new green field. It took the mayor, city council, the water department, and the head coach all putting their heads together to figure out how to supply the water needed to water when the sod was first put down. Dedicated employees at the water department and the school had to work together to make it happen. It took the town as a whole to keep it alive when a water pipe broke. Water had to be hauled in tanks to the field and towns people had to stand in the heat with hoses. The field is a symbol of the hard work and pride of the community.
As we approached the field, it almost looked like turf. As I got closer, I could tell it was beautiful, thick lush green grass. I walked through the field gate onto the nicest grass field I’ve been on this season. This is where the sports photography started for me... right here on these sidelines. Let me tell you what the field used to be like: grass burs, goat heads, fire ants, holes, hard as a rock, cracks, dirt with lots of weeds, and a patch of grass here and there. We called it the secret weapon as our boys practiced on it and new its wrath. Some used to tell me they would tackle so the other team would land in a fire ant den. I learned quick if your foot hit soft dirt you best move fast and do the ant dance. But those rough and tough days are a thing of the past as I stand in what is now the castle of grass fields.
Since Michael doesn’t broadcast scrimmages, he quickly got pulled into the chain gang for the night. He is one of those people that never sits and watches. He always wants to be in the thick of it. So running chains and staring into the sun all evening was right up his alley. I have to admit when he ends up on the field with me, it messes up my groove. I’m not used to it so I trip over him or he gets in my shot etc. I love him dearly, but the sidelines are my game not his. He told me once where I needed to be to get a great shot. In case you didn’t catch the “once” it’s there. All jokes aside we have been married for 24 years and make a great team.
It was super weird seeing Coach Shannon Williams in red. I covered him at Zephyr for years and well, red is just not his natural color in my thinking. It’s a beautiful, bright red and I must say, it was exciting to see Leakey in their first few weeks of Sixman. The kids seemed to be taking to the game and liking it. Coach Williams is doing a great job teaching them the Sixman ways and by the end of the game, seeing him in red was starting to grow on me. For their second scrimmage in Sixman, they are looking good. We may all be surprised by this first year team when they get a few games under their belts.
Paint Rock is looking good this year. They are making a better team than I have seen in a while. Coach Egan is enjoying working with the boys and instilling pride along with Coach Gibson and new Coach Carson. Paint Rock is lucky to have had Coach Gibson; he has been a consistent mentor in the boys lives for years. Hopefully once the season gets going, they can continue to do well on the field.
I got to smell burgers cooking along with fresh cut homemade fries. The cross country team was in charge of the concession stand. If the groups that follow them do as good of a job, it will be a great place to eat all season. Coach Pyburn always does great with the kids and his expectations are high. It shows in his multiple trips to state in track and cross country.
I enjoyed visiting with friends along the fence during the game. One has been a stand out fence hanger. He has been there longer than I have been taking photos. Arnulfo Campos, Jr. I call him Arnold like most people do. I have been visiting with him for years on the sidelines and had both of his boys in my pre-k class. I told him I needed a quote for my article. He told me he would give me not one but two; both from Coach Boyd, a legend around these parts. The first, “Go to work, go to work, go to work!” That one is so famous we put it on a spirit shirt one year. I may still have it in my closet. The second one, also from Coach Boyd, “Head on a Swivel.” Arnold explained to me that was to remind them to not get focused on just one player but to always look for the ball and at what was happening on the field. Both great quotes.
After the game, Michael got an interview with Coach Williams and we enjoyed visiting with him and the other coaches from Leakey about their new home. They all are settling in. Best of luck to them and the Leakey boys in their first year. Sixman is definitely a different sport and culture.
After catching up with some friends we ended the evening at what we call a porch party in Paint Rock. Some of our friends live in a historic old home with a grandiose wood wrap around covered porch. We enjoy many evenings there when the weather is good. Sitting and rocking away the day’s worries as the sun goes down and the evening breeze keeps us cool and takes away our cares. Just something about a porch party to perfectly end a day.
See you on the Sidelines!