By Dency McClure
We headed out on 1929 towards Lake Ivie, it’s an interesting drive with lots of curves and wildlife. We crossed the river, behind the damn, and saw two fawns standing in the river as the afternoon sun gleamed off the water. A photo in time captured in my mind’s eye.
Never fails that at some point in our trips to Panther Creek we begin to wonder if we passed it. Right about the time you think you need to turn around, the tall stadium lights, reminiscent of radio towers, hail your attention and you know you have arrived. Panther Creek is not a town but a school district. Not much is there but the school and a few teacher/employee homes.
One of the things that greets you, at the entrance, is the big signs proudly stating their football claims to fame. Multiple trips to state and deep play-off runs. The most interesting part of the Panther Creek heritage to me is the number of current quality Sixman coaches they have produced for the sport. Just to name some off the top of my head; Shannon Williams, Shay Avants, Austin Simpson. When a coach tells me he is from Panther Creek I know he is grounded in the game and tradition.
Point of interest Panther Creek does have a Fifty Yard Line it’s just the name of the concession stand. I’ve asked why it is named that of several area residents but know one seems to know.
We arrived and found all three coaches running plays right along with the boys. I love seeing this at practices. It tells you quickly how in touch the coaches are with the players and the game. If they are willing to play with the kids to teach them the kids know they aren’t just teaching at them.
While attending practice, a total of three vehicles past. You can hear traffic coming as their tires rolling on the pavement echoes from miles away. One was a truck pulling a small livestock trailer, the other a suburban, and the last a little car heavily loaded with luggage on top. Panther Creek is not a place you just happen by on a trip. You pretty much need to be going there or somewhere close by. On one side of the stadium is a plowed field and across the highway is where cattle graze amongst the mesquite brush.
I was a bit surprised when coach Norris instructed the boys to take their shoes off. It seemed the norm for them so I wondered what I was about to witness. They already knew what to do. They lined up on one end of the field and ran to the other, walked back and repeated over and over for a time. Michael questioned Coach Norris as to why barefoot. His response was that he wanted the boys to appreciate how nice their field is. It is definitely worthy of taking a barefoot trip across. It is thick, lush, green, sticker and fire ant free. Gorgeous by west Texas standards for sure. If only we could all have a yard like it.
We enjoyed a nice visit with the coaches during the last drill. We then headed out for Santa Anna DQ ice cream as they made their way to the weight room. Seems a bit unfair but that cotton candy blizzard was the bomb diggity.