Friday, August 28, 2009
I take no pleasure in saying I told you so.
But I told you so. Navasota kids have consistently achieved beyond expectations, and are fierce competitors against towns larger and better off. (See "Navasota is no better than its schools," in my Blog archive) As I have written before, every year, Navasota youth compete toe to toe with other districts and are known as serious competition at science fairs, history fairs, band competitions, swimming, football, basketball, and more, and they make us proud. No town does more for their kids, or sees more success out of them than we do. THAT is the truth about Navasota. The football game Thursday in Lufkin was a perfect illustration of this.
Navasota, a 3A school, faced 4A Henderson in what should have been an unfair mismatch. To adequately draw the comparison, Henderson’s band features a dozen or more tubas… Navasota has two. When the Henderson band steps onto the field, they fill half of it. They sport at least a dozen twirlers. It was a case of David vs. Goliath. And David killed the giant dead.
When the smoke had cleared, Navasota’s new starting quarterback, Kye Hildreth had dominated the game, throwing many yards of touchdown passes and running the keeper with some success, punting, and I think even running kick-off returns, leading his team to a stunning 47- 0 humiliation over the larger school. It has been said that Henderson’s starting QB was out. Be that as it may, Texas’ hero and first Governor, J. Pinckney Henderson, for whom the town is named, must have exhaled one last stale breath of disgust from under his marble monument, for the Henderson defensive line that gave up so much yardage.
Hildreth has so much talent it will be hard to cage or stop him. In fact I know his secret for success and the newspapers will never catch on to it. He is, plain and simple, a hog hunting fool. I mean that in a good way. His idea of fun and games is to chase down wild hogs, through the Navasota River bottom thickets, and wrestle and hog tie them. Any kid that can do that can whip his weight in pantywaist Hendersonians. And he can motivate his players as well, who have a team tradition, short though it may be, of stellar achievement. Thursday night they had few penalties and no turnovers, while Henderson suffered from those things. Navasota Defense played like it was a battle for the State championship, never even allowing their Henderson challengers into field goal range. We have some good football to enjoy this year, so don’t tell yourself that we lost all of our good players last year and expect a mediocre season.
And behind the scenes, there can be little doubt as we have watched the coaching staff, led by coach Lee Fedora, that these players have a formidable battery of coaches, that take no prisoners and have made winning an expectation. Navasota loves football, and it is getting the best our genetic pool can provide. And that appears to be a spirited, State contending organization. They have earned our congratulations and our support.
Here’s the bad news. We have only 3 Home Games this year. And for a town that has had to travel to several post-season games for the past couple of years, it means a lot of rubber on the road for some of us. Add to that recent Bonds and major improvements, that have cost the taxpayers significantly, to improve our sports facilities and attract more VISITORS, the average Navasota consumer is going to sense an unfair squeeze. I think many of us who argued against the new stadium, and I was one of them, are going to be tempted to bring out the big guns now, pointing once again to poor administrative management of our tax dollars. But let’s address these issues calmly. And as we do, let's do it while on the way to one of our exciting Navasota Rattler football games!
Here are my own talking points to add to the forum:
1) When the discussion of our artificial turf was so hot and heavy, many of us ran the numbers and figured the low maintenance turf would cost approximately seven thousand dollars per game, when it was used by our team around five or six times a year, and lasted ten years. That was steep, in any body's ledger. But no one really had any hard numbers, when we were trying to cook these figures up. Who knew how many games we might play at Home on any given year? It was only a guess. All we knew was that the turf was expensive, and probably more so than ten year's worth of maintenance on grass. Now with so few games, the cost per game would appear to go up, BUT we have to remember that we will probably make up some of those losses with other town’s post season games that will be played here, and even if the field is not used as much, it conversely won’t wear out as fast, and will last longer.
2) That does not help our gasoline bills this year, but perhaps it’s not as bad as it looks, as petroleum prices go back down after the vacation season is over. And I have to confess, much to my discredit, all of the serious concerns that I had before, about flooding, traffic and congestion at the new stadium were addressed and the facility has worked wonderfully. I stand corrected. (It won’t be the last time) And as frustrating as this year's football schedule is, we can only assume that school administrators would prefer to have more games in the new stadium if they could. We need to chalk it up to circumstances out of our control. And here is part ofthe reason;
3) The relentless hurricanes in the recent past, that first totally screwed up material costs and thus construction projections of the new facilities in the District, then added insult to injury, as they messed up game schedules last year and sabotaged the future fair division of Home vs. away games. Sometimes you can’t beat Mother Nature. You just do like farmers, and hope for a better year, and things to average out in the end.
4)Either way, the stadium is here, it is beautiful, it is an excellent sign of our growth and progress, and will bring us tons of positive public relations in the region. The construction of it was a argument some of us lost, and we need to put it behind, and not miss the exciting positive developments in our community, and we need to be there and enjoy our kids and their victories.
Anyone who attended the games during the past couple of years will agree that we have never felt so much town unity, enthusiasm and positive energy, that truly spills over into every avenue of our lives. Winners attract winners. Success breeds success. Positive energy cannot be purchased or taught. And we have enjoyed a boxcar load of it in the past two years. As I have noted before, Navasota is a culture on the rise. Nobody wrote a book about how to build a town, or its public facilities, in a way that did not cause political strife. If they did, we did not read it. There is no doubt that we have made a few mistakes, but overall, we have also made some strategic, pro-active moves which will pay big dividends in the near future if we nan only pull together and not self-destruct in the process.
I just want to say officially, as an artist and a man of cultural interests, that I could care less about football in general. I played a few downs of it, in uniform as a boy and decided that they were all crazy. I do not watch much of it on television, except to be nice. Like most Texans, I love the game at the High School level with unexplainable, primeval fascination. But to me, Pro Sports in general have gone to pot, and are not redeemable, and not a profession I would recommend to our youth. I still cherish my baseball cards, and my signed baseball by Nolie, and will always venerate Earl Campbell, but have come to believe that our over-emphasis on sports has corrupted public education, and has become a cumbersome tail that wags the dog. But this emphasis on sports, and especially football, is the accepted paradigm by all of you, who think that we need a plastic field so our boys can play on it a few times a year at whatever the cost. And this is my town, and I love these kids, and know that varsity football provides a critical nucleus of town pride, and an opportunty for not a few young musicians to cut their teeth, marching in the Rattler Band, and my kid was one of them, and we never missed a game.
I heard it said once, that anybody that can learn to play and march at the same time, can learn anything, and will take that multi-tasking skill and use it to be successful, and it is true, and I have seen it, in the life of my own flesh and blood, the first accomplished musician in either branch of our family. The value of this training should not be underestimated, and I am so proud of my kid, and all of yours, that I am willing to defer to wiser minds with different values than mine, about this whole sports controversy, and be there with my blue shirt on, every time I can.
BUT, I am devious in my compromise. I hope for and plan to encourage with equal zeal, the development of a full scale Industrial Arts program, that provides industrial training and meets the educational needs of a greater portion of our children. Now that we have winning Football well under way, and I am one of its biggest fans, we can get down to the business of preparing our youth for their REAL futures.
Is anybody with me?
I want to see our kids excelling in real job skills, like welding, carpentry, cosmetology, auto mechanics, drafting and computer graphics and other technological skills, at state level competitions, and they will be Rattlers too, and make us equally proud, and first and foremost, they will build our future. If we fail as parents and citizens to make our school curriculums relevant to our kid’s actual needs, we will only suffer for such short-sidedness. And once again, I will have to say I told you so. Don’t let that happen!
See you at the game!