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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Navasota: Little things add up.

My wife says it’s the little things. She was not there standing in the rain at the football game last Friday night, but she was proven right, once again. The score seemed secondary to the object lessons being acted out at the Home of the Hearne Eagles. They were a cornucopia of subtle vignettes and little morality plays that added up to something big. By the way, the score was 27—0.

Kye Hildreath lead the Navasota Rattlers through their third win this season, with impressive poise and athleticism, that is a pleasure to behold. The Rattlers proved themselves to have very decent talent on the field. And I mean decent in every respect. It was raining on the opening kick-off and gradually it got a tiny bit harder as the game proceeded. The rain never slacked off. But Navasota continued to play fairly clean football, where penalties were almost a surprise.

But I’m not a sports reporter. I thought about writing about the devoted Navasota fans, who unlike the opposing team, came out in force and endured the rain to root for their kids. Given the circumstances, it was not unreasonable that we might have expected to see at least as many Hearne Eagle supporters in their own stadium as there were Rattler fans. As we arrived, and took in the two opposing bleachers, the Navasota side appeared to have the size and vigor of a Home team. There were a few splotches of humanity in the bleachers across the football field on the Hearne side, but it was a pretty dismal show of town enthusiasm. Although this was just a little thing, this turned out to be a very telling factor.

The bottom line was that Hearne needed a lot of things. As I gazed through the rain and the muddy, sloppy field, past the scrimmage to the other side, I thought about the ugly phrase that became popular in Navasota about eight years ago.

The “Negatories” had coined a stinging phrase back then designed to make my hair (what’s left of it) stand up on end; “Turn into Hearne.” They had heartily argued that right about now, Navasota would have turned into Hearne. They apparently looked into our future and saw degradation, humiliation, and collective depression. I remember when a spiritual leader here in town explained and defended this vision, and made me so mad… I decided to do what I could to avoid such idiocy and make sure that never happened.

We are still working on it, but looking across the field, I think we can safely say, without hesitancy, that Navasota will NEVER be Hearne. Navasota performed well in adverse circumstances, making first downs, touch downs and winning effortlessly. They suffered few penalties, compared to Hearne, who may have racked up the worst string of penalties during one series of downs ever witnessed in High School football history. Unsportsmanlike conduct, offensive pass interference, illegal men down field, and on and on, so that they were backed up from the Navasota 30 yard line to their own 30. It was the little things.

Everyone watched in amazement, as the Hearne players had a public meltdown that should rock their community leaders to their knees. They were not just losers, they were scoreless, sore losers, who got mad at the end and became the miserable pawns of some soaking wet referees who decided to get their own thirty pounds of flesh. Little things turned into big things. It was one of the worst spankings and public indictments of poor coaching I have ever seen.

No, Navasota will never be Hearne. We saw the two towns graphically compared on Friday night, and they are not even on our radar. It was a sad mismatch, and I won’t even go further with this roast by scrutinizing the Hearne band, UNH UNH UNH or the drill team, who bless their hearts, got out there in the mud and rain and shook their you know whats; The saddest, most hopeless half-time performance I have ever seen. Hearne needs… dare I say it? To be scooped up and disbanded and farmed out to healthy, prosperous communities that could rehabilitate them. But enough about Hearne.

Navasota? I love you guys. Not because you beat a town like that, but because you “played in the rain,” and in typical fashion, did not conjure up excuses for mediocrity. It was a game against the elements as much as against another team, and you guys did us proud; Our young team leader, Rory Gesch, our Interim Superintendant, out there with no rain coat, smiling like he was eating home-made vanilla ice cream. That was refreshing. Our boys waddling in from the field, covered in field slime, grinning that winner’s grin. Kye Hildreath picking up a fumbled hike and turning it into a first down. Watching a fabulous run to a touchdown sent back because of a comparatively rare penalty, and keeping their collective cool. The Rattler Band playing with heart like they were performing at Carnegie Hall, the director braving the elements with the same resolve as Coach Fedora. Once again, it’s the little things, which prove your character.

As I have said before, Navasota is a culture on the rise. And we have found our stride. The Negatories have forgotten whatever it was that made them think so negative, and right now we have the best administrators, teachers, coaches, players and community morale in the state. Little things have added up to big things. We have seen our battle-tested troops in action, and they can take the hill.

Not too long ago, when the City started the long overdue process of building our community confidence, some out-of-town experts were brought in to tell us what we should have already known; That we are a great little town with tons of potential. Each person at one seminar was asked to tell what attracted them to Navasota. At the very end, one sweet young thing got it right when she said, “It was the people.” She and her husband could have chosen anywhere, but chose to live here because of the people. They saw Navasota’s people as the town’s biggest asset.

I’m ashamed to say, even as a City Councilman, that was not my answer. But after Friday night, I have to agree with her, and whether or not she was there, the people did not let her down.

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