Today, the Brock Eagles won the 3A Division I Championship in just their second season of varsity football, knocking off 3-time champion Cameron Yoe, 43-33. How Brock went from no program to a Texas Title so quickly must be a great story, one I’d love to learn.
But, the details of why Brock started a football program in the first place made me think.
Brock has long been a Texas power in both boys’ and girls’ basketball. Many in the town were rightfully proud of the basketball success and content on continuing without football. For years, others had fought to bring football to Brock. Eventually the football crowd won out. Over 100,000 dollars was raised, a field was build and, three years ago, the Eagles first took the field.
The coach was asked why it was important to so many that football come to Brock, why not just continue focusing on basketball? His answer was simple but went straight to the heart of why high school football is the greatest game in the world.
He said, “Not everyone can play basketball.”
In Big and Bright, I wrote about places like Brock, small town schools with nearly 100% participation. I think I well described the flavor of the game in these communities, but somehow I overlooked one special feature of football.
It isn’t just that many do play, football is the only sport everyone can play.
I know about this personally. Growing up, I was a marginal baseball player. After being cut by the JV team my freshman year, I barely made the roster as a sophomore. Had I committed, I might have made the varsity as an upper-classman… or I may have been sent home. Basketball was out of the question for me. I had a decent work ethic and some toughness, but wasn’t a natural athlete. Luckily, I found football.
Football, alone among team sports, does not limit roster size. Everyone is welcome to come out and stay out, as long as they make grades and keep showing up. Football needs hard-working, tough kids, even those with no talent. With multiple, specific skill sets, there are positions for everyone. If a kid has guts and is willing to work hard he can overcome athletic limitations and be a football player. Even those who have NO skill (There always are a few) are welcome to participate. They may never see the field, but are usually respected. Perseverance is appreciated by the more talented teammates and everyone benefits from the games’ lessons, regardless of ability.
I’m a rare coach who isn’t nuts about the movie Rudy. It’s a good film, but I don’t find the story very remarkable. What happened at Notre Dame is true, but there’s a ‘Rudy’ everywhere I’ve been. ‘Rudy’s’ are a dime a dozen in football. If Rudy played basketball or baseball, he would have been cut.
As for me, I never had to worry about the ax in football. I was welcome to be part of the team and learn the game. As an underclassman, I did little but earn respect, but eventually became a decent pulling guard my final season. My football success was modest, but it couldn’t have been achieved in any other sport.
So, congratulations to the Brock Eagles, but especially to the non-athletes. Many were undoubtedly important parts of the program. Some played as linemen and filled out special teams. Others gave good scout looks during practice, helping the team prepare. Still others, probably helped by providing more talented teammates with examples of commitment, despite knowing they’d never be stars.
What a wonderful gift the football boosters gave so many students, kids who couldn’t have participated in other sports. Bringing football to Brock gave many kids the opportunity to be champions, instead of just cheering from the stands.