One Hundred Monkeys in Texas

August 29, 2008

The 300

Filed under: Athletics,High school — alancochrum @ 9:26 pm
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It’s not often that you get to be present for three milestones in your high school alma mater’s history.

In the fall of 1977, my junior year, Arlington’s Lamar High School had a pretty good football program that nevertheless had never made it to the district playoffs. Crosstown rival Sam Houston was ranked fourth in the state of Texas. The Lamar Vikings? Well, not exactly.

But something happened after an offensive shootout with district rival Haltom in which Lamar came off second-best. The following week, Lamar unexpectedly blitzed intracity rival Arlington High, 41-6. The week after that, the Vikings stunned Sam Houston’s Texans, 43-12.

In that fall of 1977, Lamar went to the high school football playoffs for the first time. From my spot in the band, I watched us take a last-minute victory over Fort Worth’s Arlington Heights High School to capture the bi-district crown.

(True, we did have our head handed to us in the regional game with Odessa Permian. But back then, Odessa Permian handed a lot of teams their heads.)

The fall of ’78, my senior year: The Vikings went 10-0 to take their first outright district championship. (The previous year, they had shared the actual title with Arlington but went to the playoffs because they’d defeated the Colts.)

Another bi-district game with Arlington Heights. This time we weren’t so fortunate: a 35-0 loss. But we’d still managed to get those district laurels.

And tonight: With a 41-30 pre-district win over Fossil Ridge High School, Lamar’s Eddy Peach — the only head football coach that the north Arlington high school has ever had — racked up his 300th win. Only a handful of Texas high school coaches can say the same.

And I was there. In the big scheme of things, it’s a small piece of history — but it’s history just the same.

July 22, 2008

Closing the books

Filed under: College,High school,Journalism,Writing — alancochrum @ 2:42 pm
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Theresa Cloer helped get me where I am today.

Not that I’m blaming her for that, you understand.

There I was, a junior at a suburban Texas high school with delusions of writerhood. I had (successfully) submitted some poetry to the school newspaper, the Scroll, and Cloer suggested that I join the staff of Quadrus, the barely-out-of-diapers campus literary publication.

I did, and then she suggested that I try out for the yearbook staff. So in the spring of the year, I received a nice little note — which I still have stashed away — that I would be part of the Valhalla staff the next fall. (In what a local talk-radio host used to call a Brush With Fame, also on that staff was a lass named Laura Lane, who eventually would become actress Lauren Lane of the TV show The Nanny.)

And then the blow fell: Our teacher-sponsor, whose students had affectionately dubbed her “Darth Cloer,” left for greener pastures. No sooner had I stepped through one journalistic door than my recruiter stepped out the other.

True, our new teacher soon arrived and guided her motley crew through the year. I went on to a journalism major, two-plus decades at a couple of newspapers and now other horizons. But it was an interesting prelude to a career.

I read in the July 21 Fort Worth Star-Telegram that the college yearbook is facing a cloudy future. Writer John Austin reports that the 2008 Aerie will be the last for the University of North Texas; the story is the same at Mississippi State and Purdue.

I must admit that I carry no particular torch for collegiate yearbooks. (I bought all of my high school annuals but none from my university.) But I think that Kansas State yearbook adviser Kathy Lawrence had a point in Austin’s story: “They’re losing the only written history of the year prepared by the students who lived it.”

P.S. — Dear Mrs. Cloer: I’m still glad that you recruited me.

July 16, 2008

One ring (from school and all)

Filed under: High school — alancochrum @ 7:06 am

To Mark Sewell, 1980 graduate of Union High School (perhaps of Tulsa, Okla.): A Texas journalist is looking for you.

No, no — it’s OK. Really.

My former colleague Bob Ray Sanders of the Star-Telegram is trying to locate the owner of a class ring that I found years ago in downtown Fort Worth. I had made some initial efforts to find the owner, but without success. Upon leaving the paper, I passed the ring to Bob Ray in hopes that he might be able to pursue the matter someday.

“Someday” turned out to be today, as he devoted a column on the op-ed page to the matter. So if the description at the beginning of this post fits you or someone you know, you know where to turn. (Let’s hope that Mr. Sewell Googles his name every now and then.)

Ironically, I no longer have my own high school ring. To the best of my knowledge, I lost it while working at a ride at Six Flags Over Texas, about a year after graduating from Lamar High School in Arlington.

Perhaps that was cosmic justice, though. My father doesn’t have his ring from Fort Worth’s Paschal High, either — because I lost it after he let me play with it when I was a kid.

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