Honoring Athletic Achievement, Scholarship, Community Service and Character
Wylie High School Class of 1981
A few years back I was working in a homeless shelter which houses mostly Native Americans in Cortez, Colorado.
A Mountain-Ute named Monty Coyote asked me, “Where are you from?”
I said, “Mancos,” which is eighteen miles from Cortez.
Monty Coyote said, “No, where are you from?”
I replied, “Well, my mom and dad grew up in Kansas.”
Monty Coyote said, “No, you don’t understand me. This is where I’m from. This is the land and the people I grew up with. My father, my mother, and my grandparents have always been from here. Where are you from?”
After thinking for a little while I said, “Well, I’m from Wylie, Texas. Specifically, from a time and place from 1974 to 1981. Wylie is the place that shaped and formed me. That’s where I’m from.”
“It’s good to be from somewhere,” replied Monty Coyote.
I have fond memories of growing up in Wylie and will always carry within me a part of that place, time, and especially the spirit of the people I grew up with in Wylie.
In high school I played football and basketball and was fortunate to play on some good teams. Those playing days led to a full scholarship to play football at West Texas State University (now West Texas A&M). I always thought college would be bigger and better in sports, but it was not. I learned in college that the kinship I experienced at Wylie is what made playing worthwhile. I am forever thankful for that community.
After graduating from West Texas I wandered around to different jobs and places looking for something. Not surprisingly I ended up teaching secondary English (thank you Coach Terry) and coaching high school football (thank you Coach Shaffer) in a small Northwest Colorado town about the size of Wylie in 1980 but my new home town was a little bit colder in the winter and the people did not have southern drawls.
When I became the head football coach, I did not know what to do so I tried to do everything exactly like we did at Wylie. We ran the Houston Veer (33,34,35,36, 132, and 132 throwback) and the 4-3 defense with tough and pinch stunts. We ran the same punt and punt return plays. Everything was the same. After a few years we even broke the huddle with “AHMO.” In 1995 and 1996 we made it to the Colorado 2A State Championship game.
We lost both championship games which was certainly disappointing but the friendships and memories the team and the community shared along the way will always be special. To this day I enjoy getting that occasional phone call from a former player or student who just wants to check up and see how things are going.
After teaching and coaching for many years I left education to become a United Methodist minister. I now use a different vocabulary than I did as a coach (thank God for that) but in many ways I’m still developing and sharing the same values that I believe many coaches, teachers, and community members modeled for me as a young person growing up in Wylie. I am still part of a community that nurtures relationships and gets upset with one another and learns to forgive and move forward. I am very thankful for the people and the place where I grew up. Where I am from (Wylie, Texas 1974-1981) and all it represents is still where I live in Mancos, Colorado, 2015.
October 1, 2015
Family information: I am married to Jennifer Paschal who is a teacher and we have two kids. Our daughter Andie loves art and attends Hastings College in Nebraska and our son Ro loves to run and will probably wander around as much as he runs.