When I planned my trip to Loraine, Texas, I was unsure of what to expect. It would be my first real dose of six-man football, and a sweet reminder of a true small town. Like, 650 people small town. It’s right off the highway, covers 1 square mile, and the school sits on a hill to the south, overlooking west Texas for miles.
I enjoyed practice, was so entertained being around the team (you guys are a riot), and Coach Hauk and his wife were so welcoming, hospitable, and it was clear to see they play a huge role in the success and happiness at Loraine.
When I spent the afternoon with the team on their homecoming, and I was truly moved. I arrived a little early for the pep rally, and the town was a ghost town. Not a 650 people type ghost town… These people had all left their homes to be somewhere. The gym.
I walked into Loraine’s new, beautiful school building with grandparents, infants, parents,everyone glittering in black and gold. And I must confess, I got a little emotional from there.
All students k-12 filled the gym, screaming and cheering in awe, as if they were in Times Square. For Loraine, nothing mattered that afternoon, except for love and football. And for a minute, that’s really all that mattered to me too.
Since it was homecoming, the parents were honored with the senior football players. They played the typical Boys of Fall song, noting each senior with their parents. I saw mother’s cry, hard, because life as she knew it in Loraine, Texas is about to change. 649 people. 648 people. 647. College is a few months away, and her boy won’t be out there on Friday night.
I do what I do because I genuinely love sports; but I love them a LOT for the emotion they bring. Here I am, trying to smile and casually wipe away my tears at someone’s homecoming pep rally before I speak in about 3 minutes in a town with 600 people. You could’ve handed me a ticket to anywhere that day, and I would’ve stayed right there in my seat. Memories.
If you’re not from Texas and you don’t understand it now, you should. Football is a staple to life for people here. The weeks drag on until Fridays, about noon, when it starts to get rowdy.
Six-man football is (entertaining and) great. You’ve got awesome athletes at your disposal, just not a ton of them at your disposal. So you get conditioned, and just run all over people. I got to hang with Patrick Tillis after he went off; 485 total yards in Loraine’s 72-66 win over Highland. He had nine touchdowns – rushed for five, threw three, returned a kick for one. And on the other side, 10 tackles and an interception.
Thank you Loraine, and thanks Patrick, for being shy in your interviews and not keeping quiet afterwards!