In the 1930's the New York Yankees won the World Series five times, Uruguay won the first FIFA World Cup, and the first Masters golf tournament was won by Horton Smith at Augusta National. In Bluff Dale, Texas, however, sports were becoming obsolete.
Bluff Dale Independent School District abandoned its six-man football program in the mid 1930's.
In September, Bluff Dale students marched back onto the field for the Bobcats' first game in over 70 years.
Bluff Dale eliminated the program in the 30's due to a lack of interest, but when students started leaving BISD because of its lack of athletic programs, the school board decided to reinstate it.
“Community involvement was a big part in our decision to bring the program back,” said Ben Chaplin, BISD Superintendent. “Also to keep our kids - we were losing our kids to other schools for athletic reasons. We brought in football and also volleyball. Since then our enrollment has gone from the 70's to the mid 90's.”
The discussions to reinstate the program began in December of last year and on September 13th, the Bobcats played their first game against Gordon.
“It's good for the community, it's great for the kids,” said Coach Scott Wells. “We've had big showings at every game - the community is very involved.”
Coach Wells took over as coach of the Bobcats after eight seasons with area opponent Morgan Mill.
After a seventy-year layoff, the Bobcats will have to wait at least one more year to fully experience a home-field advantage. The entire 2007 season is compiled of road games, but next year the program will move into their home away from home.
“We don't have a stadium at this time,” said Chaplin. “We have a full traveling schedule, but Morgan Mill has offered their stadium for us next year as our home stadium.”
The old saying is “Rome wasn't built in a day,” and neither was the Bluff Dale football program. However, the team is making progress. Before last Friday's game against Moran, the Bobcats had lost two games but were able to pull out one victory.
“It's going to take time,” said Wells. “Once the kids learn the fundamentals and we can get them started, it will just take time.”
Bluff Dale players may still be waiting on a practice field, but Chaplin and the parents are exited about the program.
“Parents are really excited,” said Chaplin. “Parents love to see their kids do things that are successful.”
Chaplin was unaware of the exact budget given to the new program, but is confident that if the kids are successful both on and off the field, then it will be worth any amount.
“It's an investment,” said Chaplin. “It's an investment in the kids. If we can get kids here and educate them and provide a service that keeps them interested in the school and hopefully play some part in the classroom, then it's worth any money invested.”
The Bobcats will suit up for their fifth game of the season on Thursday when they travel to Morgan Mill.
Nathan Bural is a member of the sports staff at the Empire-Tribune. He can be reached at (254) 965-3124, ext. 241.