Texas Wesleyan holds first football practice in 75 years

75 years ago, the Texas Wesleyan football program decided -- as a group -- to enlist, and fight in World War II, after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Since then, the school has gone without a football program.

Not anymore.

"The reason I'm at this school is because of the football program," said quarterback Erik Richards. "I wanted to be a part of the first class to bring football back to Wesleyan. Who gets that chance that they can come do that at a school -- bring football back that hasn't been here since World War II."

Where Texas Wesleyan is practicing is less than inspiring -- on the mall out front of the library in the middle of campus.  There are sewer grates in the middle of the field, and a cone marking a hole in the ground, so that no one busts an ankle.  It looks more like a pop warner practice field, than it does a collegiate one. But you have to start somewhere.

"They have to be a special kind of kid to be a part of this," head coach Joe Prud'homme said.  "So many of them would be above this in their minds. But the way I look at it -- when you have a humble beginning, it builds to something great at the end."

"Well, it's different," Richards said, "but it's been so long that this school hasn't had a football program. So we're starting at the bottom."

There are plans in place for facilities in the future. And they have the buzz necessary to support those plans.

"People are coming up to me, saying "Hey coach! So glad the program's coming back'. I'm like, 'I don't even know who they are'. But they say "well, I'm Wesleyan '98, I'm Wesleyan 2000, I'm Wesleyan '78.  There's a real buzz about [the program]."

And the parents and grandparents were out in full force, for practice number 1, looking forward to the future of Wesleyan football.

"We're just real thrilled, and we're looking forward to next year, and for them to start playing," said Judy Conover, a grandmother of one of the players.

"To start this program, and culminate the culture -- I think that's a huge opportunity for every one of these boys, and something that they'll remember forever," said Jody Reed, a father of one of the players.

It's a humble start -- but then, so was their reason to stop playing, 75 years ago.

 

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