I ain’t superstitious about the Hawks

I don’t have many superstitions, but of the few I do have, most involve football.

And with that, they only apply to the two teams I follow – the Iowa Park Hawks and Texas Tech Red Raiders.

I have specific rules for game day when Texas Tech plays, the most important being not posting anything on game day about said team because one time I did and they got the living crap beat out of them.

Of course, that was a long time ago and they have  been beaten more than once since then, but it was clearly not my fault since I put nothing on Facebook.

I haven’t had many superstitions involving the Iowa Park Hawks because I usually watch them in person and post them from the game while I am there,  but I wasn’t able to Friday night when they met up with Krum for their first district matchup.

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Since I wasn’t able to go to the game, I listened to it on the radio right up until the game tied in the fourth quarter.

After I accidentally kicked the dog out of spastic excitement, I decided to turn off the radio and monitor the rest of the game on Facebook.

For two solid hours I stared into the screen of my iPad watching Donna Williams’ generous and incredibly exciting updates on the game that went into triple overtime.

I heard a rumor that her iPhone exploded or something at the end of the game, but that is unconfirmed.

I almost posted a comment – something like “thank you for keeping us posted” or “GO HAWKS!”– under her post as I kept up, but the ghost of the Red Raiders crept into the room and told me I best not. So I just sat and argued with myself on whether or not hitting  the like button on every update was tantamount to ruining everything.

The game, as you will read in Kevin’s column and in the sports section,  ended in a 56-54 loss for our Hawks. And after I got my heart back into acceptable rhythm,  it didn’t really feel like a loss, but more a battle of worthy opponents.

Of course, it should be noted I was facing the battle with my cowardly face buried in an iPad because neither my heart nor my dog could take my involuntary reactions to football-induced excitement.

Still, I came out with this: Iowa Park has established itself as a force to be reckoned with and displayed heart –  and it wasn’t dependent upon any sort of luck, or anything to do with Facebook.

They are the real deal.

My new superstition is to go to as many games as I am able, including this Friday’s match-up in Vernon.

I will see you there….I’ll be the one in my lucky socks.

green sneakers

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Friday Night Lights & Texas Homecomings

It was brought to my attention this year while talking to a marketing rep out of Washington State that not everybody ‘gets’ homecoming and football in Texas. He needed something from me – specifically time on the phone – in the last two weeks, and I didn’t have it to give. When he didn’t understand the words “homecoming has thrown up all over my desk,” I asked him if he’d ever seen the show Friday Night Lights. 

He had.

Then I said, “so you understand that football is close to its own religion in Texas, right?”

“Riiiiggghhht,” he answered, but I could tell he still didn’t understand that preparing for homecoming week is like preparing for the Pope to pop into town for the weekend once a year every year.

What this market rep does know is that he won’t get to talk to me until next week because, Homecoming in Iowa Park.

I never really considered that everyone didn’t grow up with Homecoming and bon fires and parades because it’s all I’ve ever known. I suppose all small towns have multiple generations graduate from the schools and have Friday night community reunions at the stadium.

It’s really easy to take that for granted, I think. I totally forgave myself when I realized this was my 47th consecutive homecoming in Iowa Park, so it is kind of like breathing.

This year, I decided at the last minute to take pictures at the game and really pay attention like I had never seen it before. Of course, I got distracted … a lot … by talking to people I hadn’t seen in 35 years (Shout out to Richie Haschke and Jeff Dietrichson!) and of course, by the FFA Corn on the Cob Stand.

This is for anyone who has never lived this charming spectacle called homecoming, unique in its own ever-evolving tradition and what it looks like to each generation. Absorb the glory, y’all.

Last week, I wrote about what I anticipated the weekend would hold. I think I hit the nail on the head on several counts but nothing was better than when my mother said, “I have never seen so many fanny shorts.” Also, pickle pops were 2 for $1 at the concession stand.


A couple of disclaimers. All I had was my iPhone, so you get what you get. I played with filters. More accurately, I took liberties with those filters. I never said I was a photographer … enjoy.



The Town

Welcome to Iowa Park, Texas, Population 6,355.

Itinerant merchants should consider themselves warned.


Every year, Iowa Park has a Homecoming weekend in which reunions are held; alumni meet; and there are parades with fire trucks and floats, and bon fires and pep rallies, and a football game and a fabulous southern festival we Iowa Parkans call Whoop-T-Do. This is in a three-day period, and working at the newspaper it makes me tired and I need many naps.

The Crowd

The Homecoming Crowd (second disclaimer of the the post, and most likely not the last: Our stadium is not shaped like this. It seems that the iPhone panoramic shot can manipulate time and space) I have no idea what the capacity is, but rest assured it was full.


The Tradition

Robert Wilcox, Iowa Park Hawk announcer for more than 65 years and considered by many to be the cornerstone of Hawk tradition around these parts.

He has the best announcer’s voice, and has never missed a game.

This picture is what I meant when I was talking about generations. I know these fine people and that sweet baby boy is a third generation (maybe fourth) Hawk and the grandfather who is holding him played on the state champion football team the year my family moved to Iowa Park in 1969.


The Mum

I’m going to be blunt here, and most likely indelicate. But in the words of my grandmother, you couldn’t swing a dead cat without seeing  mums. I could have taken pictures of mums forever. (Disclaimer: The Iowa Park Hawks beat the Bobcats 37-24, and there was no pun intended. I swear.) I’m sure you’re going to see glimpses of  mums in pictures to come, but the one below is the only full-on mum picture I took, for a few reasons.

wes_edited-1Wes and Kelsie of Chicago came home for Wes’ 10th class reunion at IPHS, which is so cool. Kelsie, is from Lubbock and had never had a mum because it was a large school. This was Kelsie’s very first mum, and the fact that Wes is wearing his high school football t-shirt, and Kelsie is wearing his Mom’s football pin of him from high school dead center in the flower is freaking amazing and so creative. For those who don’t know about mums, here are few fun fact:

  • Names of you and your beloved are on the streamers.
  • There are bells. Lots of them. If you hate casinos because of the noise, you will be allergic to homecoming.
  • You will see all kinds of things on mums these days, including feathers, tiny little helmets, and my personal favorite and seen for the first time this year … lights. Like little LED lights. If I ever get to luge in my life, I want to do it with waterproof and shock-proof LED lighting, for effect.

(Yet another disclaimer. Wes is not only one of my very best friend’s son, he was also one of my son’s roommates at Texas Tech. Am I playing favoritism? Absolutely not. I don’t think so. I like to think of it as serendipity. I made a mental note to be on the lookout for interesting mums and I happened to run into them in the parking lot before the game. If that’s not serendipity, I don’t know what is. )

Pre-kickoff Star-Spangled Banner by the Iowa Park Mean Green Marching Machine.


This is the view of Hawk Stadium from the concession stand about 10 minutes before game time. The band plays their beautiful rendition of the National Anthem; folks stop what they’re doing and place the nachos they just purchased between their knees and place their hands over their hearts. The sun may not set in the West (just kidding, it will) but this will always be what the start of a home Hawk Football game looks like.

And while we’re on the subject . . .

The Food

Oh Lort. The food.

The concession stand in Iowa Park is run by the Iowa Park Band Boosters, and really has a big variety – the largest I’ve seen in all my years of attending games. However, Homecoming night, if you only want popcorn and a coke, it takes about 30 minutes and that is not during peak time.

Smart people plan ahead:


Corn on the Cob by the Iowa Park FFA … ’cause it’s roasted in the husk then dipped in butter. Also, it is ridiculously good. Like this one:


And, because in Texas one must season with wild abandon …


The Selfie

I don’t normally do selfies, but the irony in this did not escape me. I’m taking dinky pictures with my phone (and I will admit I shamed the family with my selfie stick), and this guy sitting next to me is one of the best photographers I know. Seriously. He’s my brother, Kevin, but he’s also one of the best photographers in the state of Texas (and has hardware to prove it). He and my dad before him (newspaper family thing) have walked these sidelines almost 50 years documenting the Hawks as a passion and vocation. In Iowa Park, the two of them would be considered a tradition.

 Kev also played football on this field when he went to IPHS.

(Disclaimer: I think he hated this)


My favorite picture of the night.

I call it young love meet homecoming meets cell phones.


The Game

I use to shoot football for the paper and know full well that getting a really good live action football shot with an iPhone is as likely as me eating a Brussels sprout. So please, if you’re expecting to be wowed by my mad action football photography skills, lower your standards.


This is really the best I could do, which was get a good, sharp picture of a duffel bag of footballs. Only it was accidental  the footballs alone turned out that good. I kind of was going for the many elements of a football game in one picture  –player action, crowd, referee, coach, trainer and bag of balls – proving you can never have too many.

Apparently everyone in the picture below was being relatively still since they don’t look like they’re in the witness protection program. Much. Some of them, anyway.


I took this picture of the referee coming out onto the field at the beginning of the third quarter. I felt of sudden pang of empathy for him, realizing that both sides equally cuss the referees. So, hats off to you guys….don’t know why you do it, but thanks. (Disclaimer: I’m not real sure that holding call in the first quarter was legit, but I am letting it go. )

refIt appears my iPhone chose to focus on the Hawk instead of the  man in stripes because he is moving waaay too fast for an iPhone to focus. I’m fine, I tell myself. It’s artsy.

No, it’s not.  But remember, I didn’t promise you a rose garden.

However, things are about to improve.

Because, yay touchdowns!


The Spirit

Although I was never a cheerleader after having early problems with confusing claps and stomps , I have mad respect for the these ladies and athletes. These are the 2016 Hawk Cheerleaders.


I got worried early in the night when the flag corp (students that run with flags that spell H-A-W-K-S after every touchdown), when the K and the S were missing. However, K and S found their way back and helped announce the last four touchdowns.


The band. This one took me back because until the end of my freshman year in high school I played bass drum. I only quit because I had to march sideways with it, and at 90 pounds, a strong wind could blow me and my bass drum into the visitor’s parking lot.

Truly, no homecoming or football game is complete without the band. Iowa Park’s Mean Green Marching Machine is as much a part of the tradition as the game.

bandThe Queen

What we’ve all been waiting for. The announcement of the Homecoming Queen. This year was incredibly special as Alex Van Natta was voted the 2016 Iowa Park High School Homecoming Queen.


This photo was provided by Iowa Park Leader photographer and this blogger’s brother, Kevin Hamilton. I told you he was good. Also, even my iPhone knew this moment was too special for it’s limited skills. Not one photo I took of Alex came out. Thanks Kevin; congratulations Alex; and I hope each of you enjoyed spending Homecoming in Iowa Park even it was through this blog.

One more, because

This was one of my more favorite shots because, the look on this little guy’s face says it all.



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And just like that, everything new is old again

Normally, Wednesdays at the Iowa Park Leader hold no happy surprises.

Our pressdays are normally full of deadline stress, malfunctioning toilets, the office dog throwing up or someone calling to get an ad in “tonight’s paper” five minutes after we sent the issue to the printer.

Not so this week. Wednesday we received the gift of an iPhone ear horn via the U.S. Postal service, and for about 30 minutes it felt like casual Friday for a change.

Let me re-state this. It is an ear horn for an iPhone.

{Boring housekeeping alert for those who have never heard of an ear horn} An ear horn (or ear trumpet) was widely used from about 1650 to the late 1800’s to amplify sound into the ear of a hard of hearing person, mostly because hearing aids had not been invented. This is what they looked like:


Two ladies accurately depicting the proper use of an ear horn (and the Playtex lift and separate bra)

Occasionally specialty advertising companies send us pens or letter openers in an attempt to get our business. But this one. . . this one was working to get the senior vote at the office. And it worked.

The Leader publisher opens all of the mail, and didn’t really know what to do with this gift from above, mostly because she doesn’t own an iPhone. But I do.

So while my husband was in the office, I attached the earhorn to my iPhone – which only works in speaker mode – and called him.

He thought my choice of test subjects was ridiculous because he was standing right in front of me, but he answered anyway and wouldn’t go into another room just so I could see how disgusted he was.

Even with him only four feet away, it was obvious that this thing was the real deal. It amplified the already grainy sound with even louder grainy sound.

In short, it sounded like he was right there with me, only grainier and more irritated than usual.

earhorn for iphones

And now, everything new is old again.

Ad unexpected bonus is that it’s astrobright green for those of us struggling with failing eyesight. This little detail cuts your chances of mistaking your ear horn for a denture holder.

With any luck, the company that markets this piece of  functional artwork will hire me to write it’s marketing material. Of course, I’ll take their call on  speaker phone.

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