Win or lose, the football team always had a late dinner after an away game. When the team traveled out of town, they did not have time or want to eat before the game so the coaches would arrange for dinner at a local steakhouse after the game.
Growing up as the daughter of a Texas high school head football coach, I remember having Friday night dinners with the football team after an away game. Following the game, we would travel to the local steakhouse where the coaches had arranged for however many meals were needed to serve the players, trainers, coaches and coaches’ families. Later, after we moved to a bigger city, the athletic trainer would make that call.
My daddy, Coach Bernie Hagins is a 1955 graduate of Snyder High School, where he was the star quarterback. He received a scholarship to play at San Angelo College (now Angelo State University) where he played quarterback and Spike Dykes played center. They both transferred to Stephen F Austin College. After a short stint serving in the U.S. Army he came back to SFA where he met and married my mother Lois Presswood. They both finished their bachelor’s degree at SFA and took summer school classes to get their master’s degrees. My mother became an elementary teacher.
Dad’s first coaching job was in Diboll. Then he coached under his good friend Spike Dykes in Coahoma; when Dykes moved on, Daddy became head coach/athletic director. From there, our family moved to the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo school district located in the Valley. From there, we went to Bishop, Lockhart and then Ballinger, where Daddy was head coach/athletic director at all these high schools.
By this time, the Hagins family consisted of my mom, dad, my older brother Tracy and me. Looking ahead, my parents wanted my brother and me to have the opportunity of attending and graduating from one high school. When that opportunity came, Daddy stepped down from being head coach at Ballinger High School to become an assistant coach at Midland High School. That Fall my brother was a high school freshman. Although Daddy retired as the football offensive coordinator at Midland High School in 1994, as a retiree hire, he coached the girls golf team until 2001.
Those late Friday night football dinners were either joyful or very quiet, but we always ate the same thing. For the longest time I thought the only way to eat French fries was with gravy because the chicken fried steak and fries were smothered in gravy. Yum! We would also have a salad with French dressing, and watered-down iced tea because it had been sitting out for so long. There was also a roll. I do not remember ever having dessert. That would have been a luxury.
We would wait for the boys and coaches to arrive along with other coaches’ families and the parents of the players. Sometimes the cheerleaders would join us but not often. The other families would always get seated outside of the area saved for the players and coaches, but Daddy always made sure my mom, brother and I had a place near him along with the other coaches and their families. We were usually the last served which was fine with me; this gave me the opportunity to watch the players and listen to them talk about the game. As a young girl, those boys were my heroes; later, the objects of young crushes! When the players were finished eating, they would load up on the buses for the ride home.
Win or lose, as head coach Daddy expected a respectful attitude. When the team won, everyone was happy, and it was a joyful occasion – but not boisterous. When the team lost, it was very, very quiet.
Sometimes when the team was playing at home, someone – usually a coach or some of the more popular players’ families – would host an after-game party. These parties occurred more in the big city, but we had a few in the smaller towns as well.
Steakhouses like K-Bob’s, the 50-yard Line and Zentner’s Daughter were all places I remember eating dinner as a coach’s daughter. Most of these places are no longer in business but I’m fairly certain football teams still have dinner after their away games.
It has been too many years since I have had dinner with a football team, but the memories will always be with me. Those late-night Friday dinners were special times to be with the team and help either celebrate our win or cry for our loss. My parents are now fully retired and reside in Glen Rose. To this day, I still see players who played for my dad; the first thing they ask about is how my dad is doing.