By DAVID TEPERA | Posted: Tuesday, February 7, 2017
Recently, a former high school head football coach and good friend, Tom Williams, was laid to rest.
I was just 7 years old when my family moved to La Marque, Texas in 1968. My dad, Ray Tepera, was hired to coach football by the legendary Orville Etheredge. Coach Williams was one of the other coaches already on staff.
In 1970, La Marque consolidated the black school of Lincoln Eagles with the white school of La Marque Tigers to become the La Marque High School Cougars.
Those of you who remember, the years around the 1970s were very challenging in moving this country forward.
Coach Williams was handed the responsibility as head football coach to bring two communities together. This included not only players with two different backgrounds, but coaches as well.
I’ll let you in on a secret — Tom Williams was an amazing coach, mentor, leader and a friend to all.
How do I know? Because through all those years, I had the privilege of being a coach’s son. I was there almost every weekend when coaches were watching film and planning next game strategies. I was the ball boy at football games for many years. I heard all the pregame, halftime and postgame speeches. And yes, being a sneaky kid, I heard all the private conversations as well.
Coach Williams didn’t see black and white. He saw a bunch of teenage boys taking steps toward becoming men. Coach Williams told me that he believed football brought a brotherhood amongst his players. They all fought for victory as they leaned on each other in the trenches.
Once I became a man, I look back over the years with my dad and coach Williams. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that childhood experience made one of the biggest impacts in my life.
Once coach Williams and my dad had finally retired, coach would frequent my dad’s house each week. They maintained a close relationship to the end.
I would sit back and listen to these aged coaches reminisce about all the old football stories and incredible players during that special era.
For those of you who are still around, I want you to know that coach Williams remembered all of your names and truly loved each and every one of you.
Really, I could write a whole book about coach Tom Williams. I’m going to miss that old rascal and his infectious laugh. Thanks coach for helping this snotty little kid to become a compassionate man. I love you.