Event ranks high on the cool meter
Over the past decade-plus, I’ve had a chance to cover some big games and some cool moments.
None ranks any higher than the event I attended Friday afternoon. It wasn’t highly publicized. It wasn’t covered by television or broadcast to the masses. But it was something I’ll never forget.
The boys soccer team at Santa Fe South High School received its championship rings.
First, a little background.
Santa Fe South is a charter school on the south side of Oklahoma City. Its student body is largely made up of the children of Mexican immigrants, sons and daughters of blue-collar workers. The school isn’t even a decade old, but already, it has become a pillar in one of the city’s most hard-scrabble areas.
Still, athletic success has been difficult to come by. The football team went several years without a victory. The girls basketball team once lost by 80-plus points.
The boys’ soccer team, though, has become something of a juggernaut. In 2006, it played for a state title, losing to Tulsa Cascia Hall and falling just short. The next two years, the Saints made the playoffs but failed to make the title game.
Then last spring, redemption. Santa Fe South capped a perfect season with a 2-1 victory against Cascia Hall in the Class 4A title game. It was the school’s first team state championship in any sport.
But even as the final seconds ticked away, fans storming the field and players taking a victory lap around the field, Santa Fe South coach Wes Furley had his mind elsewhere.
“My very first concern was, ‘Now, we’ve got to get these guys some rings,’” he said Friday.
Several weeks later, Furley sent an e-mail to a couple of folks, yours truly included. He knew that most of his players didn’t have the means to buy championship rings, and he didn’t have a booster club or a benefactor or anyone who could help. He was asking for help, anything that might make it possible to buy rings.
So, I decided to write a column about it. Those rings, I contended, were important not just so the players could wear them around but so that every kid at Santa Fe South could see them. Those rings were a testament to what the team had accomplished. They were a nod to what was possible. And maybe, just maybe, kids at the school would see that with enough work and dedication, anything was possible.
The column ran in the Tuesday, June 9 edition of The Oklahoman.
Before 9 o’clock that morning, Furley had received more than half a dozen calls from people who wanted to help purchase rings for the team.
One call came from Chip Fudge. The Oklahoma City real estate developer’s son, Banning, was a senior last year on Heritage Hall’s state championship football team.
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