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Tommy Varner is an inspiration to his team

OSD coach changed the culture and beat the odds
By Robert Przybylo, Staff Writer, Modified: December 25, 2010 at 4:18 pm •  Published: December 25, 2010

Though football wasn't his first love, Varner had a feeling this year's season had the potential to be something special.

OSD had an 11-man team until 1976 and won a national championship in 1952. After 1996, the school went 16 years without a program before an eight-man team was formed in 1992.

The team has had its fair share of success, but one thing it is still looking for is its own stadium.

“It would be great because more fans could come out and support us,” junior quarterback Colin Larkins said through an interpreter. “It would bring a lot of pride to the team and school.”

The team right now plays on just a pasture next to the school. There are a couple of old goal posts and few small sets of bleachers on either sideline. There are no lights, meaning no night games.

In order for the team to make the trip to Wisconsin, OSD had to raise $9,000. The team did anything possible. From selling raffle tickets to having bake sales and carwashes, they reached their goal.

The loss obviously wasn't what the team was hoping for, but it was an experience none of them will ever forget.

“I was so nervous at first,” Larkins said. “I had butterflies in my stomach. But when we arrived on the field, it was just about playing the game like we always do.”

Playing the game is a little bit different for the Indians because of the school's structure. OSD runs on a four-day school week. The kids are picked up from designated spots Sunday afternoon. Then they're dropped off back home Thursday afternoon. Players are from Wister, Loco, Lone Grove, Skiatook and Sulphur, among others.

Varner recently turned 40 and is also the athletic director. His family has built a home in Sulphur, and he doesn't plan on leaving anytime soon.

And with the success the program is having, he won't be going anywhere soon. OSD had more than 30 players out for football this year. The school ran out of uniforms and had to buy more.

“As long as there are kids around that want to play, I want to be there to help,” Varner said. “These kids are great, and I want to show them there is a world of opportunity out there for them.

“They may have not won the national championship, but they'll always be champions in my heart.”