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The University of Texas at San Antonio Online Magazine

Institute of Texan Cultures

For the Love of the Game

When he was 13 years old, John Frederick stood 4’11” and realized football was nowhere in his future. But that didn’t stop him from finding a way to take part in the tradition, pageantry and the culture the game has created, both on and off the field.

He joined the band.

Reality sports documentary showcases inaugural season

The start of UTSA football is being chronicled in a reality sports documentary series airing on FOX Sports Southwest.

UTSA Football: The Birth of a Program premiered in May and will continue through October with six 30-minute episodes that follow the Roadrunners to their inaugural season opener on Sept. 3 against Northeastern (Okla.) State.

The series will reach more than 10 million cable and satellite TV homes in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana. In addition to FOX Sports Southwest, it also is airing on FOX Sports Houston and FOX Sports Oklahoma.

The shows offer an all-access look at how the UTSA football program was started from scratch two years ago by UTSA President Ricardo Romo and Athletics Director Lynn Hickey, the only female athletics director in Texas to oversee both men's and women's sports.

Camera crews began following head football Coach Larry Coker this spring as he readied the team for the inaugural season. The final episode will feature the Roadrunners' much-anticipated inaugural game at the Alamodome.

"Putting a football program together from scratch is a monumental task and I'm glad fans will have the opportunity to see everything that goes into it," Coker said.

To see the broadcast schedule, go to goutsa.com.

“Sometimes, playing in the band got in the way of watching the game,” said Frederick, now provost and vice president for academic affairs at UTSA. “If we happened to be playing a song and they resumed the game and our team made a big play, the song kind of got disorganized toward the end because of those of us who were watching the game.”

Frederick shares a common experience with other members of the UTSA faculty and staff, as well as legions of players, bandsmen, cheerleaders and fans who have taken to the field to cheer on a football team. These memories were captured in oral history interviews for a new exhibit at UTSA’s Institute of Texan Cultures, “Texas Football: In Their Words.”

Told from the perspectives of 10 Texans, the exhibit was designed to complement “Football: The Exhibit,” a traveling exhibit organized by the Arkansas Museum of Discovery, which studies the science behind the game. Both exhibits run from May 14 to Sept. 18.

“Texans do football better than anyone else on earth,” said Rhett Rushing, oral history program coordinator at the ITC and researcher for the new exhibit. “No one on earth invests as much of their spirit, energy and even self worth into football like Texans.”

Rushing laughed, recalling experiences of driving through small Texas towns abandoned on Friday nights and getting stuck behind convoys of busses and cars driving to rural football stadiums.

“Football creates community in Texas,” he said. “It brings people together in ways we cannot explain and don’t try to. It defines us as dreamers, as hard workers, as the best we can be.”

Robert Gracy, UTSA’s vice president for research, played halfback for McKinney High School, in the north Texas city of McKinney, in the 1950s. He said some of the skills he learned through football have helped him well past his high school days.

“You really appreciate people with different skills and abilities working together on any kind of project,” he said. “You gain a lot of appreciation for teamwork, cooperation and partnership.”

For more information about the two exhibits, call (210) 458-2300 or visit TexanCultures.com.

—James Benavides

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