Bastrop High School Football Team Presented with National Spirit of Sport Award
By Chris Schmidt, Communications Officer | Friday, May 25, 2012 10:05 AM
Athletic Director Dr. Mark Cousins (far right) presents the Spirit of Sport Award to the Bastrop High School football team.
Photo by Photo courtesy Donald R. Williams, Executive Director of Community Services/Communications for Bastrop ISD
The Bastrop High School football team was presented with the 2012 National Spirit of Sport Award for Section 6 of the National Federation of State High School Associaitons (NFHS) for their contributions to their community during one of the worst natural disaster in Texas state history.
The National High School Spirit of Sport Award was created by the NFHS to recognize those individuals who exemplify the ideals of the spirit of sport that represent the core mission of education-based athletics. UIL Director of Athletics Dr. Mark Cousins presented the award to head football coach Gerald Perry during a school board meeting on Tuesday, May 15.
Beginning on Sept. 4, 2011, Bastrop County was ravaged by the worst single wildfire ever recorded in the state of Texas. The wildfire burned more than 34,000 acres of land, destroyed more than 1,600 homes and claimed the lives of two people. With a population of 7,218, the city of Bastrop has 2,900 housing units. Along with the rest of the state, Bastrop County was in the midst of one of the worst droughts in history and heavy winds accelerated the movement of the fire.
The members of the Bastrop High School football team were not immune to the devastation. Four coaches and 11 players lost their homes in the fire. School and extracurricular activities were canceled, including the Friday night matchup between Bastrop and Austin Akins High School. Many of the evacuated residents, which included several coaches and players from the high school football team, were staying in community shelters uncertain if they would have a home to which to return.
Once the fire was contained, after more than a week of destruction, the recovery process began and members of the football team assisted in the recovery. ESPN.com profiled several players who had volunteered their time to work in shelters for those displaced by the fire.
The student-athletes stacked clothing, took donations and helped displaced families while they focused on the recovery efforts. Football eventually resumed on Sept. 15 – 11 days after the start of the wildfire. Gov. Rick Perry used that day’s game against San Marcos High School as a way to honor those who fought against the fire as well as bring healing to the residents of Bastrop with a return to normalcy and a distraction from the events that had rocked their world.
The Bastrop football team ran out onto the field with a banner that read, “Out of the ashes we rise.” Volunteer firefighters and emergency responders were honored during a halftime ceremony. And in what was truly an emotional day for all those involved, Bastrop High School claimed a 48-23 victory dedicated to the community of Bastrop.
The high school went on to win one more football game during the season. However, for a community rocked by tragedy and devastation, their team had offered them a chance to forget about the pain and to be proud of what they had accomplished as a community in the face of adversity.
The fire, which began on Sept. 4, 2011, was not declared fully extinguished until Oct. 10, 2011.
The NFHS awards eight sectional winners and one national winner of the National High School Spirit of Sport Award. The states in Section 6 are Texas, Arkansas, Colorado, New Mexico and Oklahoma.
Nominations for the award were generated through NFHS member state associations and reviewed by the NFHS Spirit of Sport Award Selection Committee composed of state association staff members.