WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Hirschi parents and the Graham Independent School District Superintendent are speaking out following Friday night’s Hirschi versus Graham football game that quickly turned negative in the third quarter when a fight broke out and the game was suspended.
Both schools and administrations are dealing with the aftermath, but parents of Hirschi players say it’s what happened before these players even stepped foot on the field that they want to see be addressed and ultimately changed.
“My son just said he just wants to play ball. That’s the start and end of it. This is something that he loves, all the children, they all love it, and to think outside, of that they’ve gotta double think because of racial tension its unacceptable,” parent Antoinette said.
“Fundamentally, it was supposed to be a game. A game with a winner and a loser and we’re gonna move on and that’s where we’ve gotta get back to,” Graham ISD Superintendent Sonny Cruse said.
Friday night football reigns supreme in Texas. Folks travel miles away to see their favorite teams compete against one another, but it’s never a good sight when a game can turn into madness in a matter of seconds.
“I don’t expect my child to take a punch, I don’t expect him to throw a punch but he doesn’t have to take one, not on the football field,” parent Gwen Thomas said.
On Friday, the Hirschi Huskies traveled to Graham to play the Graham Steers. What should’ve just been another faceoff between the two teams, was already beginning to be tainted by a distinct and very hurtful choice of words.
“Extreme disappointment. I was standing at the pep rally for the game and someone walks up to me and shows me their phone of the post and I said, ‘forward that to me’, and you just shake your head in disbelief,” Cruse said.
At Monday night’s Hirschi Booster Club meeting, Gwen Thomas read one of the comments that was made on Dave Campbell’s Texas Football app, “plenty of bananas available for Hirschi monkeys tonight in g town. We don’t take apes, everyone lock up your cars and hide your kids. If this how you feel we don’t have to be there.”
Something no parent or player wants to see be said about anyone. That comment was made publically from an account by someone claiming to have been affiliated with the Graham Steers, though that hasn’t been confirmed.
The game though would still get played with an increase amount of tension that spilled over late in the third quarter when the brawl broke out.
Cruse says what has taken place is not a reflection of who they are.
“That’s the first initial reaction about why and who and this is ridiculous and it’s uncalled for, and so many levels of disgust. There’s no way to explain, it’s not acceptable period,” Cruse said.
But parents of Hirschi players say this kind of thing happens week after week with a long history.
“It’s just sad to see our kids in 2022 going through the same thing that our grandmothers went through. It’s just sad,” parent Jermaine Causey said.
“To the parents, I personally talked to a couple of parents Friday afternoon and I felt their hurt. I felt their pain through their voice and their fear for their kids, and I hate for any parent to feel that way,” Cruse said.
At the root of all this are the athletes who say they have to face this sad reality week after week. Seeing that racism is indeed alive and well.
“It’s scary for a parent and for the child. You don’t want your kids to ever be in a situation like that and I wasn’t at the game so I wasn’t there, and I’m my son’s Superman. So, I’m not there to help them if things get out of line. It makes you feel empty,” parent Tra Mackey said.
So where do we go from here? The players who took part in the on field altercation will find out their punishment in the coming weeks, as Graham continues to search for the person behind the username. But Hirschi parents want accountability.
“For our kids to go through what they went through Friday, that is really heartbreaking. Like, it’s scary because anything could’ve happened. Especially with how the world is going today, anything could’ve happened out there,” Causey said.
It’ll be a long road from here, but these parents hope this conversation keeps the wheels turning.
As both schools continue to navigate this, the WFISD Athletic Director says the district executive committee will meet to see which team gets the win or if both will forefiet.
Hirschi parents say they’ll see what steps they have to take to possibly not have to play Graham ever again.