Playing varsity football in high school is special for an athlete, especially in their senior year.
Some schools commemorate the occasion with family photos with the player in his uniform, but Killeen High is adding a new tradition this season — “Decals with Dads.”
Inspired by a high school in his hometown, Kangaroos head coach Neil Searcy decided to bring the idea to Killeen.
“I saw them do it a couple years ago and I thought, ‘That’s really neat,’” Searcy said. “We do senior pictures with the moms and I thought, ‘Well, we don’t do anything with the dads.’ so I decided to implement this and have something for the dads.
“So we had them come up and be able to place the decals on the helmets with their kids.”
Many fathers of Roo players took time off from work or made sure their schedules were clear in order to be there for this inaugural event.
And while it was advertised as a father-son bonding activity, it was open to all parents and parent figures of varsity team members.
Searcy knows in a community adjacent to Fort Hood, some of his players parents may be deployed, “so just to have (parent figures) up here, putting the decals on and just to have that moment is such a special thing.
“We try to create these special moments whenever we can because we don’t get this time back, especially for these seniors; its important.”
Other parents play both mom and dad, like senior defensive back Willie McGee’s mother, Pamela Mosley.
Mosley attended the event and was the one to place the decal on his helmet.
And while a part of her will physically be with McGee every time he takes the field this season, she said, “All of me is with him. He’s a good kid and he makes me proud.”
She also appreciated the extra preseason time with her son.
Not everyone was able to attend the event, but that didn’t stop coaches from stepping up so each varsity member got the experience of placing the decals on their helmets.
Coach Robert Bacon was “substitute dad” for senior offensive lineman Cesar Garibaybartolo and proudly posed for photos before guiding him through the process of placing the decal.
“That’s one thing about us as coaches; we play a lot of roles — we’re coach, we’re dad, we’re uncle, we’re a lot of things for them and we love doing that,” Searcy said.
After the success of the event, the Roos look forward to many more.
“We’ll do this every year,” said Searcy of the new tradition.