Cion Hicks casually strolled into the gym Wednesday.
She had come straight from Copperas Cove after competing in the District 12-5A track and field meet earlier in the day.
But she wasn't sweating, only smiling.
"You won, right?" I said as I approached her.
"Of course," she said with a slightly cocky smile and a wave of the hand.
And with that flip of the hand and bold behavior, it was easy to see that the attitude has changed at Shoemaker.
In one short year, the Grey Wolves have gone from dissolute to up and coming.
That was never more prevalent than Thursday when the Lady Grey Wolves won the district track title at Bulldawg Stadium in Copperas Cove.
A senior led the assault. LeKesha Jelks, a Texas A&M commit, won the 200-, 400- and 800-meter runs for Shoemaker. But the junior class provided the rest of the ammunition.
That is why there is more hope than ever at Shoemaker. And, yes, maybe they have even found a little bit of ego.
Sure, they will lose one of their most talented, Hailee Showers, when she transfers to Aldine Davis with her mother, girls basketball coach Shuana Showers, and father, James Showers, who was the Wolves' co-offensive coordinator.
But the list of returnees is still impressive.
It starts with running back and track star Johnny Jefferson, who won gold in the triple jump and silver in the 100-meter dash and has already committed to Baylor. Then there is Hicks, who won both the 12-5A discus and shot put titles; Aloysia Young, who won the long jump and Tearra Roberson, who won both the 100- and 300-meter hurdles.
Believe it or not, Shoemaker is loaded - especially on the girls side.
Despite that, the Harker Heights Lady Knights were the clear favorite coming into the 12-5A meet.
But they never saw Shoemaker coming.
"I am letting people know. Never underestimate Shoemaker, because you never know what will happen," Jelks said after winning her trio of gold medals.
Who wouldn't have underestimated the Grey Wolves before Thursday though?
Coming into the 2011 season, the football team had lost 22 games in a row. Both basketball teams had missed the playoffs. And the baseball, softball and volleyball teams simply were not competitive.
Honestly, some of these teams still aren't winning and they may not win next year either.
But change does not happen overnight. It takes time to build a program.
Athletic coordinator and head football coach Channon Hall, who was hired to replace longtime Shoemaker coach Ken Gray on July 1, laid an on-the-fly foundation in August and has been building ever since.
After ugly losses to start the season to Killeen, Waco University and Harker Heights, the Shoemaker football team lost three of its next four games by three points or less.
The Grey Wolves rallied from a 21-0 halftime deficit to Bryan only to come up less than a yard short of winning on a last-second play, falling 21-19. The next week, they led Belton 21-3 late in the third quarter and 21-14 late in the fourth before losing 23-21 on a safety with 1:10 left.
After a blowout loss at A&M Consolidated, the Grey Wolves let another late lead slip away in their 21-18 loss to Temple.
Finally, the breakthrough Hall had been waiting for came. His Grey Wolves jumped up on Ellison 20-0 in the first half and held on for a 32-24 win, breaking the losing streak at 31 games.
However, Hall still wasn't satisfied.
Nor should he have been.
"We're not going to focus on breaking the streak. That's over, because 1-9 ain't gonna get it done," Hall said after his Grey Wolves beat Ellison. "I'm not concerned about breaking the streak. Yeah, that was good and dandy for the community and these seniors, but the bottom line, I got hired to build a program. And winning one game, in my mind, is not building a program."
Hall knew then that the wounds of the streak and all of the past failures at Shoemaker still lingered in the air.
No success has ever been sustained at Shoemaker and the Grey Wolves were never seriously considered a threat to win a district title in any sport.
Now that the Lady Grey Wolves have won the district track title, that has all changed. All it took was one simple attitude adjustment.
And if you look closely you can it see every time they walk onto the gym floor, field or track.
Contact Nick Talbot at email@example.com or (254) 501-7569