Boron Bobcats

I lived in the town of Boron from the day I was born until one month before my 16th birthday. My mom was married and the stepfather had a house in Ridgecrest, an hour away, so we had to move. I have lived in Ridgecrest the last 17.5 years, longer than I lived in Boron. However, when people ask me where I am from, my hometown, where I grew up…I tell them Boron. Don’t get me wrong, Boron isn’t a treasure. In fact, at the moment, I wouldn’t live there unless I absolutely had to. Just something about growing up in that tiny mining town of 2,000 people worms its way in to your psyche and you will forever be from there.

Growing up in Boron it is pretty much expected you will be a Boron Bobcat and play some sort of sport. If you are a boy it is pretty much a given you will play football. Not many of us didn’t. Boron was a football legacy town. My moms generation won all kinds of football championships, and the graduating classes of 94 through about 2000 were the sons of that generation. Those years were full of powerhouse football teams. My moms generation were all the sons and daughters of transplanted Texans and Oklahomans. When I went to school, many of my friends would go back to Texas and Oklahoma to visit grandparents. The town basically had a Varsity Blues/Friday Night Lights feel to it when I was in Jr. High and High School.

Coming home from my senior trip towards the last couple weeks of High School, the Burroughs High School bus stopped in Kramer Junction (just outside of Boron) for gas, snacks, and a pee break. I got off the bus and ran in to a few friends a had gone to high school with. We chatted for about five or ten minutes and then I got back on the bus. When I sat down I noticed that a bunch of the Burroughs football players were staring at me. I of course thought I was about to get my butt kicked. I ended up becoming a minor celebrity for the next hour on the drive home, just because one of my friends was the guy that almost broke the California Interscholastic Federations High School Football Interception Record. Boron football was known outside of Boron.

I was never able to play football like most of my friends. I was never an athletic kid and I grew up pretty poor, so my mom didn’t have money to put me in youth sports. I didn’t have a dad to teach me to play football like most of the other kids. So, I watched from the sidelines and ended up getting teased and bullied. Until I joined wrestling and most of the football team watched me pin a kid. That’s another story though.

These days Boron can barely field a football team. The town has shrunk and is more impoverished than ever, resulting in low school enrollment and attendance. They are  currently the smallest 11 man football team in the state. However, they just accomplished something huge; they won a national contest to go to the Super Bowl. Articles about the team going to this years Super Bowl have been written in various sources and far more eloquently than I can manages Here are two:

http://www.kibskbov.com/boron-football/

http://usatodayhss.com/2015/small-town-high-school-football-team-wins-nfl-contest-headed-to-super-bowl-xlix

Some  good videos:

http://www.bakersfieldnow.com/sports/hsfootball/Boron-Bobcats-could-go-to-the-Super-Bowl–284277651.html

http://theavtimes.com/2015/01/09/congratulations-to-the-boron-bobcats/

And finally an article that was written in a paper, that I can’t find online, except reprinted on a facebook page. I will copy and paste it here:

BORON HAS CAPTURED U.S.’s HEART
By Brian Golden, Antelope Valley Press

It’s simply the most famous bus ride in Boron history.

No, it’s not “Selma” in shoulder pads.

No schools are being desegregated.

No new employees are being militarily escorted to work at the Borax plant.

But make no mistake. The whole nation will be watching.

They’re the ones who demanded it.

Boron didn’t just win a national competition when its saga won the “Together We Make Football” contest on NFL.com in conjunction with Super Bowl XLIX a week from today in Glendale, Arizona.

It won a nation’s heart.

Truth is, everyone in Boron, and the rest of us in the Valley, could have stuffed the electronic ballot box 24/7, and it would have been fewer votes than could be cast on the westside of New York City, or in any ballot-stuffing operation in Chicago, or along the 610 Loop in Houston.

From the shores of New England to Puget Sound, from the frozen lakes of Minnesota to the Rio Grande River in south Texas, Americans of every background rallied to Boron’s cause.

Of course, the brilliant cinematography of NFL films played no small part.

The aerial shot of seemingly endless miles of scrub suddenly transforming into an emerald meadow of manhood was one of the most powerful visuals in America in 2014.

But Boron’s “Together We Make Football” mantra wasn’t as much a statement of where, or how, or why, as who.

It is who Boron is.

America met a people that has virtually none of the superficialities that allegedly confer sophistication on a community; no mall, no movie theater, no skateboard shop.

And it’s no big deal.

Maybe Boron clutched America’s imagination to its bosom like a football squeezed to his chest by a cannonballing Bobcats running back over the goal line, it was because the USA needed to know there are still places like Boron.

Places where the superficial, rightly, still defers to the sturdy. In privileged precincts across the fruited plain, they no doubt pity Boron for what it doesn’t have.

It feels so superior to what they really feel – envy for generations seeking excellence, not excuses.

Which brings us to the greatest irony of all on this Super Bowl week unlike any in the Valley’s history.

This week, it’s the effete, the privileged, the condescending quarters of the republic who truly DO envy Boron for something that it has.

Thanks to “Together We Make Football,” the Boron Bobcats make this the first Super Bowl with three teams in it.

Courtesy of the NFL, they’re being transported to the Phoenix area on a luxury bus and being put up in a five-star hotel for their Arizona stay.

They’ll meet both teams. They’ll meet NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. They’ll be stunned, absolutely stunned, by the people they’ve seen on television for years who will be lining up to meet them.

They’ll have an entire hour devoted to their story on national television Sunday.

Not because of a killing spree.

Not because of an alleged UFO encounter.

If football is America, and Boron is Football, Boron is America.
On what has long been described as America’s “Midwinter Fourth of July,” they may be the most Americana phenomenon of all in this celebration of America.

The late Gerald Small of Desert (1983-84 Miami Dolphins) and de-Shawn Shead of Highland (2013-14 Seattle Seahawks) are the Valley football sons ever to play on the field at the Super Bowl.

Next Sunday in University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, the Boron Bobcats will become the first Valley TEAM to walk on the field at the Super Bowl.

Don’t be surprised if Seattle Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll comes over to say hello.

He was the only one who knew that a rickety old school bus, not the luxury coachliner headed east this week, wound its lonely way west across the desert prairie to Isabella for a game against Kern Valley in September, 2008.

The stunned Bobcats had lost teammate Vinny Rodriguez to fatal head trauma the week before.

They voted to play the Kern Valley game to honor their fallen teammate.

The news got back to Carroll, then coaching the top-ranked USC Trojans, through a Valley Press story shown to him by one of his secretaries, who happened to live in Palmdale.

In the middle of nowhere, 185 miles north of Heritage Hall, Boron coach Todd Fink’s cellphone rang up in the front of the bus. He walked back to talk to his players a few minutes later.

“Do you know who that was?” Fink asked. “That was the coach of the No. 1-ranked team in College Football, Pete Carroll at USC, and he wanted you to know how proud he is of you, how much he admires you for honoring Vinny this way.”

So much has changed since 2008. Carroll can become just the seventh coach ever to win back-to-back Super Bowls.

This time, he’s not only the only one proud of that bus departing Boron.

And obviously, Boron’s not in the middle of nowhere anymore.

No longer is it a distant place on a map.

This week, it’s also a place in the heart.

AMERICA’S HEART.

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