By Darrell Royal

royalDean Wild coached football in my hometown of Hollis, Oklahoma. But he was much more than a coach to me. In fact, in many ways, he was like a compass.

In 1938 my dad loaded up the family in our old truck, and we left the Oklahoma Dustbowl for California. But I never took to living in California and was pretty homesick for Hollis from the beginning. The folks out there made fun of the way I talked. They called me “Okie” (and they didn’t mean it as a compliment).

Worst of all, the local football coach wouldn’t even let me try out for the football team because he said I didn’t weigh enough.

Then one day, out of the blue, I got a letter from Coach Wild. He told me if I came home to Hollis and played football for him, he’d see to it that I had a job and a free lunch every day. It was just what I wanted to hear. And I didn’t waste any time hitchhiking back to Hollis where, true to his word, Coach Wild had a job and a position on the team waiting for me.

I’ve been blessed with more than my share of “somebodies”. I sure didn’t do it alone. But I’ve often wondered what might have become of me if Coach Wild hadn’t taken the time to write a homesick boy and point him back home.

Hollis Tigers,1938. Coach Wild is on the far right, next to #80. I’m the kid on the ground with the ball.

Hollis Tigers,1938. Coach Wild is on the far right, next to #80. I’m the kid on the ground with the ball.

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