ALICE, Texas — Shortly after the crack of midnight early Monday morning, the crowded conditions at the Alice indoor football facility belied a typical night in early August.
But with the excitement of family members, cheerleaders, the Alice police and others around the Coyotes’ football program, it was a time for a fresh beginning.
The long-awaited kickoff of 2021 practices started as Alice team members charged into the practice facility with more hoopla than they’ll have for any other workout this season.
“It’s like Christmas in August for all of us with the first day of practice,” Alice football coach and athletic director Kyle Atwood said. “It’s a great thing for the kids, our coaches, the program and the community to have it start like we did at our first practice.”
Even at the start of the work week, nearly 300 fans turned out to watch the Coyotes commence their 2021 fall practices with work at the school’s new indoor facility. Most were still there when the practice concluded after 1 a.m.
“A lot of these fans have to get up and go to work and start a long week,” Atwood said. “But it means a lot for our program and our kids to have them show up and support us early in the morning like this.”
The Coyotes season ended in 2020 with a Class 4A Division I area loss in the playoffs to Austin LBJ. That defeat and the loss of 15 graduating seniors had them ready to start the practice for the upcoming season as soon as possible.
With the pandemic costing them two scrimmages and four games in 2020, the opportunity for practice became something they couldn’t take for granted. And for Atwood and his program, it made them all that much more precious commodity for Atwood and his program as they missed it last year.
“Our community loves football and they couldn’t wait for the start,” Atwood said. “You could tell by the excitement in the kids as they were working that this was a big deal for him.”
Atwood has been holding his own pigskin midnight madness since beginning his high school head coaching career at San Angelo Grape Creek 10 years ago.
“It’s something that I’ve always liked to do,” Atwood said with a chuckle. “But I just turned 37. I don’t know how much longer we’ll keep doing this, I might get to be too old.”