By Art Garcia
Photos by Ralph Lauer
Meet four women who play a big part in ‘protecting the tradition.’
They don’t wear cleats or put their physical selves on the line every Friday night in the fall. Their hearts? Well, that’s another matter. Being a Dragon football mom isn’t easy when it comes to emotional well-being, but the rewards far outweigh whatever the scoreboard reads when the clock strikes 00:00. Tina Springer, Tonya Meyer, Tina Howell and Kari Williams give us a glimpse of life from their seats.
What is it like having a son go through such a storied program?
Springer Since my husband, David, graduated from Carroll in ’84, we have seen the exciting ride of the Dragon tradition. My son, Dillon [third child to go through Carroll schools], is a senior this year and has been a Dragon football player every year since kindergarten. I can remember when Dillon was 5 years old, he loved watching the “big” Dragons play and was so mesmerized with them. At that time, he watched Riley Dodge play as a senior in the state championship game. And now Dillon as a senior, he is playing for Coach Dodge. Being a Dragon means more than just being a mascot or being on a team, because you are a Dragon from day one of kindergarten through your senior year. It truly means being a part of a football family.
Howell It has been great to watch Brandon put in the work to be successful each year. You hear about how much time and hard work is required to make this program so successful but when you see your son day in and out going to practices, working out, watching film, etc., not until then do you truly understand what all of these players do to create such a great team. All of this is on top of their classroom work that they do to maintain the high academic standards.
Williams It’s an honor to have a son on the Dragon football team. This is my third son to go through the program and I couldn’t be prouder. We have awesome coaches who not only coach the boys at an incredible level, but also make sure they learn valuable lessons in character, leadership and more. I’m so proud to be a Dragon.
What are game days like for you, before, during and after the games?
Howell If it is a home game, it starts with the pep rally at the senior high. After that, we have a moms breakfast, either hosted by a mom at her home or at a local restaurant. Some of us transition into a lunch to discuss the upcoming game. We have “clap-out” for the players as they load the bus to head to the game. This is where we cheer the boys to victory as they load the bus. During the game, it’s crazy. We get in the stands early so we can see the players warm up and get ready for kickoff. Once the game starts, we cheer the entire game. We make lots of noise with our shakers, clappers and our yells. It is so fun to watch the boys playing their hearts out for the game that they love. We are all celebrating with each other all the great plays all the boys are making. Once the game is over, we all head to the school to clap them back in from the game as they exit the bus into the field house.
What are your proudest moments with your sons, on and off the field?
Meyer Wills was named the Dragon Pride Player of the Game after the Pink Out game in 2017 … proud Mom moment. He works just as hard off the field. He’s an A-B student, a member of Young Men’s Service League and Play It Forward Southlake. I’m equally as proud of his compassionate heart and the young man he’s become.
Howell When I see all the hard work he has put into this sport to make him successful on the field and see the pride he has for his accomplishment. It’s great to see their pride for helping out their team. Brandon changed positions last year from QB to DB. He had worked really hard to learn that new position. The first game at South Grand Prairie he intercepted a pass and ran it back for a big return. I was so happy for him at that moment. It makes me proud to see him when he goes into the elementary schools and gets to give back to the younger Dragons by reading and interacting with them. I remember how excited Brandon was when he was that age and for him to do the same thing is great.
What does being a Dragon mom mean to you?
Meyer Being a Dragon mom is special. It’s having forever friends. It’s a family. We’ve stood by each other through it all. Not only the wins but more importantly, the tears, surgeries and disappointments. Our Class of 2020 senior moms are very close, and we are ready for our last ride together.
What are your biggest fears/worries with your son playing and how do you deal with them?
Meyer Lots of praying. Football is a physical game, and it’s scary to think what can happen. In 2017, against Waco Midway, Wills completed a pass and couldn’t get up. He had broken his tibia. This was the very first broken bone in all his years of playing sports. My heart hurt for him.
Williams My son getting injured is my biggest fear, or for any of the players. Really the only way to deal with this is to pray and pray more.
How does the team become family?
Springer Because you are a Dragon from K-12, these boys become very close early on. So, by the time they are seniors, you truly believe this is a Dragon football family. The coaches also do an excellent job at making all Dragon players feel they are part of the Dragon football family no matter what grade they are in.
Meyer It’s unreal how disciplined and supportive these boys are during practices, the weight room and off the field as well. They work hard building a team and building friendships. They have each other’s backs in everything they do. Wills has an older sister, but I’m so blessed he has his “brothers,” too.
How do the wins and losses impact you?
Springer Winning obviously is a lot of fun and we tend to celebrate big! Fortunately, we haven’t had many losses, but those few were heartbreaking! But win or lose, we always hold our heads up high and remember to continue to protect the Dragon tradition.
Meyer Everyone loves to win, obviously, and as a mom, there’s no better feeling than seeing that joy on your child’s face. Losing is hard, but losing is learning. It’s a lesson we all need to remember.
What are your favorite memories of their time at Carroll?
Meyer I’ll never forget Wills’ first varsity TD, sophomore year, at the Green Out game. I’m sure he heard me screaming from the stands.
Howell I would say the favorite memories are the friendships he has created through the teams he has been on. Not just his friendships, but the friends I have made during his time at Carroll. All of these boys are going to be going their separate ways once high school is over, and I am going to have the pleasure to share their future accomplishments with their moms, whom I also get to call my friends.