The year was 1983 and the Klein Bearkats were making a move for the State Title in 5A Baseball. This was a time when you had just a few schools in our district. Now as of late were we have multiple schools falling under the Klein area. In 1983 we were considered “in the country.” Going to Tomball was a very long trip (so it seemed). Our team had a nucleus of players that all had grown up in the area and played baseball together for years. Our Head Coach, Herb Allen, had a big job during this run to keep us grounded and focused on the task at hand. Klein Baseball in recent 5A History never made a run so deep into the playoffs.
One memory which comes to mind was our trip to Dallas to play our Regional Tournament. Coach Allen was on us to focus and get ready to play Dallas Lake Highlands. During our playoff run, we had the chance to play other big 5A schools and experienced the perks which most enjoyed. State of the art equipment, and chartered Busses (aka "Dog Bus") were just a few of the benefits our other big 5A schools enjoyed.
Our team spokesman, PK Kuzniar, (appointed himself) took it as a mission with Coach Allen to make sure our team received the same treatment. As most of you know, Coach Allen had his own way of viewing things! During our workouts that week, PK broached the subject with Coach Allen of our transportation needs. We needed proper transportation on our long trip to Dallas, playing in the Regional tournament against Dallas Lake Highlands commanded the need for luxurious travel. With great detail, PK explained the image we needed to project while representing Klein in the playoff run. Coach Allen listened and his special way answered him by saying “The yellow school bus brought us to this point and it will continue to do so going forward!” After all Coach Allen drove us to every game and the yellow school bus was our trademark. In reflection, I really thought if we had him focused on us for the 5-hour trip to Dallas instead of driving, this could lead to ALL kinds of unwanted focus. I guess someone was looking out for us!
As Coach Allen admitted, the yellow school bus did a good job at transporting our team to Dallas. The phrase “country coming to town” was an understatement! Our welcome into our rival Dallas Lake Highlands was less than warm. At the time, Dallas Lake Highlands was picked to walk over everyone and take the State title. Certainly this “little” school from Klein, Texas was no match for this powerhouse team.
The yellow school bus set the tone for catcalling and jokes as we arrived for workouts. Coach Allen, in his special way, provided guidance and direction on how we were to conduct ourselves in response to their actions. This would pay off big for us in momentum going forward.
Needless to say, the game drew fans from all over Dallas. I had never been to a high school game with such a crowd. News media and Lake Highland fans made it a tough time for us. To add fuel to the fire, our host team stuck us in a small room to serve as our locker room during the game. Coach Allen used all of this to help us rise up to the challenge at hand. In his special way, he delivered one of the most memorable pregame talks I can remember.
In 1983 our school’s ethnic makeup was mostly white. Our team reflected that makeup, but Coach Allen was a man of color. Our friends in Dallas were quick to notice this and used it for the story line for many of the comments made to us during our game. One special comment was directed at Coach Allen about shining shoes! ALL of us were taken back by the comment and used the energy of the situation to fuel our fire and allow Klein to beat the pants off of Lake Highlands.
Our team pulled off one of the greatest upsets that day. We played on emotion, and with the proper direction from Coach Allen, it worked in our favor. During the time we were in Dallas, many of the news stations wanted to talk with Coach Allen. He ALWAYS refused. After winning the game, one local reporter stormed onto the field and stuck a microphone into Coach Allen’s face. We were all circled around him waiting for his reply! Still to this day, I cannot think of a moment in time I was more proud to be part of such a wonderful event. In his special way, he turned to the crowd and spoke into the camera. He simply said “I guess now I will get to shine shoes in AUSTIN, TEXAS”! We erupted with emotion and loaded back onto our school bus triumphant and headed back home.
You go through life and meet just a few true leaders or mentors! Coach Allen was a big part of developing many young boys into men! His guidance, leadership and moral values still guide all of us today! The Team of “83” was a special group. Now in 2013, 30 years later, we reflect on that special moment in time. I know with the guidance and direction from Coach Smith and company, many of the same wonderful memories are being made with the current Bearkat teams! Best of Luck to all current and future Bearkats! Remember, you are making memories which will last a lifetime!
On a side note, PK did finally get through to Coach Allen! We did get a charter for our trip to Austin! I really think Coach Allen enjoyed the ride…..