A Girl Named Willie

by Amy Goodwin on May 7, 2019

Recently I was asked to describe my maternal grandmother, Willie Weaver. It is hard. She died just three days short of my fifth birthday. Much of what I know about her was passed down to me from my mom and uncle. My mother’s side of the family was from Ireland. My great-great grandfather, Adam Carlisle, came over during the potato famine, fleeing starvation, poverty and marginalization. He followed a typical migratory pattern, landing on the East Coast, going south and eventually settling in Mississippi. My grandmother’s mother had various difficulties parenting her, so mostly my grandmother was raised by her grandfather and grandmother, Adam and Fannie Carlisle. She was named after her uncle; they called him, “Brother Willie.”

The Irish rubbed off on Grandmother Weaver. She loved to drink tea with mint in it; the mint grew along the fence in her backyard. We had tea on her screened in porch in West University; she and I drank from china teacups and ate wafer cookies. She gave me books for Christmas published in the UK that introduced me to worlds of fairies, magic and mermaids. My favorite book, Hilda Bowell’s Treasury of Poetry, bears her inscription. I can still recite my favorite poem in the book, the Raggle Taggle Gypsies, a Scottish ballad:

“How could you leave your goose feather bed, your blankeys strew so comely-o? And how could you leave your new wedded Lord, all for a raggle taggle gypsy-o”

It’s a longer poem, but that stanza stands out. What four-year-old wouldn’t love the story of a rich lady running off from her rich husband to go live with a bunch of raggle taggle gypsies? That’s great stuff.

I often look to the past for reassurance and strength, and I turn to my Irish roots. A complex culture steeped in Christianity and Druidism. The Celts didn’t have Jesus or Israel to explain the complexities of this world and the afterlife. They had nature; they had trees. The year was broken into sections and each section was represented by a sacred tree. Starting May 5th, we entered the sacred tree of Holly. Holly was used by druids for solstice fires, mainly because it burns so hot. They believed it also had metaphysical properties. It promoted life force and soul illumination. It was evergreen, so it could withstand even the bleakest winters.

My grandmother had such a magical way of looking at things. I’m off to buy some holly.

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Bobby Goodwin-Memories of My Dad

by Amy Goodwin on March 20, 2017

As the 60 year reunion of Darrell Royal’s 1957 recruiting class approaches, my thoughts return to the special moments of Dad’s life as a Longhorn. Although he passed on April 2, 2005, and he is not able to attend this momentous reunion, his spirit is present in DKR-Memorial Stadium, in Moore Hill Hall, on the practice field and in my life. The time he spent playing football at the University of Texas shaped him as a professional, as a father and as a man. Under Darrell Royal and his coaching staff’s tutelage, the lessons he learned in those four years of Texas football, became the lessons of my childhood. I became his standard bearer.

I was born in 1969. This is the year that the Longhorns mastered the Wishbone offense, a slippery, hot, and hard Astroturf, the Arkansas Razorbacks, and the Notre Dame fighting Irish to win the National Championship in the 100th year of College Football. It was a great time to be born in Texas!!! Between the championship season and my birth in 1969, there developed a special bond between the two of us that has lasted a lifetime.

In 1956 Bobby Goodwin was one of the top football recruits in the Southwest. He went to Milby High School in Houston and received many honors that resulted in scholarship offers from TCU, Baylor, A& M ( Bear Bryant was the coach), University of Houston, West Point, O.U. , Tulsa, and THE University of Texas.

My dad made the risky choice of joining Coach Darrell Royal’s first recruiting class in 1957, but history proves that Bobby Goodwin made the right decision.

Dad’s Memories Of Texas
On Monday, September 23, 1957 dad started his great journey at UT. It was the day the Texas freshman football team reported for duty. (Freshman did not play varsity football in in the late 50’s.)

I still have the original scholarship he signed on April 1, 1957. It reads, “Tuition and Fees, Room and Board, and $10.00 a month for laundry for a period of four years.”

Years later he would tell me without reservations that attending Texas were the best years of his life. Jokingly, he would say that parenthood was fine, but his days at UT were better. He said that teammates such as Dan Petty and JB Padgett became like brothers. The bond was so strong that JB named his first son after my dad. Coach Royal was not the player’s friend. His role was to coach, and the the teammates role was to play football. While Dad was scared to death of Coach, Dad spent his whole college career striving to make Coach Royal proud of him.

The Austin American Statesman was enamored with the size of the players on the freshman team. Bill Young was 6’7 and 250, Don Talbert was 6’5 and 205, Gerald Crutsinger was 6’4 and 205, and Butch Goodman was 6’4, 200. My Dad was 6 feet 205 pounds, but he was quick and fast, and a good hitter.

In the 50’s team members had to excel on both offense and defense to play for the Longhorns. There was no platoon system. Fortunately for Dad, Coach Royal realized early that Bobby Goodwin was not only a great offensive lineman but also a great defensive player. Dad loved to hit people on defense. This was important because Coach Royal focused more on defense than offense in his early years. Royal used to say, if the game ended zero to zero, at least that meant that you didn’t lose.

Playing college ball is a significant step up from high school football. As in life-not all participants on the team possessed the special resolve and good luck needed to play college football. Some players were just unlucky and incurred a freak injury that ended their football career. Many others left for other reasons – academics, home sickness, and/or disillusionment. Coach never held a grudge against a player who chose to leave the team. He never thought they were weak, or timid, or scared. Most of the players who left were great people who lived productive lives, but they just did not have football in their heart. Coach Royal said, “Football is not meant for everyone. Everyone’s not geared up for football. But for those who are geared up for football, thank goodness there’s a game like football for them to play.”

My Memories Of Dad

For the first three years of my life, I had my dad all to myself. (My brother Hunter wasn’t born until three years later.) I have very fond memories of those years and watching the Longhorn games together. Other Longhorn fans would come over; the games were an event, more like a party, and my mom made snacks. But the memory that stands out the most is me tucked in the crook of my dad’s arm watching the television. I quickly learned that the Longhorns made my dad crazy. He’d scream and yell and curse. And at the age of one, of course, all that yelling scared me to death, so I’d start crying, and people would have to coach me. They’d say, “He’s not yelling at you. He’s yelling at the football game.” I must have gotten used to it, because I kept watching the games with him, and he kept yelling.

Early on I realized football was a man’s game, so I found solidarity with the twirlers. I thought they were so beautiful and they had such appreciable skills. I mimicked the twirlers. I’d break away from Dad’s arm and twirl a plastic corn cob occasionally. That got me some of attention from our guests.

While I may have identified with the twirlers, football was still central to my childhood. It was the construct of our lives. It was how I socialized. Texas Longhorn football gave my dad a sense of purpose and mission in life. He was a smart man, a lawyer; he had this active, keen mind, and he used a large part of his brain to store and retrieve Longhorn football stats. He could rattle off completed passes, yards rushing, time of possession, and conversions on third down… to anyone who was willing to listen to him. He kept a calendar like other people keep diaries. In his calendar he recorded all his workouts. And, on occasion, he still ran pass patterns and pass defense, ten years after he’d finished playing the game.

In some ways it was hard being a girl surrounded by all that football. I never got to play the game or understand the deep bonds shared between teammates, but I did leverage my front row seat into Texas football history to start my own life. In 1988 the values he taught me that transcend sports and gender -resolve, perseverance, and work ethic- resulted in a full athletic scholarship to USC.

This picture reflects a very special moment in my life. On this day in 1989 it was my father’s turn to have a front row seat as I entered USC sports history as an All American in Cross Country. Even though my dad passed away in 2005, he and I are still bonded. In good times and bad times our spirits continue to connect and during those moments I draw strength from him.

Amy Goodwin

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Ed O’Bannon is a retired American professional basketball player, known as a power forward for the UCLA Bruins men’s basketball team on their 1995 NCAA Championship team. He was the 9th pick in the NBA Draft in 1995, selected by the New Jersey Nets. He spent two seasons in the NBA, but continued his professional career for another eight years, mainly playing in Europe. O’Bannon is the lead plaintiff in O’Bannon v. NCAA, an antitrust class action lawsuit against the NCAA.

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Andy Schwarz is an antitrust economist with a subspecialty in sports economics. He has served as an expert in a variety of cases, both state and federal. Notably, Mr. Schwarz was the case manager for the NFL’s economic expert in L.A. Raiders v. NFL and for Plaintiffs’ economic experts in O’Bannon v. NCAA and the economic expert for the Keller v. NCAA settlement class. He has testified to the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Education and the Workforce and served on another U.S. Congressional panel on college sports.

Mr. Schwarz has been featured on ESPN, in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg News, Sports on Earth, and USA Today, as well as in the book “Indentured: The Inside Story of the Rebellion Against the NCAA.” He is a frequent contributor to Vice Sports and Deadspin and has written for Slate, 538.com, Forbes.com and ESPN.com. His academic papers analyze secondary ticket markets, law and economics topics, NCAA bylaws, and the economics of virtual goods. He has co-authored a chapter in the Oxford Handbook of Sports Economics. Mr. Schwarz holds an M.B.A. from the Anderson School of Management at UCLA (Class of ’94) as well as an A.B. in History from Stanford University and an M.A. in History from Johns Hopkins.

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Interview with Bob DeMars on The Business of Amateurs

July 29, 2016

Bob DeMars is an award winning filmmaker with over a decade of experience producing, writing and directing. In 2009 he produced his first documentary, “Adjust Your Color: The Truth About Petey Green,” narrated by Don Cheadle. This documentary was the follow up to the acclaimed “Talk to Me” from Universal Focus Feature. The documentary was […]

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My Obsession with My All-American (personal essay)

November 20, 2015

My dad’s life peaked when he was 18-years-old; he got a full scholarship to the University of Texas to play football. He was a highly recruited athlete out of Milby High School in Houston; he played center. I still have his recruiting letters from The University of Texas, A&M, Baylor, TCU, Oklahoma, West Point. After […]

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Million Dollar Baby-from Popcorn Theology series by David Fikes (former priest)

July 5, 2015

Note: This presentation was given close to ten years ago. I recorded it, and afterwards asked the priest, “Can I share this?” He was okay with it, but then I lost the tape. Ironically I came across the tape just a few days ago, so posting it is long overdue. Ironically this message is probably […]

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Q&A with film producer Mark Johnson

June 15, 2015

Mark Johnson interview-October 25, 2013, Austin Film Festival (Many thanks to Mark Johnson for allowing me to publish on this site!) Q: Are you a sports fan and if so, what teams do you follow? A: I don’t know there is one sport I follow religiously. The sports section may be the first section I […]

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