Category Archives: Friends and Family

Red River Rollover: OU 63, Texas 21

Just a few pocket camera shots here, but I couldn’t pass up the chance to gloat a little about my Sooners.

The first time I ever saw an OU-Texas football game was in 1983 – as a member of the OU band (the “Pride of Oklahoma”).  During college, I saw a win, a loss and a legendary #1-vs-#2 last-second tie in 1984.  I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been to Dallas in early October for the OU-Texas game since then, but “win, lose or draw” (literally), it’s always a great spectacle.

The key to the game’s tradition is the neutral site at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.  The crowd is split 50/50, with 45,000 or so Sooner faithful on the east end and 45,000 Longhorns fittingly in the west.  Even better, the pre-game and post-game festivities outside the stadium are smack in the middle of the annual State Fair of Texas.  No tailgate party in the country can compare with the State Fair’s midway, carnival games, corny-dog vendors and fried ice cream.


I’ve seen almost every game in the “Stoops” era, which has been happily lopsided in the Sooners’ favor.  I live in Houston – land of the Longhorn – where the annual event in Dallas is backwardly and erroneously referred to as the “Texas-OU Game” – so each Sooner win offers opportunities to carefully balance smugness and graciousness with my many orange-laden Lone Star State friends.

This year was (another!) beatdown of the Longhorns by the Sooners.  The 63-21 final score actually makes it sound closer than it really was (it was 36-2 at the half).

One new amusement this year was the location of our seats.  On about the 40 yard line, on Row 1.  Our feet were just a foot or so above the turf, and we were just a few feet from the Sooners bench.  Of course we usually couldn’t actually see the GAME (except on the big screens), but we got a unique peek at the Sooner sidelines.  One fascinating moment occurred when the defense came off the field after a big interception.  The Sooner crowd was ecstatic, but the Sooner defensive coaches were furious – screaming at the players because the secondary had varied from their assignments.  The fact that the result of the play nonetheless turned out to be a Longhorn-crushing interception did not dampen the scolding one iota.



Thanks to Shane Merz, who let me bum a spare ticket this year.  That’s Shane in the hat with his college buddy Johnny George.  The pretty young girl with the funnel cake is Peyton Brougher, daughter of Aaron Brougher (another friend and Sooner alum from the 1980s).

Four-Wheelers and Fishermen: Creede, Colorado 2012


My trip to Creede wasn’t all (or even mostly) about leaves and cameras.  (You can click here to see the fall foliage pictures).  My Dad brought a trailer-full of 4-wheel ATVs.  So I spent a few days going down trails in the woods with my Dad (J.B. Cotner, in the red/blue shirts), my brother-in-law’s dad (Jim Parker, in camouflage), and a good friend of my Dad’s (John Frizzell of San Antonio, in the tan cap and black cowboy hat).

The mean age of my off-road 4-wheeling buddies was about 71, but we took on some long rides and rough terrain.  At one point, another ATV flagged me down at a trail intersection and encouraged me to turn back because the trail got “pretty hairy.”  He hadn’t seen that Dad and John had already gone right up it while I piddled in the back with a camera.  (The guy was right about the trail, though).


Meanwhile, my brother-in-law (Bill Parker) and his good friend Derald Glover spent most of their Colorado time knee-deep in mountain streams or in the Rio Grande itself.  Bill has become as much of a fly-fishing fanatic as someone from eastern Oklahoma can reasonably be.  By the last day they were in Creede, he and Derald finally got the right combination of location, lure and body English to land some trout he was proud to show off.


Wow (Big Thriller)

A late-summer trip to Lake Tenkiller (in eastern Oklahoma) yielded lots of fun, and at least one decent picture.  Hopefully the picture explains the odd title above (Wow – Big Thriller).  Those are my nieces:  Caitlin on the left (falling off); Grace on the right (screaming).  Thanks to the Simon clan at Pine Cove Marina for loaning us the boat!

Friday Night Heroes

 In a small town like Vian, Oklahoma, no tradition is stronger.  Nothing brings the community together – and nothing brings the community to life – like a high school football game.

I’ve never worn a pair of shoulder pads or a pair of cleats.  Even so, Friday night football was a big focus of my high school experience long ago in Vian (just like Saturday football was a centerpiece of college life at OU).  I got to see a Vian football game last Friday night.  I was glad to see that very little had changed in the past 30 years.

I went to Friday’s game to watch #40 Rowdy Simon (Sr., FB/LB) and #5 Rylee Simon (Soph., LB/QB).  Their dad, my cousin Joe Paul Simon, was a Vian football hero back in the 1980s (much like his dad had been in the 1960s).  It’s no surprise that Rowdy and Rylee are following in those cleated footsteps.

As the pictures show, Senior fullback Rowdy had some big runs (one TD scored and a second TD called back).  Sophomore Rylee is the backup quarterback.  But both of them are also starting linebackers (Rylee in the middle; Rowdy outside):  Imagine what a great experience it must be to stand out there shoulder-to-shoulder with your brother.  Then try to imagine how excited their Dad gets.

The 2012 Vian Wolverines are (again) ranked in the top handful of teams in Oklahoma in 2A football.  Friday night they made short work of Class 3A Spiro — scoring 55 points while holding Spiro scoreless until the last seconds of the game.  Keep an eye on the Wolverines this season.


In high school in the 1980s, I took football pictures for the yearbook and newspaper — standing on the sidelines in my band uniform and trading the camera for a trumpet at halftime.  But that was 30 years ago, so my football photography skills are now a little rusty.  Friday night, I could barely get my camera to my eye before a young Wolverine would dash right past me on the way to the goal line.  And I’d forgotten how to shoot with both eyes open, so I was nearly flattened more than once by players barreling across the sideline while I had my eye in the viewfinder (one diving Spiro tackler actually kicked me in the shin). 

That mischievous-looking ballboy (below) in the black #1 jersey is River Simon — Rowdy and Rylee’s younger brother.  Rest assured that River will be taking the field for Vian High in the years ahead. 



One more thing:  I researched it, and it turns out that Rowdy, Rylee, River and their little sister Rebel are not actually my “second cousins,” as I’d always thought.  They’re my “first cousins once removed” because our connection is via my grandparents and they’re from a different generation.  But in Sequoyah County, no one says “first cousin once removed,” so I’ll pretend they’re second cousins.


Another Hotter’n Hell Hundred


For the small group of my friends that makes the annual late-August pilgrimage to Wichita Falls, Texas for its Hotter’n Hell Hundred (“HHH”) bike ride, the weekend is all about tradition.   Like we’ve done for almost all of the past nine years, we got rooms at the La Quinta up near the airport, ate Friday dinner at El Chico, had pre-race breakfast at the What-a-Burger across the street, got in the starting line at the same spot on Scott Street at around 6:40a.m., regrouped after the ride listening to the bands in the same corner of the same big tent, went for a cool post-ride swim back at the La Quinta, then headed out for an early Saturday night dinner at Olive Garden, with dessert at the Braum’s on Kemp Street.  Every year.  Just like that.  Somehow every year’s bike ride is unique, but the agenda for the rest of the weekend is practically set in stone.  Why mess with such obvious perfection?!

A few years back, we would train all summer for Wichita Falls’ Hotter’n Hell Hundred (100-mile road bike ride).  This year, after finishing the much-tougher Leadville 100 on mountain bikes earlier in the month, we relied on leftover fitness:  our HHH training consisted of about two rides each – just enough to remember the slightly different feel of a skinny-tired road bike and brace ourselves for West Texas heat.  All the traditions were intact, though we had one new development:  Shane’s wife Michele came along and rode the full 100-mile trek.  She did a fine job of tolerating our idiosyncrasies and pretending she hadn’t heard our old HHH war stories a hundred times already.

Ned Barnett is a mainstay of the HHH traditions, but unfortunately he’s not in any of these pictures.  He actually did a separate race (finishing #15 of about 150 racers in his class), so we never saw him on the course or at the finish.  Happily, he did join us at El Chico and Olive Garden, where he brings his own body-is-temple bike racer food.