By Courtney McEwen
(Photos from Jose Valdez & Texas Wesleyan Athletics)
While I know very little about fumbles and formations, an inspirational story is one I instantly recognize. As a key part of the Texas Wesleyan University’s 2020 Vision strategic plan, the university announced in February of 2016 it will reestablish its football program after a 75-year timeout.
Texas Wesleyan’s football program began in 1934 and competed against rivals like Austin College and John Tarleton Agricultural College (now Tarleton State University). During the 1940-41 season, the team triumphed, winning a conference championship on December 6. The very next day, a devastating attack was launched on Pearl Harbor and with a shortage of servicemen, the Texas Wesleyan players answered the call to serve. The championship would be their last time to play as a team and their selfless involvement and sacrifice in World War II signaled the university’s official suspension of Texas Wesleyan football.
75 years later, the university made the decision to once again reinvest in Rams football. With over two decades of experience, seven-time Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS) state football champion coach, Joe Prud’homme was hired in March of 2016 and says he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to write history and create something special.
In the fall of 2016, a red-shirt leadership class began practicing and scrimmaging in preparation for games beginning this September within the NAIA’s Central Football League. “This program is really an involvement injection for the university. Football helps round out the college experience, creating community, comradery and school pride,” Prud’homme says. “Ram Football has brought people together, from coaches, to players and administration. If you have a united system, you have a great chance at success. We’re not just building a football program, we’re raising great men. Teaching them to give back and seeing all they receive in return – on and off the field. Football is a great instructor and a vehicle to long-term success for the students. We’re growing their network by encouraging a model of education, athletics and community – in that order.”
Ram players are from all over, Tennessee to Louisiana. Many are local students that have returned from other institutions for various reasons and now have the chance to play in their own backyard and over 30 of the players are first generation students.
What makes this program and its players special is adaptability and attitude. “Players have to think abstractly with the limited resources a new program offers. Plans are in the works for future expansion but we’re building this airplane as we fly it,” says Prud’homme. Band and cheerleading programs are on the horizon and the university is currently exploring the possibility of developing a new stadium adjacent to campus through a collaborative partnership.
“Texas Wesleyan students are already receiving a top-tier education, and now, we’re adding a Texas-sized football tradition. We’re in the process of building something people can be proud of and invite you to join us as we embark on this momentous journey,” says Prud’homme.
From the historic team that served our country with distinction to the exceptional athletes of today, this is your opportunity to be part of history. See you in the stands on September 9 at Farrington Field.
The annual Rams Football Fundraiser Golf Tournament is held in April. This year, 31 teams came together and raised over $25,000 for the program. For more information, contact Tournament Chair, Susan Caffee at 817-771-2339. Curious about other ways to get involved? Visit TXWES.edu or email Coach Prud’homme at email@example.com. Season tickets are available at ramsports.net/tickets.