Unlike Texas Basketball, Football, Track And Baseball There Are Very Few Books dedicated to  Longhorn golf.  I Hope With Time This Site Can Add Some Historical Insight And Tell the compelling Story Of Longhorn Golf .  


HIstory of Longhorn women's golf from  1957-2014

Pat Weis head coach from 1957-1993


Coach Weis was the Longhorn Golf Coach from - 1957- 1993

Coach Weis was the Longhorn Golf Coach from - 1957- 1993

Much of the research for this section was derived from the incredibly informative book

                   "Life of Coach-The Story of Pat Weis" by Mickie Edwards

Coach Pat Weis

Pat Weis was hired in 1957 as a P.E. teacher. After Title IX in 1973 she was hired as the varsity golf coach. 

During her tenure  Weiss was involved in many major changes in women's golf. The changes included: 

  • a change in the ruling body of college sport from the AIAW to the NCAA;

  • changes in recruiting techniques, and scholarship offers;

  • changes in Golf rules: and

  • changes of a sports program dominated by men to a sports program dominated by great women and men athletes. Harvey Penick was one of the first golf instructors who understood that talent is not gender exclusive.

Much of the research for this section was derived from the incredibly informative book -"Life of Coach-The Story of Pat Weis" by Mickie Edwards.


  • The UT women's golf program started in 1969.

  • Weis was a member of of the rules committee for the Senior PGA tour;

  • a 2001 Hall of Honor inductee;

  • part of the NCAA Championship tournaments 24 times;

  • Coach for 3 Big 12 Champion and 7 SWC champions;

  • Her teams were included in the top 10 Nationally 11 times;

  • She coached 11 All-Americans, 4 SWC players of the year, 3 Honda-Broderick Award winners, one AIAW National Champion, one National Player of the Year, and one NCAA tournament medalist; and


  • She earned 5 Conference Coach of the Year Awards, 2 National Coach of the Year Awards, and one Gladys Palmer Award.




University of Texas Women's Golf 1969-2014 


1972- Coach Weis

Nancy Hager was the medalist in the state meet, and finished 3rd at the National meet.

Title IX becomes law

1973- Coach Weis 

First year for the Women's Intercollegiate Athletic Program.  The budget for all 7 women sports was  $27,000.  Women's golf received $220 of the budget. Coach Weis  managed the Golf team in her spare time and worked full time as a teacher.  With no budget to travel she decided to bring top level women's golf to Austin.  By  1976 the name of the invitational tournament is named after Betsy Rawls. 

Pat was on the 1973 and 1974 AIAW Golf Committee. 

1974- Coach Weis

4th in the AIAW individual rankings 



Coach Weis said Cindy Figg was a great leader for the team.





1975-Coach Weis

Lopiano is hired as the Women's Athletic Director.

The golf team decides not join the SWC. 

 The team is 14th in the AIAW  National Championship tournament

Since the budget is very small  there are no uniforms until a Austin doctor contributes funds to purchase the clothing.   Cathy Bertram remembered how hard it was to find burnt orange accessories  for the team and that Coach Weis had to wash all the Longhorn clothes. 

Nancy Hager  finishs 5th in the AIAW individual rankings in 1975, and she is the medalist at the Betsy Rawls' Invitational in 1974 and 1975. She is MVP on the team in 1974. 

Carla Spenkoch is MVP in 1975



1976-Coach Weis

Below is the first “official” Longhorn golf team at Texas.   Horns Up!!!!!!!!!!!

Harvey Penick helps Cindy Lincoln develop into an All American. 

Most valuable player is Carla Spenkoch. Team finishes 2nd in state.



1977-Coach Weis

Laura Huxhold is the medalist for the Championship team in 1977. 

Team is 8th in the AIAW  National championship tournament.

For the first time, On May 8th 1977 the tower is orange for a woman's SWC championship. 



Golf team is 3rd in the AIAW  National championship tournament.




1978-Coach Weis finished 4th in TAIAW

The team is 14th in the AIAW  National championship.

Coach is   still a part-time coach of the Longhorn women's golf team, but the budgets  start to increase so the Longhorns offer more golf scholarships. 

Debbie Petrizzi  finishs as #1 AIAW National Championship medalist in 1978. She is an All American, HOH inductee, and the Honda Broderik Award winner for National Collegiate Golfer of the year. She is one of only three Horns that have won the individual title at the National Championship tournament.

Bari Brandwynn's is  the daughter of a band leader at Ceaser's in Vegas who has two celebrity friends - Mac Davis and Don Cherry.  They tell  Coach Weis how great a golfer Bari is but since the recruiting rules in  1978 stated that a university could not recruit a women  athlete  or pay her way on a recruiting trip, Bari  drives herself and her two dogs to Austin for the interview with Coach Weis. She signs a Letter of Intent.

1979-Coach Weis


Coach Weis is selected chairperson for the All-American selection committee.

Lori Huxhold is a stand out player on the 1979 team.   

Jackie Daiss is  the only girl player on the boy's high school team. Her golf talents are featured in Sports Illustrated.  

The team is  8th in the AIAW  National championship

Bari Brandwynne  is medalist at the Betsy Rawls' Invitational  in 1979. (no picture)





1980-Coach Weis

Coach Weiss is hired as a full time coach for the Women's golf team, and the Athletic Department pays her full salary.  Slow start but an nice finish as the Horns won the TAIAW state championship with Lori Huxhold winning the medalist honors. 

The team is 7th in the AIAW  National championship.

1981- Coach Weis Team is 3rd in the AIAW  National championship

First time that Coach Weis split her golf team up sending one team to California and the other to Bryan Tx.   Experience was needed for all the golfers had great potential.  This was one of Coach Weis best teams with Pettrizzi, Figg, and Brandywynne leading the way.  


Team is 3rd in the AIAW  National championship.










1982- Coach Weis

1981 golf.jpg










Nancy Ledbetter finishsd 5th in the AIAW individual rankings. 

Coach Weis says  to those who would listen that it is difficult for Freshman to adjust from golf as an individual sport in high school to golf as a team sport in college. 







1983 pending -Coach Weis

1983 W. Golf ).jpg

Sherri Steinhauer

This is Texas  first year to play under NCAA rules. In order to give student athletes a chance to enjoy the college environment, the NCAA limits practice time to 20 hours a week. Golf scholarships are cut from 8 to 6 by the NCAA.

The team is   victorious in three tournaments and places 15th in the NCAA Championship. 

Kim Shipman says  of Coach Weis "Being able to coach and organize all kinds of personalities takes a big heart, a quick wit, and aged Scotch."

1984- pending-Coach Weis win the SWC



Lisa States that Coach Weis benched her before the team went to San Diego for a tournament.  It was Lisa's hometown and her parents still lived there.  She was furious, and resorted to begging to perhaps get Coach to change her mind.  Lisa learned that Coach never messed around ,and Like many other "incorrigible" players she learned that in order to play at tournaments you had to earn the spot. 




Team wins one tournament and the SWC Championship.

Nancy Ledbetter is the SWC individual championship and she is the MVP of the team.

Texas finished 11th at the NCAA championship

LPGA names Coach Weis College Golf Coach of the Year

1985-Coach Weis


Sue Ginter is 1984 Conference Player of the Year and MVP in 1985. 

Kate Golden finishs  tied for 9th in the NCAA individual rankings in 1989. Her father Joe Bob Golden was on the Longhorn men's golf team in 1951.


Sherri Steinhauer is a first team All American, and finishs 42nd in the NCAA Championship. Sherri is quoted as saying in the book Life of Coach by Mickie Edwards that "Coach Weis didn't try to instruct her players about how to play golf. She never worked with us on swing specifics.  She would give us tips and goals to strive for , but she left the golfing mechanics up to our own pros." 

The Betsy Rawls tournament is renamed the "McDonald's Betsy Rawls Longhorn Classic."



1986-Coach Weis

Jenny Germs from Johannesburg is the first foreign player to receive a Longhorn Golf Scholarship.

1986 Golf  sue Ginter (100).jpg

Sue Ginter is the medalist at the SWC meet

Kate Golden is SWC individual Championship three times while at Texas. 

Team wins two tournaments including the SWC championship.

Team places 17th in the NCAA Championship

















1987  SWC Champs  Weis is SWC Coach of the Year


Jaime Fischer (1986-1991)J

Jaime Fischer won the SWC individual title in 1991 and was named Academic All-American.  After leaving the tour she became a master instructor and Golf for Women Magazine named her as one of the top 50 instructors.  

Jaime was always amazed at Coach Weis ability to "assemble a group of young women who each needed so many different things. "Coach worked with a most diverse group of women, always fair, honest, and genuine"- but tough.

The Golf team wins six tournaments including the SWC championship.

Team places 7th in the NCAA Championship.

The Longhorns successfully recruit their first US Amateur Champion- Michiko Hattori. 

Coach Weis changs her practice schedule to allow more focus on individual play vs. team play.  The new approach is  successful and team morale boosted.  Finally, after 13 years the Longhorns win their host tournament. 

Coach Weis  says  this was  one of her best teams. She is named National Coach of the Year by the National Golf Coaches Association.


1988- Coach Weis - First in the SWC

Horns broke a SWC record for widest victory margin.   Hattori was the medalist. She won 5 of the teams tournaments. 




Team wins  four tournaments including the SWC championship

Places 11th in the NCAA Championship



Coach Weis record at Texas is impressive. As of 1988 her golf teams had qualified for the National Championship venue in all but two years. 


1989 pending-Coach Weis


Piper Wagner- 1987-1982  "Piper UP"

Piper says in the book Life of Coach by Mickie Edwards that at a certain moment and time " I wasn't a very good golfer."  Other teammates "were tough and seemed able to take the ups and downs of competing withe each other and other team as well."  "My biggest challenge was growing up mentally and fitting in. I had to learn how to handle life. For me, the pressure was so intense." Piper accomplish her college goals.

In March 2011 she was diagnosed with cancer.  Her teammates and friends started a "Piper UP" charity bike ride to honor Piper. 15,000 white wristbands were sold to help Piper and raise awareness of Lung cancer.   Piper passed away in August of 2014, but she left a great Legacy and in 2014 her Longhorn friends dedicated the 2014 Weis cup to Piper.   

Horns are  champions of the SWC and is the number one qualifier for the NCAA tournament. After the first day the team is 19 shots down, and they never recover. The team finishs 10th.

Coach Weis is asked why some of her players lacked discipline? She said "Advanced athletic skill does not automatically come with the responsibility of maturity!"

Jaime Fischer is the  SWC individual title winner and a Academic All-American.  After leaving the tour she coaches as a master instructor. Golf for Women Magazine named her as one of the top 50 instructors. 


1990-Coach Weis

Women’s golfing team wins their 4th consecutive SWC. Michiko Hattori tied for 2nd in the SWC.

Team is  victorious in  two tournaments including the SWC championship. Machiko is SWC player of the year. 

Team Places  7th in the NCAA Championship

Tom Kite's connections helped the Longhorns recruit Machiko.  Coach Weis said that Michiko was " one of her best athletes at managing her game.  

Michiko Hattori  finishs 2nd in the  NCAA National Championship medalist competition and she wins the Honda Broderik Award for National Collegiate Golfer of the year. In 1989 she receives the Eleanor Dudley Award.  She also finishs tied for 7th in 1988 and ties for 6th place in 1991 in the NCAA Individual rankings.




Machiko holds the Texas record as most times to make the All American team (4). She was also named SWC Athlete of the decade for golf ( 1982-1992).


1991 cOACH wEIS


Jenny Turner is the highest finisher from the state of Texas at the NCAA tournament. She finished 2nd at the SWC meet.

Team is  victorious in five tournaments including the SWC championship.

Coach says the 1992-1993 team was the most unselfish team she coached. Each player supported the effort of their teammates

1993-Coach Weis 4th in the Nation.

After 20 years as head coach of the Longhorn women’s golf team , Pat Weis retires. Nadine Cash Angela Wray, an d Jenny Turner made sure that Pat’s last year was a success with a 4th place finish at nationals. Ash was the SWC player of the year and Weis was Coach of the Years.

Team wins the SWC Championship.

After a player begs Coach Weis to play her in a tournament, Coach says "Let your clubs do the talking, not your mouth!". 

Charlotta Sorenstam  finishes as #1 NCAA National Championship medalist in 1993, and wins the Honda Broderik Award for National Collegiate Golfer of the year. She also finishes #1 in the NCAA individual rankings in 1993, and is a first team All American.

Nicole Cooper walks-on to make the UT women's golf team.  With special instruction from Harvey Penick she develops into a consummate golfer.  She and Nadine Cash represent the USA in the World University Golf Championship in Madrid, Spain.  Nicole took individual honors and the USA wins  as a team.  Her final two holes of the match were a pressure cooker but a comment from Harvey helped smooth her nerves.  He said to her before she left for the tournament  " take dead aim".   She did!!!! 

In Reflection

Coach Weis continued the history of great coaches at Texas.  While she never produced a NCAA champion she was within 2 strokes of winning it all on two separate occassions. 

Her teams won 7 of the 10 SWC championships during her tenure.   More importantly 93% of her eligible players graduated. 



To read  more about UT women's Golf program and Pat Weis there is a great book available. 





Spanky Stephens and David Anderson - Natasha’s Law

In July 2001, Michael “Spanky” Stephens became the Executive Director for the Texas State Athletic Trainers Association after working 33 years at the University of Texas and the last 22 as the Head Athletic Trainer. Spanky served 22 years on the Governor appointed Advisory Board of Athletic Trainers and has served on numerous committees and focus groups within the NATA and State Government.

Spanky has spent years setting concussion protocols to protect the high school athletes and provide the best health care for the players. His work continues and the projects he is involved will continue to make the health care for young athletes better. Anytime someone from an outside organization tries to change a system they will be perceived as a threat to larger institutions . It took Spanky’s organization a while to convince the UIL and the High School coaches Association that the Texas State Athletic Trainers Associations was an advocate not a threat to their sports, but the mission was accomplished.

Spanky Stephens was responsible for assembling the professionals to write Natasha’s Law. Spanky says “many do not realize that if a student continues to play with a concussion and receives a second head injury, there is a greater chance of severe brain damage or even death. “

“Natasha’s Law is just the beginning,” Stephens said, “and it has stimulated the need for more research."

The Texas Governor signed the concussion legislation into law.

The highlights of Natasha’s Law include;

  • Concussion Management Team

  • Removal from Play

  • Waiver and Graded Protocol to Return to Play

  • Specific Education/Training for all HCP’s

  • State Wide Tracking/Logging of Concussions

Texas is the 21st state with enacted legislation

David Andersons says about Spanky “Spanky became my client at HillCo during my first year with the lobby firm, 2003. His work on the concussion legislation, Natasha’s Law, is a textbook case of how to take a good idea and make it the law.  The bill’s author was a first term member from Amarillo, Four Price. While he was a rookie then, Four is now one of the top members in the Legislature and he will tell you how important Spanky was with that bill and how much he learned about the legislative process as he worked on it. That bill became the model for many other states since 2011”.

Brain Injury Research Institute

The Brain Injury Research Institute is a center for the study of traumatic brain injuries and their prevention that was founded in 2002. Its founding members include: Julian E. Bailes, M.D., Chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery at West Virginia University School of Medicine and former NFL and current NCAA team physician; Bennet Omalu, M.D., forensic neuropathologist, who is the Chief Medical Examiner for San Joaquin County, California, and Associate Adjunct Professor at the University of California, Davis; and Robert P. Fitzsimmons, Senior Partner at Fitzsimmons Law Offices, in Wheeling, West Virginia.

Chicago Tribune November 2017 Kia Cadenza

Four years ago, researchers from Evanston's NorthShore University HealthSystem and other scientific organizations announced that they had used brain scans to detect the hallmark of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, in ex-football players while they were still alive - a technique that promised to spur more accurate diagnoses, and possibly new treatments.

 The scans indicated the presence of tau, a protein that builds up over damaged neurological cells, in the brains of former NFL players. But the scientists cautioned that the results needed to be confirmed, since CTE can be definitely diagnosed only by examining brain tissue after a person's death.

Dr. Julian Bailes, a NorthShore neurosurgeon, said Wednesday that confirmation has arrived.

In a paper published last week in the journal Neurosurgery, Bailes and other researchers reported that one of the former players who had undergone a scan had his brain examined after he died - and sure enough, the tissue revealed that he had been suffering from CTE.

The condition is associated with repetitive head trauma and results in 

dementia-like symptoms.

More research is needed to corroborate the result, but if it holds up, Bailes said it could be a pivotal step in finding a way to help people with the condition.

"If there's ever a treatment developed, you can test the response to it," he said. "If you can trust the scans, you can tell a football player he shouldn't keep playing, or tell someone in the military he can't get in the way of explosions."

Visit the Chicago Tribune at




Saw this last week about a young lady with a remarkable recovery.  This is the same group that Bob Lilly and others have treated with.


 There is a less expensive procedure called celltex that is administered in this country.  I cannot substantiate the results of the treatment,  but I know some very important people are using this procedure.    Their site is, and the site has a testimonial component you can visit. Other sites to visit include


Bill Atessis.

Dear Horns,  (From Bill Atessis)

I am in the beginning phase of investigating a treatment by Celltex Therapeutics for one of my closest friends. This company has treated several prominent NFL players for Dementia and Alzheimer's.   I have spoken with several former Dallas Cowboys who have been treated and all are pleased with the results.  

That said- please know that I am still in the due diligence phase of research and my comments are informational only and should not be construed as an endorsement of Celltex .

Jackie Sherrill (former A&M Coach back in the 80's) has been working with Celltex Therapeutics and NFL players to get this treatment covered by the lawsuit funds.  I'm not exactly sure of the pricing but the NFL players I talked to say it is around $15 - $20 thousand.   I will try and meet with Jackie to get more information and a better idea of costs.

This treatment is not covered by insurance nor is it FDA approved.  The stem cell extraction is done in Houston however the injection is done at their clinic in Cancun Mexico.

If you have any questions that you would like me to ask as I pursue my due diligence, please forward to me thru 

I hope all is going well with you and family.  I am really encouraged about our new coach, and I believe we are going to see UT back in the top tier of college football where we should be.

Hook 'em,

Bill  Atessis


  Al Sears, MD
11905 Southern Blvd.
Royal Palm Beach, FL 33411

February 14, 2019

Years of crushing blows on the gridiron took a toll on Joe Namath’s brain. But he’s seen dramatic improvement thanks to this natural therapy.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady pulled off another win. But seeing the players take hits over and over reminded me how tough pro football can be on players’ bodies. It also reminded me of another incredible NFL quarterback.

One who lives right up the coast from me here in South Florida — Joe Namath.

Joe had an amazing career with the New York Jets. But the bone-crunching blows that come with the sport left him with damage to his brain.

This type of injury is called traumatic brain injury, or TBI. It’s very common in athletes who play contact sports, especially football players.

But you can experience TBI from other things, too. Like falls, car accidents or other head trauma. People with TBI have symptoms like memory loss, confusion, headaches, trouble speaking, vision loss and a lack of coordination.

Your risk of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia rises dramatically after a brain injury.

Mainstream medicine’s treatment for TBI includes a long list of drugs… everything from anti-anxiety drugs to anti-psychotic drugs to sedatives. These drugs can end up doing more damage to your brain and health.

Incredibly, there’s a completely natural and easy treatment they won’t even discuss with you... One that can actually heal your damaged brain. It’s the treatment Joe Namath used.

And it dramatically changed his life.

I’m talking about hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT).

Joe saw such an improvement in his cognitive function after undergoing HBOT that he’s now an outspoken advocate for the therapy. And his brain scans back up his recovery claims.

Areas that were once dark on the scans — showing decreased blood flow — lit up after Joe’s HBOT treatment.

Joe’s not the only brain-injury patient to be helped by HBOT. A study published in the journal PLOS One looked at 56 patients with post-concussion TBI who underwent HBOT. After eight weeks, the patients had significant brain function improvements, as well as improved quality of life. Even if their injuries had occurred years before.1

And here’s the really exciting part… Even though conventional doctors say there’s no hope for stroke patients after six months, the study participants had their strokes six months to three years prior to receiving HBOT.

This is truly an incredible therapy. It’s also a powerful healer for:

  • Inflammation

  • Wounds

  • Cancer

  • Infection

  • Heart disease

  • Parkinson's disease

When it comes to your brain, HBOT can do more than just heal damage caused by trauma. Studies have found it improved symptoms in kids with autism; 2 enhanced cognitive function in patients with vascular dementia; 3 and repaired brain damage in stroke victims.

In fact, in a study at Tel Aviv University, stroke patients who received HBOT for two months recovered from paralysis, were able to speak again, and had an increase in sensation. Scans of their brains showed increased neuronal activity.4

HBOT involves breathing pure oxygen in a pressurized chamber. This allows your lungs to take in much more oxygen than they normally do. It also stimulates the growth of new blood vessels, which heals and regenerates damaged or diseased tissues, blood vessels and cells throughout your body.

Your body needs an adequate supply of oxygen to function properly. And when you suffer damage — to the brain or any other tissue — you need even more oxygen. That’s why it’s critical to increase the amount of oxygen your blood is able to carry to promote healing.

Heal Your Brain with HBOT

I use hyperbaric oxygen therapy every day at the Sears Institute for Anti-Aging Medicine. And the whole procedure is as easy as breathing. Here’s how it works:

  1. During an HBOT session, you sit or recline comfortably in a pressurized chamber.

  2. You breathe in 100% oxygen.

  3. You can listen to music, watch a movie or simply relax.

A typical HBOT session lasts just over an hour. Treatments are repeated, depending on the condition, anywhere from five to 40 times.


1. Boussi-Gross R. “Hyperbaric oxygen therapy can improve post concussion syndrome years after mild traumatic brain injury – randomized prospective trial.” PLoS One. 2013;8(11):e79995.
2. Rosignol DA, et al. “Hyperbaric treatment for children with autism: A multicenter, randomized, double-blind, controlled trial.” BMC pediatrics. 2009;9:21.
3. Xiao Y. et al. “Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for vascular dementia.” Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012; 11;(7).
4. American Friends of Tel Aviv University. Oxygen chamber can boost brain repair years after stroke or trauma. Science News. January 23, 2013.


football player Jordan McNair from Maryland, Reggie Grob from Texas, and Joe Good a Fictional Character from West Texas all died of heat stroke.

Stopping heat stroke deaths takes a combination of adequate hydration by coaches and trainers who understand  both the causes and the symptoms of heat stroke.

On September 1, 1962 Reggie Grob, a Texas football player, was rushed to the hospital with a  core temperature of  106.  He died two weeks later.   May 29th , 2018 Jordan McNair ,a Maryland football player, was rushed to the hospital with a core temperature of 106.  He died two weeks later.  56 years of important heat stroke research separated these  two tragic deaths , but for a Jordan McNair on this day of infamy research on what precipitates a heat related death was forgotten.  



The story that follows tells the story of a  fictional character named "Joe" and his coaches who missed all the signals that lead to Joe's heat stroke death.


When  water was for Sissies 1950's - 1962 By Billy Dale

heat stroke 2.jpg



Joe Good  is a fictional football player trying out for the  Core Heat  AAAAA High School  football team  in a West Texas town in 1961. It is a time when Coaches still believe that drinking water during football practice was for sissies. During the first 4 minutes of conditioning drill on the first day of practice on a hot humid day in late August 1961, Joe Good becomes  another statistic of the "water is for sissies" conviction.   Joe dies when his core temperature  reaches 106 degrees and all his organs shut down. 

In 1961  medical professionals were still researching the significance of  dehydration in the death spiral.  Joe Good  died because dehydration made his blood thicker which increased his  heart rate and decreased the amount of blood his  heart could pump with each beat. To exacerbate Joe's problem dehydration made it harder for his fat to get into his  muscles to be used for fuel. Instead  his  muscles burned the limited sugars (glycogen) already there. 


Since the full dynamics of  the role dehydration plays in  heat stroke was unknown  to the Coaches in 1961 at  Core Heat  High School , they continued to use follow techniques learned from past generations of Coaches. Bear Bryant's Coaching style  from the 50's  was one of them. 


In Junction Boys by Jim Dent he says that  Bryant was aware of  a couple of death's  due to heatstroke in 1954 , but one of his trainers reasoned "Hell you never pour ice water into a car's hot radiator. So why pour ice water into a hot boy."  That logic almost cost the life of Billy Schroeder at a practice in Junction, but even after watching one of his players almost die , Coach Bryant still did not permit water at practice.  Cotton mouth was prevalent and even the great Jack Pardee said " I'm so thirsty that I can't even make spit."

 All the players at Core Heat High School knew not to  ask for water during work-out  because it was tantamount to admitting to a  character flaw. The other myth past down from coaches in  the 40's and 50's  stated that screaming, cajoling, and  spewing insulting remarks at  players was a proven "motivational" technique.    It was during conditioning drills that all these motivational techniques came into play. Conditioning exercises  allowed Coaches insight into the “character” of their athletes. It was a time to separate  the “sissies” from the "men".

In Junction Boys by Jim Dent Coach Bryant ask two seniors "what is wrong with the team?"  Marvin Tate responded" ......players are getting tired of being cussed all the time." "I've never been called so many names in my life, Coach. Every time I turn around, one of the coaches is making fun of somebody's mother."


On the day of Joe’s death his brain sent him a message. It said slow down because  you are fatigued and  your core temperature is rising.  Joe did exactly what his mind said,  but the Coach interpreted Joe’s slower pace as laziness and gave Joe a symbolic “kick in the butt" using cajoling and derogatory remarks as the "motivational" techniques of choice.  

 Screaming, cajoling, and insults may have worked on some athletes but it was flawed  motivational technique for Joe's personality.   Joe was a proud and needed no motivation from the coach. He wanted to make the team at all cost so the verbal kicks  were not effective.  The Coaches  comments  only  served to embarrass him in front of his peers.  According to Coach Darrell Royal  “ When you take  pride away from a player, you've destroyed the best tool you've got.  If you hurt him, you've hurt the team."

Joe's pride was hurt, but his motivation to make the team remained intact.  Joe was a  normal  17 year old boy  trying to find his way in life.  He wanted recognition and a sense of belonging. Football offered him that chance.  He wanted the adoration of all the pretty  girls ,  attention at parties, respect from peers, and recognition from the residence of his hometown.  He had no desire to play beyond his high school years, and a college education was not in his future.  Making the team would be a major benchmark in his life.    Joe was willing to use samurai warrior techniques to make the the team so he pushed himself harder during the conditioning drills.   Joe's decision to push harder  when his mind said slow down was the final bad decision in a perfect storm of events that took his life .  

Joe's positive attributes- hard work, determination , and his never quit mentality-  combined with a hot humid day, a coach who pushed too hard, and his refusal to listen to his body killed him.   If only one of these factors had not been present , Joe would still be alive.

Joe’s death was only covered locally. A reflection of the national mindset of the media and  general populous in  the 60’s.   A death of an athlete at practice was not worthy of national news.  Everyone of course was sad at Joe's  passing, but fans who loved football understood that “inherently uncontrollable risks” are part of the game and Joe knew that risk.    One year later two events will shock the sports  world.  All fans would learn that dying from dehydration is not an  inherently uncontrollable risk.  It is in fact controllable and preventable.   

Most coaches at the University level prior to 1962 believed that  players asking for water were sissies.   Royal also adhered to this belief. Coach Royal wanted tough players so he had tough workouts with lots of conditioning.  I know because I played for him in the late 60’s. Royal said  "Football is a physical contact, spartan game.  You don't go out there for any taffy-pull......"  Under Royal’s regime only the strongest survived.  

In 1962  two real heat related deaths in the SWC  exposed the belief that water is for sissies as a fraud.  It would forever change the dynamics of  hydration at practice.

 Pat Culpepper played ball for the Horns in the early 60’s and he wrote an Orange Blood thread about what happened in 1962 that finally exposed  “water is for sissies”  as a lie. 

 He says,  “We (Longhorns) had come through two weeks of full pad practices in the Austin heat and humidity. There were water breaks for the first time because of heat problems around the Southwest Conference. In fact, we had five players taken to Breckenridge Hospital with heat dehydration. Only one never made it back - Reggie Grob from Houston. He died along with Mike Kelsey the senior captain from SMU. Mike survived for  17 days before succumbing to  liver and kidney failure.  Reggie at 19 years of age succumbed to heat stroke around the same time.   At the time of Reggie and Mike’s s passing only salt tablets were offered to reduce dehydration during practice.

Doctors thought the new plastic shoulder pads had something to do with these two heat related deaths. Culpepper says “Most of us wore expensive leather shoulder pads that actually got wet with our sweat which let some air through the jerseys while the plastic pads encased the player and did not allow any air. Before those youngsters died we never got water breaks, but our head coach Darrell Royal, as other coaches learned a tragic lesson. We went to Reggie's memorial service in Houston as a team in two buses on Monday before our first game.”





 According to Jones Ramsey (Sports Information Director) Coach Royal was devastated by Reggie’s death and “collapses and cries” in the huge arms of Defensive Line Coach Charley Shria.

Bill Little said about Reggie " In a very real sense, his death meant that thousands and thousands have lived. Out of tragedy, he gave us all a gift. And that's why he's a legend".

Juan Conde says   "I was already working as assistant equipment manager when Reggie passed away from heat exhaustion. I also recall Frank Medina tending him vigorously and the arrival of the ambulance. This incident took place at the old practice field across the creek and across from memorial stadium where practices were held. Coach Royal took Reggie’s death very hard."


 The death of Reggie and Mike  was a wake up call for all who are associated with sports.  Doctors, led by the American Medical Association, began immediate research on the effects of heat on the human body. Within a year, Universities mandated more liquids be served to athletes during workouts and games.

At the high school level changes were slower.  Some states were proactive  and moved quickly to change workout routines.  State athletic associations and individual school districts  mandated limited practices during certain times of day,  and required practice days without full pads so that athletes could acclimate to the weather.  Other states struggled to make  changes to protect athletes.  As of 2018 one state representative is still  struggling to pass a bill  that would require head coaches and assistant coaches of interscholastic or intramural sports to complete an education course on heat-related medical issues that could arise from a student athlete's training.  In 2009 a  Kentucky   coach faced reckless homicide and wanton-endangerment charges in connection with 15-year-old heat related death.  It was alleged that his players  were in full gear, and several of them  were denied water and told to keep running wind sprints -- called "gassers" -- in 94 degree heat, even after vomiting.  It was learned  that the boy who died was taking  amphetamine Adderall for an attention deficit disorder which affects the body's ability to thermal regulate.  The coach was acquitted by a jury in two hours, but yet another lesson was learned at the expense of a young boy.   In 2011  two football players and one coach died  after practice  in scorching temperatures.


Education and  hydration are the answer to ZERO deaths from heat stroke.

Stopping heat stroke deaths takes a combination of adequate hydration and coaches that understand  the causes and symptoms of heat stroke.  

The 1960's were the beginning of the educational process that still continues. The learning curve to eliminate heat stroke is still costing lives of many boys.   In 1962 we learned that the new plastic shoulder pads  did not allow  air ventilation and was the primary suspect in the deaths of  Mike and Reggie.  In 2009 we learned  that a prescription amphetamines combined with a strenuous workout could precipitate a heat stroke death.  In the decade of the 2000's the death rate due to heat stroke  rose for the first time in 40 years.  One of the reasons is now  due to the enormous size of the high school athletes.   Doctors state that  their  weight is more fat than  muscle and even if this athlete is hydrated  fat makes it harder for the body to dissipate heat and could cause heat stroke.  Quite frankly if Joe Good had played ball in  2018 instead of 1961 he  may still  have died.  

Research At the college level based on an ANNUAL SURVEY OF FOOTBALL INJURY RESEARCH  from 1931 - 2014  by  Kristen L. Kucera, MSPH, PhD, ATC Director, National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill the worst decades  for heat stroke were in the 60’s and 70’s.

1960’s- 42 deaths   1970’s – 31 deaths    1980’s – 14 deaths   1990’s – 14 deaths    2000’s -  29 deaths

From my perspective 56 years after Reggie's death and  Bill Littles positive comment that Reggies death meant that thousands and thousands have lived and Out of tragedy, he gave us all a gift" is still true but somewhat tainted by the lessons still not learned. From my perspective it is inexcusable for  one athlete to die from heat stroke in 2019. Shame on any  system that knows  the causes of  heat stroke, but refuses to follow protocol to prevent it.  Until  the system becomes more disciplined and educated  more preventable deaths of  young boys will continue and their  families will suffer the consequences.    


Billy Dale- Proud member of the 1967 football recruiting class. 


Mark Walters was a trainer for Augie Garrido: 


              I really enjoyed your article, and as we approach the summer months, the importance of keeping well hydrated has not always been in the forethought of our coaches in years past. The mid-60s was in an interesting time in sports science, where you had your traditional old school coaches like Royal, Bear Bryant, and Woody Hayes who kept with the tried and true coaching philosophy of no pain, no gain; going against advances in sports-science. The coaching models of the time often butted heads with sport-scientists who wanted to introduce medical based training models with the old guard but were often rebutted. 


              Where hydration is concerned, one of the forefathers is Robert Cade, a San Antonio native, and UT grad and medical school grad. Cade went on to become a professor at the University of Florida, and after doing research about dehydration with members of the Florida football team, he became a founding inventor of a product called Gatorade. 


              UT does a great deal of research in the field of sports-science. Where Gatorade is a high carbohydrate drink, Dr. Lisa Ferguson-Stegall at UT recently published a paper on a low-carb beverage with added protein that increases endurance times in cyclists. Dr. John Ivy, one of the nations top researchers has pioneered our understanding of muscle metabolism and how nutritional supplementation can improve exercise performance, recovery and training adaptation.  Where at one time there may have been a divisive line between coaches and those outside the direct control of the program, today there is a co-joined relationship that feeds off one another to make sure that the best product is put on the field every Saturday in the fall. 



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Spanky Stephens a former Longhorn has taken the lead in concussion guidelines in sports

Spanky Stephens who put together the team who wrote Natasha’s Law says “many do not realize that if a student continues to play with a concussion and receives a second head injury, there is a greater chance of severe brain damage or even death. “

“Natasha’s Law is just the beginning,” Stephens said, “and it has stimulated the need for more research."

Deuell, who is also a physician, said coaches, parents and student athletes could misunderstand the symptoms and impact of concussions. “We want to create guidelines for the people responsible for protecting the children — parents, coaches, trainers,” he said. “A lot of them have questions.”

The Texas Governor has signed the concussion legislation into law, it is called Natasha’s Law; named after Natasha Helmick a very strong advocate for this legislation.

We happened upon this legislative piece when we were examining the Illinois process, and felt it was very good and forward thinking.  The highlights again include;

  • Concussion Management Team

  • Removal from Play

  • Waiver and Graded Protocol to Return to Play

  • Specific Education/Training for all HCP’s

  • State Wide Tracking/Logging of Concussions

  • Texas is now the 21st state with enacted legislation.

Larry Webb (1968-1972) died on 2/3/19 in a hospital bed in the loving arms of his wife Mary Jane. Photos were taken in 2017.

You may have known that Larr had been suffering with CTE for the past 4 or 5 years. Really not able to leave his house, daily nausea, vertigo, and mental decline. He ultimately died from Renal Cell carcinoma and was in hospice since his diagnosis in October. Mary Jane had him at home until the Wednesday before his death. He was in tremendous pain up until his death so his passing was a blessing to him and MJ. His brain has already been sent to Boston for analysis and results will be available in about 6 months. His wife only asked for continuing prayers and I told her we could do that. Really going to miss Lawrence of Angleton, “Old Catfish Mouth”.

Dan Terwelp


A new brain injury lawsuit could be the undoing of college football as we know it

By Katherine Ellen Foley & Ephrat Livni June 11, 2018

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) dropped the ball when it came to protecting football players’ brains, argues the widow of a deceased player in a lawsuit about the neurodegenerative disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.

 Just a year after the National Football League (NFL) settled for $1 billion with the families of players who suffered brain damage, and after the college athletes’ league reached a settlement to provide free biannual medical screening for athletes, the NCAA will tackle the matter again publicly in a Texas civil court. But this time, the NCAA officials will have to testify in front of a jury. The trial, which begins today (June 11), will be the first time NCAA representatives will have to answer questions in court about brain injury, revealing just what they knew about CTE and the risks of playing football, how long they knew it, and whether they hid information about those dangers from college athletes.

The plaintiff in this case, Debra Hardin-Ploetz, is the widow of Greg Ploetz, a linebacker and defensive tackle for the University of Texas from 1968 to 1972. He never played professionally, but in 2015, after he died, neurologists from Boston University who examined his brain concluded that he had the most severe form of CTE, and that the disease is what killed him.

Although Ploetz stopped playing football after college, he experienced symptoms of CTE, including depression, aggression, and confusion shortly after graduation. Eventually, he lost the ability to communicate in full sentences, responding only “yes” and “no” to questions and requiring full-time care.

In 2017, Hardin-Ploetz sued the NCAA for over $1 million on two grounds, reports Sports Illustrated: First, for negligence generally, meaning that the NCAA did little to warn or protect players like Ploetz about CTE, while knowing the dangers of playing the sport and taking years of hits to the head. Second, for wrongful death, which is a negligence claim made by the victim of someone who is deceased and applies to Ploetz specifically.

The NCAA, for its part, argues that because Ploetz knew the dangers of playing a contact sport, it isn’t liable for his death.

At the time Ploetz played in the NCAA, the league had no public policies on managing head injuries and concussions, and no rules about what colleges had to tell players, according to a deposition (pdf) of Mary Elizabeth Wilfert, associate director of the NCAA Sport Science Institute.

Today, universities must have comprehensive plans to care for athletes who become concussed, including criteria for when players are allowed to return to practice, games, and the classroom. Each player must sign a waiver acknowledging that they understand that their particular sport puts them at risk of head injury. Football players must wear (pdf, p. 106) knee pads, shoulder pads, mouthguards, and helmets with a faceguard and chin strap that meet impact testing standards set by the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment. These helmets, too, must contain a warning label about the risks of obtaining head injuries.

Hardin-Ploetz’s attorneys have noted that it took the NCAA 12 years from the time they learned that mouthguards could help prevent concussions and other injuries to implement rules requiring the equipment. And that’s even when the recommendation to enforce mouthguard use had come from one of the NCAA’s own safety subcommittees. The attorneys say is this evidence the association wasn’t overly concerned with player safety.

The widow’s claims in this case are somewhat analogous to Big Tobacco cases. For decades, Big Tobacco hushed the scientific research showing that smoking does in fact cause lung cancer. Smokers may have suspected that their habit was dangerous, but companies were still found liable in the courts for failing to publicize science on the actual dangers. Similarly, the NFL for a long timed denied the link between playing football and developing CTE later in life, despite the fact that neuroscientists have known for many years that repeated hits to the head, and not just concussions alone, directly cause the neurodegenerative disease. Players may understand a contact sport is risky, but if an athletic association or league failed to disclose known risks and failed to take precautions that could have prevented harm, it can, arguably, still be held liable for negligence and CTE deaths, no matter what players knew.

The NCAA has tried to block Hardin-Ploetz at every turn in this case, fighting her lawyers’ requests to depose association doctors and generally trying to minimize discovery. The deposition testimony shows acrimonious and contentious exchanges, with NCAA attorneys objecting to many questions, and the widow’s legal team complaining they can’t get the answers or witnesses they need.

While the trial isn’t likely to be a friendly affair, all parties will have to play a more civil game. If the NCAA seems to be blocking questions or otherwise indifferent to the plight of players, jurors will probably not be happy with the association.

On the other hand, a jury of Texans—who famously love college football— might be wary of what Hardin-Ploetz’s claims could do to the beloved pastime. If she wins, more former players may bring their CTE cases to court—which may result in further testimony from the NCAA on the dangers of football-playing, and could eventually influence the way football is played at the collegiate level. This, in turn, could put pressure on the NFL to do the same.

Although it’s hard to speculate, one such change would be transforming the way players are allowed to tackle one another. According to an analysis of the 2015 to 2016 season, tackling was the number one cause of concussions during games, and most of them come from helmeted head slamming into bodies. Theoretically, barring cross-body tackling—where a defensive player runs at an offensive player sideways with his head and chest across the offensive players body—and a win for the widow of a CTE victim in court would certainly help that cause..

However, college and professional football are high-stakes sports. If spending time learning alternative tackles takes away a team’s competitive edge, it may ignore new rules or find work-arounds to allow its players to continue making the sports’ characteristic big hits.

Football has already dropped in popularity in recent years, and a win for the widow in this case isn’t likely to help. Some fans may resist any resulting changes to beloved football traditions, while others may see the case as one more reason to abandon the sport.

The San Antonio Express News article by Mike Finger   June 2, 2018  Pictures to Mike's article were added by Billy Dale .   Greg was my teammate and Julius was my roommate.  

This combination of photos provided by Boston University shows sections from a normal brain, top, and from the brain of former University of Texas football player Greg Ploetz, bottom, in stage IV of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. According to a report released on Tuesday, July 25, 2017 by the Journal of the American Medical Association, research on 202 former football players found evidence of a brain disease linked to repeated head blows in nearly all of them, from athletes in the National Football League, college and even high school. (Dr. Ann McKee/BU via AP) less


Mildred Whittier still has not made it to the inside of a courtroom. It has been four years since she filed a lawsuit against the NCAA on behalf of her trailblazing brother, who battles dementia almost five decades after he became the first black football letterman in Texas Longhorns history.

Still, she waits.


Zack Langston’s family is waiting, too. In 2014, the former Pittsburg State linebacker committed suicide at 26, leaving behind instructions to have his brain studied for evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. Now, his case against the NCAA has been folded into a class-action lawsuit potentially involving thousands of former players.

For all of those families, a resolution could be years away.

But a week from Monday, Debra Hardin-Ploetz will not have to wait anymore. On June 11, she is scheduled to appear in a Dallas courtroom, where her attorneys will argue that the NCAA is legally responsible for her husband’s death.

It will be the first time a CTE case ever has gone to trial in this country. And for the NCAA, it will mark the beginning of what could be a momentous stretch of legal tumult that could leave a lasting effect on the governing body whose original stated mission is “to keep college athletes safe.”

Later this year, the NCAA will have to defend its limits on compensation for student-athletes in a trial set for a California courtroom. That case, legal experts say, has the potential to upend the entire concept of amateurism in college sports.

But in many ways, the CTE trial in Dallas could wind up being just as significant. That case revolves around Greg Ploetz, who played football at UT in 1968, 1969 and 1971, and died in 2015.

According a clinical report cited in his wife’s lawsuit, Ploetz suffered a myriad of serious health problems throughout his life, and “became apathetic, disinhibited, exhibited compulsive behaviors, and his personal hygiene began to decline. He experienced paranoia and confusion, was psychiatrically hospitalized, and was in and out of respite homes due to aggressive behaviors.”

Neurologists at Boston University, who studied Ploetz’s brain after his death, concluded he suffered from stage IV CTE, the most severe version of the disease. Those same researchers recently published a study stating CTE was found in 99 percent of brains obtained from NFL players, 91 percent of college football players and 21 percent of high school football players.

With that link in mind, the most important question to be settled in the Ploetz trial is this:

To what extent should the NCAA be held responsible for protecting athletes?

When the jury provides its answer, the effect could be huge. In an interview with The Brookings Institution, Donna Lopiano, the former UT women’s athletic director and former CEO of the Women’s Sports Foundation, estimated that the NCAA could face “at least a billion dollars in concussion liability.”

To win her case, Hardin-Ploetz — who is represented by Houston attorney Eugene Egdorf — will need to prove the NCAA was negligent.

Michael McCann, a legal analyst for Sports Illustrated, broke down the keys to proving that argument like this:

“Hardin-Ploetz insists that, 1. the NCAA openly acknowledged a legal duty to minimize the risk of injury to Ploetz while he played college football; 2. Ploetz relied on the NCAA to satisfy this duty; and 3. the NCAA failed to meet the duty.”

The NCAA, of course, is likely to argue that college football players assume the risk of injury by voluntarily playing a physical sport, and that the governing body had no duty to protect players as extensively as the Ploetz lawsuit suggests.

But Egdorf will have plenty of evidence to suggest otherwise. According to Sports Illustrated, Hardin-Ploetz’s lawsuit cites a 1933 NCAA medical handbook recommending that concussed players be held out for 48 hours, which could suggest that the NCAA should have required safety measures even during Ploetz’s career.

The plaintiff also could bring up NCAA president Mark Emmert’s 2014 testimony before the U.S. Senate, when he said, “I will unequivocally state we have a clear moral obligation to make sure we do everything we can to protect and support student-athletes.”

Hundreds of families, from the Whittiers to the Langstons to all of those filling the class-action suits still pending, believe the NCAA did not meet that obligation. Many of them have been waiting a long time to make that argument.

In just a few days, they finally will get to hear someone make it for them.< Twitter: @mikefinger


INFORMATIONAL ONLY- The comments below are not endorsements by tlsn


On May 23, 2017, the Court issued a Scheduling Order which amended the timeline in the class action lawsuit called In re National Collegiate Athletic Association Student-Athlete Concussion Injury Litigation, Case No. 1:13-cv-09116 (N.D. Ill.). It is pending in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. 

This Scheduling Order can be viewed at the Settlement Website, and extends the deadline to request exclusion from or object to the Settlement to August 4, 2017, and rescheduled the Fairness Hearing for September 22, 2017, at 10 a.m. at the Everett M. Dirksen United States Courthouse for the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, 219 South Dearborn Street, Chicago, Illinois.

In re: NCAA Student-Athlete Concussion Injury Litigation, c/o Gilardi & Co. LLC, PO Box 43414, Providence, RI 02940-3414


Saw this last week about a young lady with a remarkable recovery.  This is the same group that Bob Lilly and others have treated with. 


 From Deb Ploetz

 Greg Ploetz and many more of our teammates have paid the ultimate price from football related concussions.  The organization below is seeking funding to continue research on how to lessen the impact of this contact injury on players who have CTE.

Article Written by Terry Frei for the Denver Post about CTE and Greg Ploetz death

Many..... still are shaken by the September 2013 death of , the charismatic Wishbone wizard and the father of former Rockies pitcher Huston Street. Street died of a heart attack. Also, James Saxton, the Texas running back who finished third in the 1961 Heisman Trophy voting (behind Syracuse’s Ernie Davis and Ohio State’s Bob Ferguson), passed away at age 74 last week after a long battle with dementia. At least one other prominent player in the Texas program from 1969-72 also is fighting dementia.

In communicating with Dale during this process, and telling him how much I respected how the LSG has responded to help Ploetz and other former Longhorns and their families, I mentioned that my father was the head coach at Oregon during that period, and I’ve been reminded again and again over the years about how the bonds between teammates — and between coaches and players — last. The latest was when three of my siblings and I were present as our father posthumously was honored at the Oregon spring game on May 3, tying it the military appreciation theme of the afternoon because he had been a decorated P-38 fighter pilot during World War II … and never allowed that to be included in his coaching biography. (He was an Army Air Forces contemporary of Ploetz’s father, Frederick Ploetz, the P-40 fighter pilot, also in the Pacific Theater.)

I feel comfortable with sharing what Dale wrote me about the teammates’ bonds issue:

“Bonding only occurs when the respect of a teammate is earned. We all respect each other. We struggled through the mental anguish of trying to be a starter for the Longhorns. We shared victories, losses, work-outs, fellowship, sorrow, pain, and joy together and now that most of us are entering the 4th quarter of our lives, we huddle again as a team to help each other. The teammate bond is not broken and the respect for each other remains years after our glory days at UT have ended.”

Greg Ploetz, Former Texas Football Player, Dies At Age 66

Questions are now being raised about the association of CTE to football head trauma. There are now scientific arguments that question CTE as the primary cause for head injury. Please see link below.

Article in Dallas Morning News- Kevin Sherrington  in 2015

Greg Ploetz hasn’t played a football game in more than 40 years, but the scar still shows. An undersized All-Southwest Conference defensive tackle at Texas, he earned it. A “warrior,” one teammate called him. Now, at 65, Ploetz couldn’t so much as handle the crowd noise at the Big Shootout. Conversation confuses him. Walking is sometimes terrifying. In his tortured mind these days, a crack in the floor looms like a leap across a deep, dark crevasse.

Ploetz — pronounced Plets — suffers from what neurologists call “mixed dementia,” the probable result of head trauma from his days as a 5-11, 205-pound lineman at Sherman High and Texas. Doctors can’t tell his wife, Deb, if he’s a victim of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE, the progressive degenerative brain disease linked with multiple concussions, harrowing news reports and a lawsuit against the NFL.

One of Greg’s last paintings while struggling with CTE signed by 285 DKR players

They won’t know for sure until after he’s dead. A year, maybe two.

If there’s any difference between Ploetz and the more than 4,000 plaintiffs in the NFL suit, it’s that he never played pro football. His last game was the ’72 Cotton Bowl, against Penn State.

Other than occasional financial assistance from former Texas teammates, no help is coming to the Ploetzes, as it may yet for the NFL plaintiffs. Texas isn’t liable. Neither is the NCAA. No union push by Northwestern can help them at this point, either.
At least 60 former college players with similar stories have filed lawsuits against the NCAA without success. Even if they’d cashed in, Deb wouldn’t have been a party to it.

“Greg chose to play football,” she says, “so I don’t really hold people liable for the choice he made.”

Talk to players of Ploetz’s generation, and this is the answer you get: I’d do it all over again.

Ploetz was no different until he realized just how different he is.

“Five years ago, he never wanted to recognize that football did this to him,” Deb says.

“The last two years, he stopped watching.”

Now he waits.

Ploetz is too young to die like this, for something he did in his youth, for honor he brought his school, his family, his memory. He didn’t understand the risk. No one of his generation did. If he played today, he’d have the benefit of concussion protocols and better health care. He could make an informed decision.

He might even be able to put it into words.

What do you do then with men like Greg Ploetz? Write it off as bad luck? Dismiss it as the Ploetzes’ problem? Call it a cautionary tale and leave it at that? Easy enough to do with these men, I suppose, until you hear one of their stories.

Ploetz chose football, not this: An artist, teacher and gentle soul kicked out of two memory care facilities and an adult day care center because of aggressive behavior. Darrell Royal once said he could depend on the size of Ploetz’s fight. Whatever else has been stripped from him, the fight remains.

The worst part is, before language and reason left him, he could see it coming.

“Deb, please help me,” he begged his wife. “I don’t want to live like this.”

Mike Dean has been inducted into the Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame and Longhorn Hall of Honor, but when Texas’ coaches came to Sherman his senior year, they were looking for Greg Ploetz.

Only 5-11 and 195 pounds in high school, thick in the neck and chest, son of a World War II fighter pilot, Ploetz was a “warrior,” Dean says. That mentality enabled him to start between Bill Atessis and Leo Brooks in Texas’ 1969 defensive line despite a hairline fracture in one ankle and the build of a short, squat safety.

"It’s a good feeling to have 257 pounds on one side of you,” Ploetz told The Dallas Morning News in the fall of ’69, “and 244 on the other.”

Ploetz more than held his own, particularly against the run. “He was a tackling machine,” says Dean, who started at offensive guard. “He’d run right through people.”

He was a classic ’60s paradox. A high school classmate, Dan Witt, called him quiet, wry, drawn to “artistic, iconoclastic, radical people and elements.” Julius Whittier, who in 1970 became the first black scholarship player at Texas, counted him among a handful of friends on the football team. Everyone liked Ploetz.

Probably didn’t hurt that he played so well. Ploetz was especially effective in the Big Shootout, recording six tackles in the win over Arkansas. It was nearly his last hurrah.

He sat out the ’70 season because he was academically ineligible, a byproduct of his girlfriend getting pregnant and the baby coming early.

“They didn’t know if he was going to make it,” Ploetz told Terry Frei in Horns, Hogs and Nixon Coming, “so I called Fred Bomar.”

Father Bomar baptized Chris Ploetz in the hospital. He was accompanied by Freddie Steinmark. The little Texas safety had already lost a leg to cancer and would die in 1971. Frei wrote that Ploetz couldn’t talk about his son, who survived the ordeal; the baptism; or Steinmark, Chris’ godfather, without choking up.

The summer of ’71, Ploetz was back in Austin, working his way through school, when Texas coaches recruited him again. He asked to sleep on it. That fall, he was All-SWC.

Other than the ankle injury, nothing on Ploetz’s chart hints at any problems to come. Deb says that, in high school, he once wandered to the wrong sideline. Teammates steered him to the huddle and his place in the line.

Greg Ploetz: More On Former Texas Longhorn Fighting Dementia In Colorado

Julius whittier by Millie Whittier

UT ex Julius Whittier battles Alzheimer's as his sister takes on the NCAA

Mike Finger Sep. 16, 2017 Updated: Sep. 16, 2017 8:33 p.m.

Mildred Whittier did not need to know.

Looking back on it, almost five decades later, she can appreciate her youthful naiveté as a gift of kindness from her big brother. She was only a sophomore at Highlands High School when Julius Whittier went off to college in Austin, and she had no idea he was doing anything out of the ordinary.

Julius was going to attend school, and he was going to play football. Simple as that.

Even if he understood everything that went along with integrating the Texas program and becoming the first black letterman in Longhorns history, there was no reason to tell his younger sister.

"I didn't understand the enormity," Mildred said. "The fact that he was the first African-American didn't move me one way or another. I wasn't caught up in him doing anything historic. He was just my brother."

Now, all of these years after he left his mark on the football field and in the courtroom, there is something Julius does not need to know. By not mentioning it, Mildred is returning a gift to him and keeping him unaware of another enormity.

Julius has Alzheimer's disease.

"I never can tell him that," Mildred said. "I don't think he has made the connection, that you have dementia, that you have Alzheimer's. He says he's forgetful. He says, 'I have to rely on my sister.' "

Pushing for change

In a way, others are depending on Mildred, too. In 2014, she filed a class-action lawsuit on Julius' behalf against the NCAA in U.S. District Court. The suit seeks up to $50 million in damages for players from 1960-2014 who did not go on to play in the NFL and who have been diagnosed with a latent brain injury or disease.

That case is separate from a proposed settlement in which the NCAA agreed to set aside $75 million for brain trauma research and testing for current and former athletes. But that settlement offers no financial compensation to injured players, and the goal of Mildred's lawsuit is to establish a fund for the supplemental needs of those suffering from the effects of brain trauma.

The lawsuit claims the NCAA "was fully aware of" and "concealed the dangers of" head impacts in football.

As Mildred watches how the 66-year-old Julius' mind has deteriorated, she remains convinced his days as an offensive lineman and tight end caused it.

"No doubt at all," Mildred said. "He continually spoke of how he was trained to block, using his head. For someone who was as brilliant and as vital as my brother, it's just sad. I've cried so much, I don't think I can cry anymore."

Mildred's cried with former colleagues and teammates of Julius who have stopped by the north Texas memory care facility where he now lives. She can tell he realizes he's supposed to know these old friends, but he doesn't, so he just smiles and laughs.

She has cried with Deb Ploetz, the widow of one of Julius' UT teammates. Two years ago, Greg Ploetz died at the age of 66, and was found to have been suffering from Stage 4 Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). Deb, who told the Denver Post her husband would have chosen never to play football "if he knew he would suffer and die like he did," filed a separate lawsuit against the NCAA last January.

"She wanted to stay in touch with Julius and stay in touch with me," Mildred said of Deb. "I think she needed somebody to relate to."

What Mildred and Deb understand is how brain conditions overwhelm not only the patients but also everyone who love them. It begins with a couple of troubling signs, and then a few sleepless nights, and eventually it becomes too much for a man or a woman or a family to bear on its own.

A quick descent

For Mildred, it started in 2012, when the leadership team of Julius' law firm asked her to attend a meeting. He had been in private practice for more than two decades following his stint as a Dallas County assistant district attorney.

He was only 61 at the time, a year away from his long overdue induction into the Longhorns' Hall of Honor. The memories of his days at UT, where as a freshman in 1969 he dealt with the often-difficult circumstances of becoming a racial pioneer and then earned his historic varsity letter in 1970, were still vivid.

But other parts of his mind were slipping, and his fellow attorneys noticed. He would drive to a lunch or a meeting, and wasn't sure where he was supposed to go after that. His bosses told Mildred it might be best if he stepped away from the job.

For a while, Julius continued to live at his home in Oak Cliff, not far from Mildred's work as a systems analyst for the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. She would stop by to eat lunch with him every day, and before long she was attending to some of his hygienic needs, too.

"He started to wander," Mildred said. "He was not able to cook on his own safely, manage himself. I suspected (Alzheimer's) but I didn't want to face up to it. Telling a brother that has been so full of vitality his whole life, it was not easy for me."

Then came a fire at Julius' home, and Mildred used that as a reason to get him to see a doctor. She told him he'd been through a lot of trauma and needed to get "checked up."

He agreed, reluctantly, and Mildred's fears were confirmed. He had early-onset Alzheimer's, and things were only going to get worse.

For a while Julius lived with her in Plano, but in 2016 he moved to the memory care facility. One of his former UT teammates, who has visited the home but asked not to be identified because of the pending lawsuit, confirmed Julius no longer recognizes him.

For the future

Mildred believes this can be prevented. She says one of the main reasons for her suit is because "football is big-time, and we have to do what we can to make sure more people don't suffer through this."

When she filed the suit, Julius knew about it, and was all for it. She says he told her he was glad to be in a position to address the problem, and hopefully to find a solution for those who followed him.

He is not aware of the legal proceedings anymore, though. He does not realize he is suffering from a terrible, cruel disease. Medication keeps him drowsy most of the time, and Mildred says his spirits seldom get lifted.

"I am so happy to say that when he sees me, he lights up," she said. "But then he starts crying. Deep down inside, he understands he might be missing something."

He does not need to know what it is.

Only the rest of us do.