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My first Journey up Lost Mine Trail In Big Bend National Park occurred in April 1966 followed by another climb in April 2016. the epiphany I experienced 50 years after my initial ascent has changed me forever.     The photos below represent a chronological snapshot of special moments in my life from 1965 through 2016.

Each of us has special moments in life that forever change us. One of those moments for me was in 1966 when my parents allowed me to climb the Lost Mine Trail in Big Bend National Park without adult supervision. In retrospect , it was an important moment in my journey to adulthood.

In 2006 I was stricken with a non-life threatening disease that for 9 years sapped me of my energy and appetite.  By January of 2015 I was left with only one surgical option for recovery. If the surgery was unsuccessful, there were no other medical options available to enhance my quality of life. Fortunately, the surgery was a success! 

Now in good health, a song by Tim McGraw titled “Live Like You are Dying” changed my vision of who I am into who I should be. After a year of rehabilitation, I was ready to test my return to good health and ascend Lost Mine Trail 50 years after my first ascent was the challenge. The round trip hike is listed at 3 hours. In 1966 I ran most of the way and completed the ascent and descent in two hours. In 2016 the trip took 5 hours with many stops in which I was bent over hands to knees.

This anniversary adventure began at 5:00 A.M. on April 3rd, 2016 with a drive to Fort Davis to see Glen Halsell - a friend since the 8th grade. Glen was an All American and Captain of both the 1965 State High School Champion Permian Panthers and the 1969 National Champion Texas Longhorns. During our visit, we shared a few stories and then said goodbye with a hug that reflected our mutual respect, common bond, and shared experiences. As we parted ways my belief that life has little meaning without family and friends was re-confirmed.

Two hours later at 1:15 P.M. I started my journey up the Lost Mine Trail. I use the word “journey” because this hike included some unexpected symbolic overtones that forever changed my perspective of life.

 3 hours into the ascent and 15 minutes from the top a 14-year-old boy ran passed me. I said to him in jest “‘hey slow down- don’t you know you are in a school zone?” He smiled at me, and he said “I want to see how fast I can run the circuit.” I smiled at him and said “50 years ago I completed the round trip in two hours.”. He was oblivious to my comment, but as I watched him continue his climb I shed a few tears of joy remembering my special running ascent 50 years ago.

When I reached the top, the young boy was sitting on a rock.

 

I asked him what happened to his race against time? He said “I decided to enjoy the view and to wait for my mom and dad and to share this moment with them.” We spent 30 minutes talking to each other, and the more we talked the more impressed I was with his maturity. When his family arrived he climbed down from the rock to greet them, and I took the opportunity to ask him to take my picture.

Summit April 3rd 2016 50 year anniversary of my first climb in 1966 when I was 6 years of age. A moment of reflection about my life journey.

While you see my image, you can’t see the epiphany that touch my soul as the camera clicked.

It was a “stop and smell the roses” moment. For a split second, I saw the world thru his eyes -not mine- and I was full of hope and optimism for the future. This young boy started the day in a race against time, but decided to end the day by preserving a special moment with loved ones. A choice of family over personal goals is an important decision for an adult to make but to witness this 14 year old boy's decision encouraged me to continue to see life thru his eyes.

I started up the mountain to complete a personal challenge, but I walked down the mountain with more altruistic goals. A passion to deliver this young boys message of love, family, and hope for the future.

The Lost Mine trail once again has impacted my life. In 1966 it was my pathway to adulthood, and in 2016 it was my pathway to enlightenment.

Billy Dale – proud member of the 1967 football recruiting class at the University of Texas.

And finally a new journey in retirement to finish the 4th quarter of life. Giving back all the blessings I have received.

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Chairman Benny Pace

November 2017 Chairman Benny Pace and CEO and President Billy Dale toasting the completion process of the TLSN 501 (C) (3). TLSN mission is to both charitable and historical. Texas Legacy Support Network is building a bridge from the past to support the the present and inspire the future of our Great University. Horns Up!

 

                           

                                

 Memories of a Sub-Four Minute Miler By Ricardo Romo

July 30, 2019

Today, fifty-three years ago--almost to the day-- I became the first Texan to run a mile under four minutes. What I didn’t know at the time was that only 18 Americans had ever accomplished that feat. I have been asked many times about writing about that achievement and up to now, I had not given it much thought. Then I realized that I spent thousands of hours training to excel in an event that took me less than four minutes to complete. Was it worth such an expenditure of time and effort? And would I recommend others to try it? Yes-- here is my story.

In 1960, at age 16, (when everyone called me Richard) I finished 5th in the state track competition with a 4:30 mile time, a respectable time for a 10th grader. By my senior year in high school I had improved my time significantly. My 4:10 mile was one of the fastest ever by a U.S. high school runner.

Three state championships earned me a track scholarship at the University of Texas Austin. UT Austin had great academic programs and one of the finest track programs in the nation. I started college with three goals: To run a sub-four minute mile; to graduate from The University of Texas; and to earn All-American honors in Track and Field.

At UT Austin I was fortunate to have Pat Clohessy, a former runner at the University of Houston and U.S. champion in the 5,000 meters. Clohessy came to UT to earn his Masters’ degree and was offered a graduate assistant position in the track program. He served as my distance coach and mentor. Clohessy trained with us daily throughout my freshman and sophomore year and his mentoring paid off. In the summer of 1963 I improved my mile time to 4:05 in a track meet in Wales, British Isles. I came in second but defeated two of England’s top Olympic runners. It was the fastest mile time for a freshman in the United States. I was on my way.

A serious track injury in an indoor track meet in Fort Worth in February of 1965 nearly ruined my track ambitions. As I started the 1,000 yard run, I felt a sharp pain in my left ankle. We were running indoors on a dirt track and thus everyone used regular long spikes. A spike from the runner behind me caught my ankle and served my tendon. I felt the pain, but since I was in the lead, I decided to finish the race.

I crossed the finish line in first place, but I left blood dripping from the back of my shirt. It was a serious injury and it required three months to cure the infection in my leg related to the dirt field. My surgery went well and after four months I resumed my training--albeit quite slowly. I was not certain if the injury would hamper my full development as a primer runner. By December I was back in top shape. I had lost the 1965 track season, but felt lucky to be competing again.

My preparation for a sub-four minute mile required superb conditioning and being at the right track meet at the right time. I was living in Texas, but in the 1960’s our state shut down most of its competitive track meets over the summer. Everyone agreed that California offered the best opportunity for competitive meets on a weekly basis and possibilities for fast times.

In the summer of 1966, I spent the summer in California with the expressed goal of running a sub-four minute mile. Two friends made the transition to running in California possible for me. First, Gene Comroe, a UCLA trackman who hailed from Dallas and competed in the same Texas state and regional high school meets with me assisted by providing a spare bedroom for me over that summer. Comroe was a member of the Southern California Striders, a track club that included the UCLA middle distance star, Bob Day. Day was a sub-four minute miler and a world class runner at 800 meters.

Comroe and Day introduced me to Atis “Pete” Peterson, the Striders’ distance coach. Peterson’s famous motto was “Run for Fun,” and many of our workouts over the summer of 1966 were exactly that. Peterson trained Bob Day and Ted Nelson, a former Canadian middle distance star and the American indoor record holder for 1,000 yards. Not long after meeting Nelson, he and I both decided that we would add extra speed training to our practice to prepare us for a sub-four minute mile.

Two events prepared me personally for my sub-four minute mile in 1966. While it has been more than 50 years ago, I remember the events quite clearly. In June of 1966 I competed in the San Monica Invitational meet which featured Cary Weisiger, a former Duke star miler with a best time of 3:56.6. I ran well that day and beat Weisiger by more than ten yards. I knew then that my training was paying off.

On July 17, 1966 I had my second opportunity to assess my readiness for a sub-four minute mile. I had been invited to the Berkeley Invitational where I learned that Jim Ryun would attempt to break the world record of 3:53.6 set by Michel Jazy in 1965. I had competed against Jim Ryun numerous times, defeating him once in May of 1964. Two months later, he improved his time and finished third in the U.S. Olympic trials, which earned him a trip to the Olympics in Tokyo.

Ryun’s plans were to run a 3:52 mile or better. To do so, he wanted a 58.0 first quarter. Tom Von Ruden delivered with a 57.7 quarter. I took over with a goal of running a 1:56 first half. I felt comfortable and got to the half mile in 1:55.5. It was a bit fast, but the first quarter had also been fast. I remember that the crowd started cheering when the half time was announced. They knew that Ryun had a shot at a 3:50 mile.

Wade Bell took over from me and led Ryun to 2:55.3 at the third quarter, definitely on world record pace. Ryun always had a great kick and everyone expected that he would run 57 flat or better in the last quarter. He did indeed and his 55.0 seconds last quarter brought him to the finish line at a world record 3:51.3. Ryun had broken the world record by more than two seconds, a highly improbable feat.

I was exhausted at the three quarters mark, but decided to hang on and, as a consequence I finished third in the race. I learned soon that I had managed a highly respectable time of 4:01.4, one of my fastest times ever. Weisiger, who paced himself carefully, finished second with a 3:58.0 effort. It occurred to me minutes after finishing that if Weisiger, whom I had beaten two weeks earlier, could run a 3:58 mile, so could I.

Great distance runners build up their endurance and speed over many years. Every world record holder has done it differently. Roger Bannister trained religiously, but did so while studying for a medical career. Herb Elliott trained three or more times a day and seemed to live only for setting world records. When Ryun set the world record he was a 20 year old college student and the youngest ever to be a world record holder in the middle distance.

After the Berkeley mile, I returned to Los Angeles to continue my training. Bob Day, a 3:56 miler often joined me and other runners for afternoon and weekend runs. Pete Peterson thought I was ready for a sub-four effort and selected an invitational meet in the San Fernando Valley for me to compete in August.

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Ricardo Romo from dishwasher, to Longhorn sub- 4 miler to President of the University of Texas San Antonio.

On the day of the race, I took the day off from my job at the Century Plaza Hotel. To pay my bills I was busing dishes and washing drink glasses. That summer the job market was tight and I felt lucky to find work that did not interfere with my training. I rested all day and left two hours early for the track meet.

Ted Nelson and I agreed that we would push each other to run an even pace of 60 seconds per quarter. We were both excellent kickers and felt confident that we could finish the last quarter under 60 seconds. All went as planned. We were dead even with 300 yards to go when I began to accelerate. My time of 3:58.8 was more than I had expected. Nelson finished ten yards back with an excellent 3:59.5 effort.

Important and memorable accomplishment are often done with the help of others--in some cases many individuals. Over many years I trained with other teammates and received excellent advice on how to prepare. I quickly learned that distance running also requires discipline and over the years I learned to push myself while setting reasonable expectations.

For me, all that training paid off on a cool August evening when I became the 19th American to run a sub-four mile. While I thought I might have run faster, I was humbled to know that my 3:58.8 was the 7th fastest ever by an American and surpassed the best of any Texas or South American runner. My friends often remind me that my mile time also made me the first Texan and first Hispanic to run a sub-four minute mile.

My record stood for 40 years and I was pleased that when it was broken, it was by a fine UT Longhorn runner by the name of Leonel Manzano.

Manzano broke my record by less than two seconds, but went on that year to win a silver medal in the Olympics.

For more about Ricardo Romo visit the T-Ring Reflection section for “Track”

THE NAVIGATION TOOL TO THE HISTORICAL  PAGES ON THIS WEB SITE ARE AT THE TOP OF THIS SCREEN. THE SITES ARE  "TLSN", "SPORTS", "GUEST WRITERS", "MISSIONS", "ARTICLES" , "LOST TOO SOON", AND "SENTRY".

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Donna Lopiano a Longhorn sports Pioneer 

All University administrations are slow to accept change. It took UT 50 years for Texas to accept the fact that women could tolerate  physical punishment in competitive sports. Because of  the slow movement of change, pioneers deserve to be judged by a different set of standards. Success for pioneers may not be evident for 20 to 30 years making short term judgments of their accomplishments problematic.

By definition, Pioneers are risk takers and without them there is no beginning. Sports pioneers use vision, insight, resolve, and many other intangibles to excel. They are able to successfully implement new ideas, record a first in sports history , and/or remove obstacles that others could not master. 

In addition to dealing with the same problems that all administrators face in a athletic departments, sports pioneers must contend with the major obstacles inherent in changing or creating a new program.  Pioneers are restrained by small budgets, the ebb and flow of recruiting, and turf wars with other competing sports programs within the athletic department. 

While men overcame many obstacles to qualify as a pioneer in sports, women overcame more. Before a woman could be acknowledged as an athlete, Athletic Director,  or coach they had to first secure equal rights- ask Donna Lopiano.

Tessa Nichols states that in the early years of the 20th century  women's sports were "circumscribed by gender norms and restrictive ideologies which delineated the acceptable ways in which women could perform in sports".  During those years "excessive" competition for woman was considered too "masculine". To eliminate the masculine aspect of sports the physical educators of this period decried record setting and personal athletic glory. The goal of Women's sports "aimed to ensure that the health and educational best interest for their women students were sacrosanct". 

It was not until the 1950's that a movement started that would  eventually correct many of the the bias's inculcated into the fiber of our society.  Sports led the way in this renaissance, and "nothing in moderation" Donna Lopiano led the charge. Lopiano was a "ardent feminist" who fought for equal rights for women at a university that was dominated by a successful men's program. Aided by Title IX, the civil rights movement, and a take no prisoner leadership style, Donna Lopiano was the right hire at the right time in the history of  Longhorn women's sports.   

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Donna Lopiano was able to harness women's sports as a venue to enhance women's rights in other forums.

Lopiano  corrected many of the gender inequalities that separated the men's program from the women's program including coaching salaries, dining hall access, and use of  the  training facilities.

Tessa Nichols' Master of Arts thesis titled ORGANIZATIONAL VALUES AND WOMEN'S SPORTS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS 1918-1992 captures all the leadership skills of Lopiano.  Tessa's says that  Donna Lopiano built a successful Longhorn Women's Athletic Department by establishing: 

  • a performance team;

  • student athlete counseling services;

  • a psychological support system;

  • addressing health problems of the student athletes;

  • a commitment to the student athletes welfare; and

  • the creation of the Neighborhood Longhorns.

 

1975-1992  "Nothing in Moderation" Donna Lopiano makes her feelings known

 

1975 - the Master teachers

Lorene Rogers, The President of the University of Texas, accepted the Advisory committee on Intercollegiate Athletics for Women recommendation to hire Donna Lopiano. The committee stated that Donna's energy, strong vision, and dynamic intellect convinced them that Lopiano was the right person for the job.  

Donna Lopiano's budget is $128,000 with 28 scholarship offers .

   

Donna Lopiano was long term goal oriented.

One of her first long term goals  was to hire full time coaches instead of using teachers who coached on the side.   She envisioned coaches as "Master Teachers". She believed that "athletics was not separate from education, but intimately connected" The word "Master" referred to the coaches as the very best in the sport they taught,  and the word "Teacher" stressed the need for coaches  to possess a sound "personal educational philosophy".  By 1982 all of the Coaches in the Women's Athletic Department  were full time employees and each coach was ranked in  the top 10 in the country  in their respective sports.

The second long term goal  was to move the Longhorns from regional competition to national competition with a focus of playing at least 6 national ranked teams every season. 

The third Long term goal was to fund the maximum number of scholarships as designated by the organizational rules.

The fourth long term goal was to achieve an "exemplary graduation rate"  of no less than 95%. (Many parts of Lopiano's successful student academic model were adopted by the men's program in 2007.) 

 

 

 

 

Donna Lopiano

Unlike Anna Hiss, Donna Lopiano believed that  a  sports organization structure could be created that valued winning, education, and student-athlete welfare.  Tessa Nichols states that Lopiano believed she could balance all of these factors and have great athletes and teams.  The transformation of her convictions  and long term goals into  reality are apparent.

Donna's 17 years as the Women's Athletic Director for Texas is unparalleled in College football history. 

  • One National Champion, 8 conference champions, and 8 tournament champions in basketball;

  • Six conference champions in golf;

  • Three indoor national champions, 2 outdoor national champions, 8 indoor conference champions, and 7 out door champions in track;

  • Eleven conference champions and one national champion in volleyball;

  • Nine national champions and 10 conference champions in swimming;

  • One 1 national champion in cross country;

  • One runner up to the national championship , one semi-final appearance, and 8 conference champions in Tennis, and a

  • 93%+ graduation rate.

Note: Softball, soccer,and rowing were not NCAA sports during Lopiano years as Athletic Director

 

 

1980- The departments budget Grows to $850,000

The funding for the department was derived from external and internal sources:

  • Internal- Auxiliary ventures such as royalties from the sale of Longhorn merchandise, and voluntary student athletic fees;

  • External- Independent sources which included private donors, The Fast Break Club, scholarship endowments, and gate receipts.

 

By 1987 the Women's Athletic budget was 2.8 million

 

 By 1992 the Women's Athletic budget was  4.2 million dollars. 

 

 

 

More information on Donna Lopiano to follow.

THE NAVIGATION TOOL TO HISTORICAL  PAGES ON THIS WEB SITE ARE AT THE TOP OF THIS SCREEN. THE SITES ARE  "TLSN", "SPORTS", "GUEST WRITERS", "MISSIONS", "ARTICLES" , "LOST TOO SOON", AND "SENTRY".

Click on the content for other football subjects denoted in red font on the panel to the left

 

A great story of triumph over adversity surviving a German concentration camp that leads to a historical mark in football that can never be duplicated.  Edited for the TLSN site by Billy Dale

http://www.roadrunnerpictures.com/portfolio/the-kicker/

 Sherrington FROM THE dALLAS MORNING NEWS SAYS “often overlook, Texas Bednarski is the true pioneer of soccer-style kick”.

Kevin Sherrington Follow @KSherringtonDMNksherrington@dallasnews.com Published: 08 December 2012 10:09 PM

Whether it’s a Rotary Club or a confederation of coaches or just a sportswriter calling, Fred Bednarski likes talking about the immigrant experience.
First, though, you have to understand where he came from. First the Soviets invaded and then the Nazis. One day, little Fred got in a cattle car and woke up in Austria........................................................
Fred had played a lot of soccer while at the DP camp, and he didn’t see why the shape of a ball should matter. No one had ever seen a kicker come at a football from a 45-degree angle before. No one in college or the pros did it, and certainly no one at Fred’s junior high.
He eventually walked on at Texas, where he sent kickoffs high and deep. Because of strict substitution rules and conservative times, he didn’t attempt a field goal until his junior year.
Even as Fred lined up a 40-yarder on Oct. 19, 1957, in Fayetteville, Ark., the Razorbacks didn’t believe it.
“Fake! Fake! Fake!” yelled Arkansas’ little safety, Fred Akers.
Darrell Royal fooled the man who would one day succeed him at Texas. The kick was one of the longest in SWC history at the time.
Bednarski never made another field goal. History was made, however. Pete Gogolak, a Cornell kicker who played in the NFL, usually gets the credit, but research by the Washington Times concluded that Bednarski’s kick was the first, college or pro, done soccer style.
Audiences have a hard time believing Bednarski’s story, but, as they say, you could look it up.........................................

 CHEERS ERUPT FROM HIS TEAMMATES IN THEIR COLORFUL, MATCHING TEAM JERSEYS AND SHORTS AND IN THE GRANDSTAND NO ONE CHEERS LOUDER OR MORE ECCLESIASTICALLY THAN FRED BEDNARSKI AS HE JUMPS TO HIS FEET IN CELEBRATION AT THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF HIS 8 YEAR-OLD GRAND-SON MILES AT HIS SATURDAY YOUTH SOCCER GAME, MILES LOOKS UP FROM FIELD LEVEL ABOVE THE FENCE AND SPIES HIS GRANDFATHER CLAPPING AND CALLING OUT TO HIM "WAY TO GO , SON!" 

 HIS MOTHER IS NOT THERE TO SEE THE JOY, AS SHE IS HUDDLED ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE CAMP IN THE COLD BARRACKS WHERE FRED AND HIS FATHER LIVE WITH HER, AND HIS YOUNGER SISTER LUCY AND HIS BELOVED LITTLE BROTHER JOSEPH. THE BEDNARSKI FAMILY'S LIFE HAS LITTLE JOY ; THEY BARELY SURVIVE THE LACK OF FOOD AND THEIR SURROUNDINGS ARE HARSH AND MINIMAL. THEY HAVE NO POSSESSIONS; ONLY THE CLOTHES ON THEIR BACK.  BUT THEY HAVE A TREMENDOUS AMOUNT OF DEVOTION TO EACH OTHER, AND FAITH.

   

EVERY NIGHT ENDS THE SAME, AS THE ENTIRE FAMILY GETS ON THEIR KNEES AND RECITES THE LORD'S PRAYER.......... IF ONE DAILY ACT DEFINES THE BEDNARSKI'S IT IS THE RECITATION OF THIS PRAYER. THEY BELIEVE IT, AND THEY BELIEVE THAT THEY WILL BE DELIVERED FROM THE EVIL FORCES THAT HAVE UPROOTED THEM FROM THE VILLAGE IN OCCUPIED POLAND WHERE THEY WERE LOADED INTO CATTLE CARS ON THE TRAIN THAT HAS TAKEN THEM TO AUSTRIA NEARLY 1,000 MILES AWAY.

 

 AFTER THE GRUELING TRAIN TRIP, THE POLISH VILLAGERS WERE UNLOADED ONTO THE SNOWY PLATFORM. IMMEDIATELY SIRENS RANG OUT.  IT WAS AN AIR RAID, AND ALL WERE HERDED INTO A SHELTER JUST AS THE BOMBS STARTED DROPPING. PEOPLE CRIED AND PRAYED AND HELD ON TO EACH OTHER AS THEY ALL REALIZED THEIR LIVES WOULD NEVER BE THE SAME IF THEY LIVED AT ALL.

*******************************************************************************

 

Fred has grown into a powerfully built, handsome young man. He takes off his football helmet, beams as he proudly adjust the shoulder pads of his burnt orange, University of Texas longhorn uniform and places his hand over his heart and proudly, if not somewhat out of key, sings the National Anthem. ",,,,O'ER THE LAND OF THE FREE........". these words echo in his head as he looks around at the 65,000 fans including his motter, father, brother Joe and sisters Lucy and julie, are all cheering on his team.  

His mind snaps back to that day in 1945 when American soldiers freed the camp where his family had been held for nearly two tortuous years.  He hears the cheers of the liberated. American soldiers as they hand out boots and foot rations. They are overjoyed at helping the interred gain their freedom;they even hug and kiss the children! Families, cried, cheered and danced with joy. Children ran with glee shouting "we are going to be free!" "We are going home!"

But home would never be the same, as their village was incorporated into the Soviet Union at the war's end. The Bednarski's would never live there again.  The family spent the next three years living in a displaced persons camp waiting for the chance to come to America and praying for that day every night with the whole family on bended knees reciting the Lord's prayer. 

THOSE PRAYERS WERE ANSWERED IN LATE 1949 WHEN THE ENTIRE FAMILY BOARDED THE GENERAL STURGIS, a US army TRANSPORT SHIP AND SAILED TO ELLIS ISLAND.

 " America ! The land of the free, and the home of the brave! We are home now and we will live in freedom." says Ferdynand Bednarski in broken English as the Statue of Liberty comes into view from THE deck of the Sturgis.  "our new life is now beginning!" 

 

FOOTBALL HAD ALWAYS BEEN FRED'S REFUGE IN AMERICA.  MR. BUMS THE DAIRY OWNER AND THE FAMILY'S SPONSOR HAD TAKEN FRED TO A SMITHVILLE HIGH SCHOOL GAME, WHEN THE BEDNARSKI'S FIRST MOVED TO HIS FARM. FRED DIDN'T UNDERSTAND THIS GAME PLAYED WITH AN OBLONG BALL OR EVEN MUCH ENGLISH, BUT HE WAS FASCINATED BY THE RECKLESS ABANDON OF THE PLAYERS. A FEW YEARS LATER AFTER HIS FAMILY HAD MOVED TO AUSTIN, HE WOULD WATCH THE BOYS PLAY FOOTBALL ON THE PLAYGROUND AND WAS DELIGHTED WHEN HIS SCHOOL MATES URGED HIM TO PLAY TOO.

FRED GREW STRONG AND HE WAS FAST. FOOTBALL WAS A NATURAL FOR HIM AND HE COULD NOT WAIT FOR THE DAY'S CLASSES TO BE OVER SO HE COULD GET OUT ON THE PRACTICE FIELD. HE LOVED PLAYING AND ESPECIALLY LOVED KICKING THE BALL. HE WAS A MARVEL AND KICKED OFF, PUNTED AND KICKED EXTRA POINTS WITH HIS UNIQUE STYLE IN JUNIOR HIGH, ALWAYS TO THE BEWILDERMENT OF THE OTHER TEAM AND MUCH TO THE DELIGHT OF THE FANS, HIS COACHES AND FELLOW PLAYERS.  HIS FIRST COACH TRIED TO KICK THE FOOTBALL LIKE FRED AND DAMN NEAR DISLOCATED HIS HIP. YEARS LATER DARRELL ROYAL TOLD HIS COACHES, "NOBODY MESS WITH BEDNARSKI. I DON'T KNOW HOW HE DOES IT, BUT LET'S NOT SCREW IT UP!"

 

* * * * * * * * * * *

AS FRED RUNS ONTO THE FIELD, KICKING TEE IN HAND, COACH DARRELL ROYAL PATS HIS SHOULDER AND SAYS, "KNOCK 'ER OUT OF THE BACK OF THE END ZONE, LIKE YOU ALWAYS DO BEDNARSKI!" THE COACH IS IN HIS FIRST YEAR AT TEXAS, BUT WITH HIS MATINEE IDOL GOOD-LOOKS AND MAGIC TOUCH WITH PLAYERS, HE IS ON HIS WAY TO BECOMING ONE OF THE ALL-TIME GREATS IN THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL COACHING RANKS.

 WHEN ROYAL HAD ARRIVED IN AUSTIN THE PREVIOUS SPRING, FRED WAS THE ONLY LONGHORN PLAYER HE KNEW MUCH ABOUT. AS THE COACH OF THE UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON, HE HAD SENT A SCOUT TO AUSTIN TO WATCH TEXAS PLAY THE USC TROJANS, THE HUSKIES' NEXT OPPONENT. IN A STAFF MEETING, ALL THE SCOUT COULD TALK ABOUT WAS  THIS TEXAS KICKER HE HAD SEEN THAT MADE FIELD GOAL, AFTER FIELD GOAL ASTONISHINGLY FROM 50 YARDS AND BEYOND DURING WARM-UPS.

PLUS, EVERY TIME THE LONGHORNS KICKED OFF THE BALL SAILED THROUGH THE END ZONE.  "AND GET THIS COACH," THE SCOUT SAID, "..THE GUY LINES UP WAY BEHIND THE BALL AND FIVE YARDS TO THE SIDE AND  USES THE INSIDE OF HIS SHOE LIKE A SIDE-WINDER! NEVER SEEN NOTHING LIKE IT!" 

 "WE AIN'T PLAYING TEXAS OR THEIR KICKER, HOWEVER HE DOES IT.  TELL ME SOMETHING ABOUT USC!" ROYAL HAD DEMANDED.

IN THE FIFTH GAME OF THE 1957 SEASON TEXAS WAS PLAYING THE #10 RANKED UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS WHEN ROYAL SENT FRED ONTO THE FIELD TO MAKE AMERICAN FOOTBALL HISTORY.  THE LONGHORNS FACED A FOURTH DOWN AND FOUR FROM THE ARKANSAS 30-YARD LINE. "MAKE IT, SON," ROYAL YELLED OUT AS FRED SET THE KICKING TEE DOWN ON THE HASH MARK AT THE 37-YARD LINE. HE TOOK TWO STEPS BEHIND THE BALL AND THEN TOOK THREE PACES TO THE SIDE OF THE BALL AND READIED HIMSELF.  "TRICK PLAY!  WATCH FOR THE FAKE!" THE ARKANSAS COACHES AND PLAYERS WERE MYSTIFIED. "WHAT THE HELL IS THIS GUY DOING?" THEY WONDERED AS THE BALL WAS SNAPPED. FRED TOOK THREE BIG STEPS PARALLEL TO THE LINE OF SCRIMMAGE, THEN PLANTED HIS LEFT FOOT AND WHIPPED HIS RIGHT LEG AROUND AND STRUCK THE BALL WITH THE INSTEP OF HIS SHOE.  

THWACK!

THE PIGSKIN EXPLODED OFF OF HIS FOOT, HIGH AND TRUE AND EASILY SPLIT THE UPRIGHTS 37 YARDS AWAY. FRED HAD JUST KICKED THE THIRD LONGEST FIELD GOAL IN SOUTHWEST CONFERENCE HISTORY AND HIS NAME INTO THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL RECORD BOOKS AS SCORING THE FIRST FIELD GOAL EVER, SOCCER-STYLE. THE CROWD AND THE ARKANSAS PLAYERS WERE STUNNED . FRED RAN TO THE SIDE LINES YELLING AND JUMPING FOR JOY IN THE ARMS OF HIS COACH, WHO SAID, "CALM DOWN SON, YOU GOTTA GO KICK-OFF FOR US NOW!"

 

 

 

AND THE TOP SONG IN 1957 IS

 

 

 

 

Fred Bednarski: Amazing Life of a Holocaust Survivor, Football Innovator

Posted on January 29, 2011 by Jeff Nixon

About Jeff Nixon

Jeff was a first team consensus All-American from the University of Richmond in 1978. He is 7th in NCAA history with 23 career interceptions. Played for the Buffalo Bills 1979-1984. Led the team with 6 interceptions in Rookie Year. Holds Bills record for 4 takeaways in a single game - 3 interceptions and a fumble recovery. Tied Bills record with four consecutive games with an interception. After 5 knee surgeries Jeff retired from pro football in 1985. He worked for 13 years (1988-2000) as the Youth Bureau Director for Buffalo and Erie County. He has worked for the past 11 years as the Youth Employment Director for Buffalo. Plays guitar and was voted best R&B guitar player by Buffalo Nightlife Magazine in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

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Fanhouse – January 26 2011 By Chris Harry Senior NFL Writer

 

Fred Bednarski

AUSTIN, Texas — In the 1950s, field goals in college football were rarer sights than even facemasks, so the University of Arkansas defense immediately was suspicious that fall afternoon in Fayetteville when one of its biggest rivals, Texas, began lining up for a surprisingly long field-goal attempt in the first quarter.

Razorbacks safety Fred Akers figured something fishy was in the works as he watched Longhorns fullback Fred Bednarski move into kicking formation. Akers quickly sounded the alarm when Bednarski not only backed away from his holder, but did so at a diagonal angle.

It was an entirely different look to the single wing — with the holder kneeling behind the center — and thus set off all the familiar alarms.

FAKE! FAKE! FAKE!

IT’S A PASS!

WATCH FOR THE END AROUND!

And watch everybody did, as the ball was snapped, placed and Bednarski kicked the first soccer-style field goal in either college or pro football, stepping in from 45 degrees and bombing a 40-yarder that kick-started the Longhorns to a 17-0 upset of the 10th-ranked Hogs.

The year was 1957. Before Pete Gogolak took Cornell and later the AFL and NFL by sideways storm. Before Jan Stenerud became the only designated placekicker inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Bednarski, a Polish immigrant whose family settled outside Austin, didn’t turn place-kicking upside-down, but he did turn it sideways by being the first more than a half-century ago...............

“We didn’t know it at that time,” recalled Akers, now 72 and retired in Horseshoe Bay, Texas, “but we were witnessing history.”.....

 

THE AMERICAN DREAM

After nearly four years in a DP camp in Poland, the Bednarskis packed for Ellis Island and the United States. They were to be relocated to North Dakota, but a job there fell through. Instead, the welfare organization charged with placing them found work on a dairy farm in Smithville, Texas, about 20 miles from Austin. Ferdynand Bednarski became a farm hand. The children, now 13, 11 and 8, went to school, and soon the family moved to Austin.

One day at Fulmore Junior High School, Fred sat and watched while the kids played football at lunch. He’d been to games before, but understood the marching band better than the game. Still, one of the boys invited him to play. Better yet, invited him to try kicking the ball.

“Went 40 or 50 yards, at least,” he recalled.

The football coach happened to be on the playground that day, too.

Who is that kid? He’s that Polish boy, Coach

The next day, Bednarski was wearing a football uniform and playing the game for the first time. Bednarkski spoke six languages, but he knew nothing about the rules of the game with the funny-shaped ball. It was bunch of kids pushing, shoving and fighting. Eventually, he was put on defense and told to put the guy with the ball on the ground.

“He ran toward me, I stuck my foot out and tripped him,” Bednarski laughed. “It was easy.”

And illegal, which Bednarski quickly learned.

What the coaches at Fulmore and later Travis High learned was that Bednarski was a terrific athlete. While waiting assignment in the DP camp back in Poland, he’d learned to play soccer and volleyball and ran track. It didn’t take long before Bednarski not only understood how to play football, but excelled at it too, becoming an all-city performer as a fullback and kicker.

A soccer-style kicker.

“That’s the only way I ever kicked,” he said. “You can control the ball better.”.......

His kicking might have been peculiar, but it was good enough for Texas coach Ed Price to invite Bednarski to join the Longhorns as a walk-on in the fall of 1955. Freshmen were ineligible to play during that era, so it wasn’t until the ’56 season, his sophomore year, that Bednarski’s foot first gained fame.....

Football rules were different then. Substitutions were far less frequent and more controlled by officials. When a team scored, a player on the field had to attempt the point-after. There were no kicking specialists.

So the circumstances — in this case, fourth-and-long from the Razorbacks’ 33 — made Royal decide to give his big-footed fullback a chance to kick a field goal. A long one.

“It was unheard of,” said Akers, that Arkansas defensive back who 20 years later would succeed the retiring Royal as head coach at UT in 1977. “And when he lined up in that funny place in the backfield we took the rush away and absolutely knew they were going to pass it or do something tricky.”

But then?

“Man, did that ball go. Would’ve been good from 10 more yards.”

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