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The Epiphany on Lost Mine Trail-Big Bend April  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 adult hood.

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 adult hood.

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! 

After a year of rehabilitation, I was ready to test my return to good health and ascending 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 @ 16 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 anyone to make but 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.

 

 

 

What the "T" ring means to me

 

 

I agree with Dallas Griffin's comment that the  T-ring represents the total experience of being a Longhorn athlete and student. While I am blessed with many life time friends from my Texas years, playing football and graduating from Texas were not easy for me.  My years at Texas were filled with discouraging moments, set backs, and struggles on the playing field and in the classroom.

Frank Denius in his book On the Way captures the essence of the T-ring for many recipients.  He says "there is a purpose in our hardships, because they demand persistence and determination to overcome. Adversity and difficulty often draw out qualities in a person that otherwise might never be realized and incorporated into a useful live." 

Many student athletes every year overcome obstacles and hardships to fulfill their dream of  being a Longhorn.  These Horns possess a special spirit, focused commitment, and a irrepressible passion to be a part of UT Sports history and a UT graduate.  Along with many of my peers, I possessed these qualities. 

As I look at my T-ring 46 years after earning it, Frank Denius words resonate with me. Looking into the burnt orange stone with the white 'T' in relief is like looking into a crystal ball that reflects my past instead of my future. It reminds me that overcoming obstacles during my college  years prepared me for my journey into adulthood. My reflection in the burnt orange stone confirms the importance of the past in forming the future and validates my struggle.

Billy Dale- proud T-ring recipient 1971

 

 

The winning touchdown in the 100th year of college football completes a perfect season and a National Championship for the Texas Longhorns

 Bobby Wuensch

Bobby Wuensch

 

 

Bobby Wuensch #50 throws key block on touchdown.

 

 

 

 

 

 Jim Bertlesen

Jim Bertlesen

Two days before the start of the 1969 national championship season, Coach Royal made the correct decision to promote Jim Bertelsen to first team and move Billy Dale to second team.  It was a dark day in my life, but the right choice for the 1969 Texas Longhorns. Jim was a great running back who set several records at Texas and is one of only 7 Longhorn running backs in the history of Texas football to be honored as a  Pro bowl participant.      

 

 After the demotion, Coach Royal pulled me to the side after practice and said “Billy do not get down on yourself. You are a valuable member of this team. We need your skills as a blocker, so I am going to use you to carry in the plays." "You will play at both the right and left half back positions."  Coach was true to his word. The whole year (except Arkansas and that is a whole different story) I was used as a blocking “lineman” positioned in the back field . The opposition knew that when I entered the game I entered primarily as a blocker and the defenses planned accordingly.  Royal did not care if the opponents knew these tendency.  He was confident we could execute the Wishbone option and win the game.  He was right!

 

 

 

 

 

Randy Peschel

 

 

                                    

 

The Game Plan for the National Championship Game

The game plan for Notre Dame was no different than other games that year. Coach Royal said to the press "we are going to dance with who brung us", and he did! As in the other games in 1969, I was used primarily as the blocking back.

In the 4th quarter the dynamics of the game changed. Ted Koy got hurt, and I replaced him. It was a tough day for me. I think I gained 12 yards on 10 carries. On the drive that won the game Ted had returned to the huddle, and I had returned to Coach Royal’s side. On the 3rd and 1 from the one yard line with time running out, Coach Royal grabbed me by the mask and said “I'm calling your number”. He said “go in at right halfback and call Counter right 55”. When I entered the huddle and called the play all 10 of my teammates, who usually kept their heads down as I called the play, raised their heads in unison to look at me as to say “really?” 

 

Steve Worster

Everyone in the huddle assumed Steve Worster would get the ball. Notre Dame thought the same thing-  Dale comes into the game so the ball is either going to Worster or Bertelsen. History proves otherwise and after studying the game film, it is obvious that Notre Dame was convinced Worster would get the ball.  Worster did a great job of freezing the defense on the touchdown play. 

 

                                                        

 

 The Play

I don't remember Tom Campbell's exact quote on my Facebook page, but he told all my friends that a 90 year old woman could have made that touchdown.  Thru the years many other teammates jokingly have made similar statements and factually they are correct so I never defend myself. I just smile and enjoy the moment. 

It was just one yard, but the play still needed a strategy. The hitting on both sides of the ball was brutal so my first priority was to protect the ball with both arms and both hands. Then I decided not to look for a hole in the defense. (Looking for a hole tends to slow down forward momentum.) 

Touchdown against Notre Dame .jpg

Since I was not going to look for a hole the logical decision was to use my helmet as a battering ram, lean forward as far as humanly possible, run to the hole as diagrammed, and hope my teammates studied the same diagram at practice.    They did!

Years later Coach Royal told me that during the game he and Coach Bellard studied Notre Dame's defensive tendencies when I entered the game. So Coach  knew that the Notre Dame defense would discount me as the ball carrier and make some defensive adjustments to prepare for Worster and Bertelsen. 

Tom Campbell's comment that a 90 year old woman could have made that touchdown is correct, but on that fateful day on January 1, 1970 destiny was with me and not a 90 year old woman. History records that Billy Dale with the support of Worster as the decoy followed great blocks from Jim Bertelsen, Randy Peschel, and Bobby Wuensch   to make the winning touchdown against Notre Dame in the 100th year of college football to cement the National Championship for the Texas Longhorns.

I will take it!!!

 

Coach Royal seconds after the touchdown against Notre Dame