The Network By Barbara Wainscott
Former Longhorn student athletes who shared victories, losses, WORKOUTS, fellowship, sorrow, pain, and joy as teammates creates a lifetime bond. years after the glory days in sports have ended the bond remains and is the story that Barbara tells in the Network .
Loyd always said the most valuable education that he received at The University of Texas was not what he learned from the books or the professors but was that he learned how to get things done. And for him, the best way to get things done was usually accomplished through networking. And the most valuable network he ever developed was from the blueprint of Texas athletics.
Loyd didn’t care much for A&M. He just didn’t like the campus nor his recruiting experience there nor his interactions with students he’d had. But there was one area where he would completely give Aggies their due. It was what he called “The Good Old Boy Network”. He would always say “You can say what you want about the Aggies, but they always take care of their own.” He learned his first lesson on the subject when he started looking for work during the summers of his college years. Several times he went into places where there were jobs available and was told straight up that they were available for Aggie players but not for him. When he finally finished playing football and started to work in the real world he found similar reactions. He was in sales and couldn’t believe prospects that he called on would tell him straight to his face that they wouldn’t buy from him because he wasn’t an Aggie. He was furious, but deep down there was something about that kind of loyalty that he truly admired. I told him one day that he just needed to find people who wanted to buy from Longhorns. He said they didn’t exist. He was wrong.
Over the years that followed he began to pay attention to the names associated with the law firms and companies he called on and soon discovered an impressive network of names from past years of Longhorn athletics. One contact after another introduced him to others who became great friends, customers and associates on rodeo committees, bank boards and more. Some were past athletes, some were fans, and some were past opponents with whom he had a mutual respect. Names like James Street, Corby Robertson, Knox Nunnally, Dick Watt, Mike Perrin and Tom Loeffler were just a few on our list of valued customers. Some joined the network as simply interested bystanders intrigued by his college career and that distinctive ring he wore.
Corby Robertson is in the middle with Bill Bradley to the left and Chris Gilbert to the right.
Loyd and Angie Wainscott with President Bush
The most interesting of these was President H.W. Bush. Loyd cold called on his office one day and got a polite “don’t call us; we’ll call you” response from Rose Zamarias, the President’s office manager. But a few weeks later he got a call that the President would like to see him. He had clearly checked Loyd out as he talked at great length about his career at Texas. President Bush became a good friend, a good golfing buddy and a good customer. He
was one of many customers where Texas athletics, if nothing else, helped him get his foot in the door.
My youngest daughter, Angie, worked at our printing and engraving company. She started in the office and eventually talked her dad into letting her get into the sales and service side of the business. He planned a day of sales calls for the two of them for some existing customers, a few appointments with new law firms and a few cold calls on firms with whom they had never spoken before. They were both pumped to attempt the new endeavor. At the end of the day when they came home I asked Angie if she learned anything. She said, “Yep. I learned you can’t sell paper in this town unless you can BS for forty-five minutes about Texas football first.” Lot of truth in that statement. It was the sound of business. It was interesting that his professional football career took second seat to his college career in that regard, even though he was doing business in the same town where he played professional football.
Many of our friends, most of whom were Texas athletes of one kind or another, had moved to Houston when we graduated. Our social crowd grew exponentially as our friends introduced us to their friends and vice-versa so that there was a feeling that the University had followed us when we moved, making football games, March banquets, fundraisers and countless UT events an integral part of our lives. Our doctors, lawyers, dentists and surgeons...all with some connection to our underlying Longhorn roots. It is no exaggeration when you hear the phrase “burnt orange blood runs deep”.
Never would that ring any truer for us than during the years of 2005 through 2010. In late 2005 Loyd was diagnosed with thymic carcinoma, a cancer that was so aggressive and rare that the doctors could not even give us a prognosis as they didn’t have enough statistics on it. Loyd used to tell a story about when he first started playing football at UT. Without scholarship limits the team size was unwieldy and the coaches were clearly trying to cull out the stragglers and the brutal practices were doing the job. He said the coaches would say “Look to your right and look to your left. Some of those people won’t be there tomorrow. The circle gets smaller and the circle gets tighter but in the end you will know who you can count on.” And boy, was that ever true.
There is something about going through that kind experience with someone, surviving against the odds through blood, sweat and tears that forges a bond like no other. A bond you can count on. Quickly the circle became tighter, gaining us access to some of the finest medical facilities and doctors in the Houston Medical Center. In August of 2009, after three fourteen hour surgeries and subsequent rounds of radiation and chemo, Loyd had a massive stroke and brain bleed covering the right side of his brain,
paralyzing the left side of his body. The doctors told us he would not regain consciousness, speak or live past the next two days. A week later, while in the ICU, he opened his eyes, threw up a “Hook ‘em Horns” and proclaimed “I ain’t got no quit in me!”
He survived another fifteen months, talking, doing physical therapy and eventually coming home. But it was not without cost of every kind. His loyal network became a safety net supporting us both in the months that followed his return home. My time was filled with caring for him 24/7, leaving me not enough time or energy to sort out the astronomical medical expenses and living expenses as well as closing down our company. Time after time the Man upstairs sent help at critical points from every direction. Billy Dale called one day and said there was a group of ex-players who had lunch and he had a check he wanted to give me to use as I needed, as they knew expenses had to be high. Little did he know that month I just had not been able to come up with all of the $7500 Loyd’s blood thinner cost each month after insurance. Their gift literally helped him to live through another month. It wasn’t the only monetary donation they made, and each time it couldn’t have come at a better time. The Longhorn Support Network also bought his transport wheelchair so we could take him to his doctors’ appointments. Their support was invaluable. Many in that group of Texas angels would evolve into the Texas Legacy Support Network.
Loyd passed away in December of 2010. He had a wonderful sendoff surrounded by over six hundred of his closest friends, including many of the TLSN. A friend walked over to me during the reception and said, “Do you realize what this is? This is a Who’s Who of Texas athletics.” I took a moment to scan the room. Indeed it was. It was The Network.