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THE IDLE AMERICAN
Wednesday, December 1, 2010 • Posted December 1, 2010

Finally, Tower Sign Holds Water…

Broken clocks have legs up on water tower signage in Granbury, Texas. Timepieces are "right" twice a day, but the tower’s message has been "wrong" 24/7 for two years.

"Wrong" seems a bit strong; actually, the city’s claim has been "wrong" in a "right" sort of way.

The City Council wanted to pay homage to their world-class girls’ basketball coach, Leta Andrews, when the 15-year painting cycle for the tower came due. Bold letters bragged: "Granbury, Texas—Home of Leta Andrews, winningest high school coach in history."…

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The congenial coach, a proud Hood County product, grew up a handful of miles from the tower and played on state finalist GHS teams in the ’54 and ’55 seasons. She was flush with thanksgiving the first time she laid eyes on the tower sign. Though "peacock proud" of the recognition, she couldn’t ignore her conscience’s whistle.

One more word would have made all the difference—simply insertion of the word "girls."

She was well aware that in adjoining Tarrant County lives retired Coach Robert Hughes, whose record coaching boys’ basketball outshined hers by 25 wins when he closed out 47 seasons five years ago.

What could city officials do? Already in recessionary cost-cutting mode, they weren’t inclined to re-paint, and it seemed silly to add an asterisk. They knew, too, that in all probability the sign would soon be "right." And they were "right!"…

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The Lord willing and creeks remaining in their banks, Andrews will soon record her 1,334th win, thus making the tower’s claim 100% accurate. At this writing, her wins are one short of Hughes’, with games against Stephenville HS and tournament play in Fort Worth vs. Denton Guyer HS next up. Odds are strong that cheers will rise in a matter of days when 73-year-old Leta Andrews sets the new mark.

Recognized nationally for her coaching success, the icon has taken the whole thing in stride.

She’s happy molding lives. And her well-ordered life includes roles of a Christian wife, mother, grandmother, educator and citizen….

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Her biggest fans are the youngsters she has coached for 49 consecutive years. More than 100 have gone on to play college ball, a couple of dozen are now coaches, one played in the pros and another competed in the Olympics.

Andrews’ 1990 Calallen HS team won the state championship, and five other teams (one each at Comanche and Granbury and three at Calallen) were runner-up in the tournament’s final game.

Her husband, David, a fellow educator, has been a constant supporter across the years. Much of the time, he has driven the team bus, but then, so has she….

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A classroom teacher for 40 years, she "retired" in 2001, so she now focuses totally on coaching. Cited with dozens of honors, she was named co-winner of McDonald’s 1992 "Outstanding Teacher of the Year" award, perhaps her most valued prize. In her response, Mrs. Andrews said: "I believe in children! Race, sex, social status, ethnicity, language and ability are immaterial. I believe my job is to help them realize their dreams."

Shucks, I’m kinda glad they put out the water tower message early. Tower "brags" are often wrong with "this and that" claims which often are hard to prove. Back in the day, unauthorized signage was provided by youngsters who managed to shinny to the top— carrying paint buckets yet—to proclaim "Seniors ’74, Wildcats Rule, Johnny+Sue, Kilroy Was Here," and the list goes on.

One New Jersey tower proclaims, "Home of the World’s Most Beautiful Sunsets." That would be tough to prove. In Electra, Texas, back in ’82—the same year "E. T." was a hit movie with its "call home" theme—they decided to seize the moment, since the town’s name claims the same initials. So, they painted "E. T. Is Home" on the tower…..

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What about later? Leta’s eventual retirement is rarely mentioned in the Andrews household. Or around town either, for that matter. There’s talk of putting a good wax job on the water tower sign, and maybe devising some "glow in the dark" lettering.

As long as health holds and her will remains strong, why should she even think of retirement? Come 2023 when they re-paint the water tower, no telling what her record will be.

In the meantime, conversations about Coach Andrews will feature an array of superlatives, about a champion who daily drills the importance of values, character and the work ethic to help kids reach the next level. She’s a giant by all noble measures, and will "do to ride the river with."…

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Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Metroplex. Email: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Website: www.speakerdoc.com.

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