It was the moment when the basketball team went undefeated and became part of local history; It was that moment when a child of the Segundo Barrio sprinted toward the finish line at state; It was the moment when the football team’s win streak became a story to tell for generations to come.
These were the moments when an ordinary day, became a glorious one.
On Saturday, October 24th, former athletes of Bowie High School reminisced about their glory days on the track, on the football field and on the basketball courts during the first-ever Memory Lane Committee’s Bowie Bear Day event. About 350 people, including alumni, former athletes and their families, attended the event at the small gym at Bowie High School.
Among the many athletes that were honored was distinguished Hall of Famer and Coach Nolan Richardson and former track athlete Alberto Estrada, who had waited more than 60 years to receive recognition for his accomplishments in track and field.
According to Bowie Bear Juan De Santiago, who founded the Memory Lane Committee, the newly formed committee of Bowie High School alumni is dedicated to honoring former students who may not have gained the recognition they deserved.
Through networking and several phone calls members were able to track down former athletes who did not receive their District or State awards honors.
Athletes were honored with rings, medallions or a presentation of a plaque.
Richardson, De Santiago’s basketball coach, was honored for being named a 1958 All State Football and basketball player and for coaching
the 1974-1975 basketball teams that were the undefeated champions under his leadership. Even with his many accolades, Richardson said that coming home every year to Bowie High School was always a great honor.
This year – was especially a privilege he said.
“Three days ago, I was in the hospital not thinking I’d make it,” Richardson said. “But the good Man upstairs has been so good to me and blessed me in so many ways…they thought I had pneumonia.” He said.
A couple days after being admitted into the hospital Richardson was released.
“They were able to release me so I could come and see my family,” he said looking out at the crowd of 350, a good number of them Bowie Bears. Richardson is widely known as the only coach to win a junior college, National Invitation Tournament and NCAA championship for Texas Western College in 1980, the University of Tulsa in 1981, and the University of Arkansas in 1994, respectively.
In Arkansas he was recognized for being the first African American coach at a major university in the south, according to the Texas Hall of Fame, where Richardson was inducted in April 2015 – after being inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008; and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2014.
But on Saturday, Richardson, surrounded by his former athletes and their families, only had a handful of memories in mind – the successes and laughs he shared on the court with his former students.
“Melvin (Patridge) and I were talking a few minutes ago – and he missed a shot that could’ve won us the game,” Richardson said. “We could have been at the state championship game had he made the shot. He said, ‘I dream of it every night.’ And I said, hell I dream of it twice a night.”
Patridge later clarified that the shot had gone in, but the ball had spun inside the rim before coming out.
Other notable athletes were recognized as well including 1949 All State Champion Alberto Estrada. For Estrada it was a recognition that he had long awaited. Estrada, a distance runner for the track team, won the 1949 State Championship for the 1600, or the mile-run.
Estrada, who joined the team his sophomore year, said he had waited 66 years for his recognition.
“I wanted to make the team to letter,” he said. “My ticket behind it was – I wanted to get a scholarship to go to school, because I was an orphan.”
Not knowing what event he was meant to run, he sought the advice from the team captain who said he didn’t have speed, but he had endurance and with that he began training to become a distance runner.
In 1949, Bowie High School was located at what is now known as Guillen Middle School on 900 South Cotton Street, and it was a different world.
“We ran on the grass with the maranos (pigs) and the horses and cows,” Estrada joked. “We had a beautiful running track.” As Estrada continued to reminisce, he began to get choked up and a bit teary eyed.
“It’s been a great experience being at Bowie because the people are all family,” he said.
Memory Lane Committee member Federico Castillo said the success of the event largely depended on networking, support from donors
and gaining a principal for the school. About $5,000 was raised for the event. Tickets for the event were $7 each.
“We’ve been wanting to do this for a couple years now,” Castillo said. “But we weren’t able to do so because we didn’t have a principal at Bowie until this year.”
Following the EPISD cheating scandal that unfolded in 2012, with Bowie High School at the center stage, several administrators including principal Jesus Chavez, resigned, retired or were fired for their part in the scheme, which sought to cheat federal accountability measures.
Without Teran and several other administrators the high school was without an administrative leader. Then in 2013 the district hired Jesse Teran, as their principal, but Teran left for another opportunity with the Socorro Independent School District in August 2014.
Finally in March 2015, the district hired Michael Warmack, according to the El Paso ISD’s website. Warmack said he was proud to be part of the tradition at Bowie High School and hoped the Memory Lane Committee could continue honoring former students.
“You know we’re all about the students, but when you bring in people like this you bring in a lot of good role models,” Warmack said. “They not only help out the students but they can help out the other clubs as well. They set a great example for the students.”
List of Honorees:
Bowie High School All State, All City and All District Honors and Achievements:
Andy Morales, Baseball – All State 1949
Nolan Richardson, Basketball and Football – All State 1958
Jose De Santiago, Basketball – All State 1975
Andy Morales, Football – All State 1949
Benito Landin, Football – All State 1955
Manuel Ramos, Football – All State 1969
Ricky Tuda, Football – All State 2000
Hilario Tovar, Football – All District 1969 Record 13 Touchdowns.
1974-1975 Basketball Back to Back Undefeated Champions. “Uno, dos, tres the Bears are back.”
- Head Coach Nolan Richardson. Assistant Coach Robert Gavette
- Jesus Araujo
- Francisco Baca
- Joe Blueford
- Ralph Brewster
- Aurelio Castro
- Gabriel Cuellar
- Jose De Santiago
- Joe Duarte
- Alfredo Ferniza
- Jose Garcia
- Armando Gomez
- Frank Hernandez
- Richard Luna
- Melvin Patridge
- Daniel Romero
- David Romo
- Ernesto Rubalcava
- Vicente Solis
- Leo Torres
- Alfredo Tovar
- Arthur Westrbook
1972 Bowie Football Undefeated District Champions – 10 Straight wins
- Head Coach Don Reider; Assistant Coach Fred Rosas; Assistant Coach Jesse Cordero.
- Joel Acosta
- Robert Basurto
- Tony Benavidez
- Daniel Bernal
- Arturo Campos
- Richard Cervantes
- Tony Chavez
- Richard Colorado
- Alfredo Ferniza, manager
- Jose Ferniza, Manager
- Lorenzo Garcia
- Tony Gomez
- Tony Gongora
- David Gonzalez
- Hector Gutierrez, Manager
- Raul Hernandez
- Ernie Hernandez
- Jimmy Lopez
- Arturo Lopez
- Felipe Luna
- Rodney Marta
- Ignacio Martinez
- Jaime Molina
- Raul Ochoa
- Oscar Portillo
- Guillermo Rendon
- Joey Reyes
- Rodolfo Rodriguez
- Adrian Ruiz
- Esteban Sarmiento
- Raul Sierra
- Armando Torres
- Frank Vargas
- George Vargas, Manager
- Ruben Vasquez
- Eulalio Villalva
1986 – Boys and Girls Cross Country Team
- Coach Ron Brooks
- Richard Diaz
- Alfredo Trefjo
- Rex Bear
- Isidro Ramirez
- Walter Jones
- Jose Areaga
- Antonio Cordero
- Julie Orozco
- Rosalba Sanchez
- Lourdes Delgado
- Patty Avila
- Gabby Torres
- Maria Ulloa
- Esther Juarez