Some places are just different — there’s a brightness to them, an energy, and they have the power to bring together people of all ages and all walks of life. They’re the lifeblood of our region, and over the year, we’ll be highlighting some of these special places across our service area. We’re calling them Hearts of the Hill Country — because when we’re there, we’re community.
It’s 6:49 p.m.
The sun is setting, but the stadium is awash in bright light. Trumpets sound and pompoms pump as families and fans wait in the stands. Eleven long minutes pass, then the clock strikes 7.
The Dripping Springs High School football team bursts into the limelight and floods the Tiger Stadium field to the roar of the crowd. This is Friday night in Dripping Springs: Big and small, young and old, these Central Texans are loyal and true to the maroon and gold.
“The atmosphere in the stadium is absolutely crazy,” Senior Left Tackle Lantz Milam said. “Being in a small town in Texas, this game has been everything to me for so many years, and the community just loves it.”
The sport became a way for Milam to connect with kids and make friends when he moved to Texas from Alaska in the eighth grade. It was love at first tackle, but football is much more than just a game, he said. Not only is his team a second family to him, but football brings families together. Just ask the team’s only set of triplet brothers, Ben, Luke and Wesley Owens.
“Everyone always jokes about who’s the best triplet, but in all seriousness, we cheer each other on, and it’s just cool playing with your brothers and winning on Friday nights,” Senior H-Back Wesley Owens said. “The game is a rush, and the whole town gets involved. Everyone in town always looks forward to going to the games.”
Everything truly is bigger in Texas, and of course that includes football. When Dripping Springs Athletic Director and head coach Galen Zimmerman (known commonly as Coach Z) was hired four years ago, he was aware of small-town sports culture and its importance to the community. He made it his responsibility to make the kids not just better players, but better people, too.
“Trust, passion and discipline are the core values of our program,” Zimmerman said. “We’re going to make them great in football, but we’re also going to make them great in our community, in their families and in the world.”
Bottom line, high school football in Dripping Springs is about the kids on the field. Players, cheerleaders, band members, drill team members, boosters, fans: You name it. It’s what brings the community together at Tiger Stadium year after year.
“Dripping Springs’ athletics programs are a big deal in our community because of our kids,” Zimmerman said. “Our programs are a heart of the community because everyone wants to support the kids. It was that way before I came here, and I know it will be that way in the future, too.”