Article by Leya Bryant Grubbs

Photography by Bobcat Moms

Originally published in Celina Lifestyle

“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.”

- Marcus Garvey

In 1970 a new football coach was hired in Celina. His name was Gerald Browder. His contract went into effect on a very hot August day, and he let any boy interested in playing for him know they had better be on the field that afternoon at four o’clock sharp. About twenty boys showed up ranging from fourteen to eighteen years of age. The boys were curious and eager to meet their new head coach, and they were also convinced that there was no way he could possibly be as hard on them as the former. After an afternoon of 100-yard “belly crawls” and “wind sprints,” the boys quickly learned they were mistaken  As nine o’clock approached the boys found themselves praying for the darkness that might come and save them. When they thought the worst was behind them, Coach Browder walked over behind the press-box and turned on the lights  “Line-up, gentlemen. We’re not done here.”  Coach wanted to see what he had…and who would come back.

The boys were tired, disgruntled and questioning their future in the Celina football program.  They were hungry and dehydrated, too, as water breaks at this time were a rare treat. The Seniors huddled-up after the first practice trying to determine their next step. They all ended-up at Alma Jo Scott’s house right down from the old Admin building. It was a central location for all the boys in town, and they knew the door was never locked. Alma Jo had three boys to feed, and it was known there was always food around for the taking. Oftentimes, players would come in unannounced and help themselves to a slice of chocolate cake. There were also no sisters, which was important because while the boys didn’t mind fraternizing with the opposite sex after a game on Friday nights, this night was different. It was a meeting of sorts.  Some boys were at the table, some lying on the floor. It was about eleven o’clock at night.  The question at hand- are we going back tomorrow?  “If you quit, I’ll quit.”  “If I quit my Daddy will whip me.”  In the midst of the conversation, Alma Jo plopped down some Doritos and hot sauce and began making sweet tea. The next morning at seven sharp all but one player showed-up for practice. That second night, like before, they all ended-up at the Scott house.  This time Alma was ready with some cakes in addition to the Doritos and hot sauce, and of course, sweet tea. The team says that’s when their season really began.

As football season went on, the boys continued to meet at the Scott house. Alma would make stew, red beans and cornbread. Other football moms started sending cakes and other treats.  Eventually, the boys started rotating houses but one thing remained constant, the Bobcat moms feeding the Bobcats. “I remember eventually we went from my house, to the Huddleston house to the Glendenning house. And they had sisters so the girls started coming around,” said Keith Scott, one of Alma Jo’s three boys. “You have to remember we didn’t have a Dairy Queen or Sonic or anything and if you wanted a cheeseburger or a pizza you had to drive to McKinney. None of us wanted to do that after a game, especially an away game, so we met at a home knowing we’d get fed.”  This tradition gained traction and continued for the next several years.

In 1974, the original freshmen on Coach Browder’s team were now Seniors. Browder had moved on and G.A. Moore was now the head football coach. This same year, a football mom named Charlotte LeForge asked Coach Moore to meet with the moms to explain the basics of football so they could better understand what it was their sons were doing. This meeting with the moms then turned into a regular occurrence. The Quarterback Club already existed for the men, and now the ladies had an organized way to support the team. They began many traditions still honored today. One of which is the tradition called “The Cookie Box” our boys continue to enjoy during play-off season. Loads and loads of cookies were freshly baked, bagged-up and put in the box for the boys and coaches to grab on the bus on the way home from games. Two boxes exist now, one for the offensive bus and one for the defensive bus.  Tradition is still carried on as freshly baked cookies fill them and the boxes are covered with Bible verses from the moms to encourage the team. The deeper into the play-offs, much like the locker room, more decor and verses are added to the boxes. Many of the recipes used then have been passed down and are baked by our football moms today. Another long-standing play-off tradition is known as “Bobcat Chicken” or “Chicken of Champions.”  Coach Moore asked Celina mom, Sarah Waller, to make her famous chicken for the team each week. This process involved soaking the chicken in a buttermilk base overnight and then frying it. The team would enjoy a big dinner of fried chicken, mashed potatoes and many baked treats in the Fellowship Hall at First Baptist Church. Today, our Bobcat players still enjoy Mrs. Waller’s “Bobcat Chicken” recipe though tweaked over the years with different spices and seasonings depending on who’s making the mix.

Numerous women over the past several decades have laid the foundation for what is today an organization of over 175 members. Bobcat Moms is comprised of moms, grandmothers, aunts, step and foster moms. It exists “to encourage, assist and promote all Celina High School athletes and coaches through acts of service, scholarships and traditions.”  In 2023, Bobcat Moms gave away $15,000 in scholarships to our student athletes. Bobcats Moms provides snacks during two-a-days, financial support for end-of-season banquets, and sandwich brown bags for travel. They provide play-off meals and homes across town host numerous breakfasts and dinners for our athletes during their seasons. Bobcat Moms is said to supply nourishment to our Celina athletes because, “It’s the key to every Bobcat’s heart".  Fifty years and dozens of homemade cookies later, we still have the Bobcat moms feeding the Bobcats.

For more information about the organization, to seek membership or to get your hands on some of the traditional recipes passed down to new Bobcat Moms over the years, please go to BobcatMoms.com

Thank you Leya Bryant Grubbs for your editorial submission. If you have an editorial piece for consideration, please submit to Barbara.Ireland@CityLifestyle.com

Leya Bryant Grubbs and her husband Brian have lived in Celina for seven years with their three children. She remains active in the community serving on various city and school committees as well as being a co-owner of Thrown Axe Co. Being a big sports family, the Grubbs love all things "Bobcat" including athletics and tradition. They consider it an honor and a privilege to be part of the Bobcat Nation!  

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