By David Tuma, Publisher
Craig Bower will officially retire later this year as an athletic trainer for Belton High School. Over the past 31 years he has touched just about every part of the Belton community. He is respected beyond the years of service he gave the athletes and families of this community.
For Belton High School it is a loss.
He grew up in San Antonio and graduated from Lamar University. “My interview was up at the old field house on the hill. The cars would be lined up on the gravel road leading up to the field house. The keys were in the cars as a walked past. I told myself I have got to live here. You wouldn’t dare leave your keys in the vehicle where I grew up,” said Bower. The vehicles where blocking each other. The keys were there so you could move the trucks.
They had two tables and a whirlpool that first year. The field house was kind of an add-on facility and they kept adding on. Wasn’t much but it worked. There were around 1,000 kids back then at Belton High School and they filed just over 1,100 physicals.
The total amount of football players was just over 100 a far cry from today’s numbers. There was over 700 kids who play junior high football last fall. The training rooms open up at 6:30 a.m. during the school year. During football season it opens up at 5:30 a.m.
“For 31 years my life and family was dictated by sports. I have a 31 year to do list from my wife Sherry. I had the opportunity to watch so many kids grow up here. After I turned in my resignation I visited all the BHS athletes who are in coaching. I can still see the hood flexing as the ambulance raced down the highway as we tried to save Richard Kerzee,” said Bower.
“My favorite memories was watching those freshman grow up and graduate. Belton was a great place to raise my children. When I first started boys watched Belton play, football growing up and they would die trying to get to play. The power of high school football for a young man is unbelievable. ”
He met Sherry when they both were at Lamar. Their sons Clayton and Timothy both played for the Tigers. Daughter Stephanie became a big time journalist.
He didn’t get to see his kids play junior high sports because he was working. The hours he spent in service of this community are probably unmatched by any person over the past 30-years.
“When am working on another field I go worst case issues. Where is the ambulance and what equipment is available at the site? How can get into the stands if there is a problem up there it is those kinds of things that run through your mind,” said Bower.
When he and his wife Sherry met she bumped into his lunch tray knocking it out of his hands. Little did she know how much she and her children would give to the Belton community.
“Everybody knew everybody in Belton when I moved here. It was so long ago they had a smoking area outside the high school. Treat the kids like they are your own and you can never go wrong. Don’t lie to the kid, they can see right through it. If you have to make a call do it for the long term,” said Bower.
Belton just gave back one of their own. It was time. Bower is a huge outdoorsman and plans on continuing. He was always showing off the bucks others shot off the deer lease he has. He plans to remain involved in Scouts and some teaching at Scott and White.
More than once he gave a ride to a journalist or two from Belton. During cold winter nights his beat up old red van was a great place to cover a soccer game.
His greatest asset and Belton High Schools biggest loss was his heart. The man truly cared. It wasn’t just one year or one decade it was every year, every hour and all 31 years. His children were just like him. I once interviewed Timothy and Broderick Crain who were UMHB football players. The UMHB press person asked how in the world did you get Bower out here. Nobody can do that and several have tried.
I told him I knew him, his mother, his sister, his brother and his father. We are from Belton.