Before we even get into this, let’s address the elephant in the room.
When it comes to the year 2020, every aspect of our lives was touched by COVID-19, which makes it difficult – if not impossible – to recap the year without mentioning it.
The pandemic’s impact on sports was colossal, which makes piecing together a list of the top stories an arduous task for multiple reasons, not the least of which is the fact that, for a large percentage of the year, sports just did not exist in really any form or fashion.
All that said, we soldier on and, as has become tradition, I present to you our countdown of the top five Bee County sports stories of the past year:
Beeville boys soccer
1 We start our countdown with some pre-pandemic history.
The Beeville boys soccer team, coached by A.C. Jones alumna Calli Barber, won the program’s first ever district championship March 9 thanks to a 6-3 victory over Rockport-Fulton at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
The Trojans went 6-1-1 in District 30-4A play to edge out Rockport-Fulton for the crown.
They scored three times in the first 10 minutes of the contest and held onto that lead throughout.
Diego Flores had a hat trick to account for half of Beeville’s six goals, while Chris Cantu, Tyler Reed and Arturo Escandon-Zertuche added a goal apiece in the title-clinching win.
The win proved their coach’s gut feeling correct. Barber said that, before the season started in January, that she just had a gut feeling that her team would win the district title in her fourth year at the helm of the program.
And two months later, she was presiding over their coronation.
“Just to see my boys and their happiness is everything to me,” Barber said at the time. “At the end of the day, I’m just a proud coach. I just coached them. They were the ones who were on that field executing what needed to be done.
“In the end, it’s theirs. I’m just proud that they fought and won this game tonight.”
The win proved to be Beeville’s final contest of the season. The UIL canceled the postseason before the Trojans were able to take the field as the district’s No. 1 seed.
2 Our No. 2 story on the countdown takes us to the county’s southernmost school and the drama surrounding who would coach the Bobcats in 2020.
In early April, John Livas resigned as the athletic director and head football coach at Skidmore-Tynan after seven seasons.
He won 29 games in his tenure and led the Bobcats to the playoffs twice.
His resignation triggered what would become a drama-filled search for his replacement that ultimately indirectly – some might even say directly – fueled the departure of the district’s superintendent as well as two board of trustee members.
Dr. Dustin Barton, then the district’s superintendent, led the search and, at a special meeting April 30, recommended Coastal Bend native Daniel Oelschlegel to the seven-member board of trustees.
Board Vice President Edward Polasek made the motion to hire Oelschlegel after a lengthy executive session, but that motion failed 4-3 when Rick Olivares, Luke Hardin, Joe Menchaca and April Alvarado all voted no.
A little over a month later, on May 11, the board approved Barton’s second recommendation, Stephen Silva, who had been on staff for the previous two years as the defensive coordinator.
Not long after, Barton resigned to accept a job at Caddo Mills ISD, and Polasek as well as James Bennett, who had seconded the motion to hire Oelschlegel, effectively resigned their seats on the board and did not seek reelection.
Silva’s first Bobcat squad was the lone county team to make the postseason this year.
3 The No. 3 story in our countdown also revolves around coaching, specifically the return of a former player to coach the program where she was once a standout.
Felicia Ramirez, a 2006 A.C. Jones High alumna, took over as the girls athletic coordinator and head girls basketball coach over the summer.
She had returned to Beeville when her father, Chris Soza, became the Trojan football coach in 2019, serving as the cross country and girls track coach that school year.
In June, Paul Yuma resigned and accepted a job at Calallen after being told he would not be retained in any coaching capacity.
Ramirez was then installed as the program’s coach.
“It excites me coming back here more than anything because I played on that same floor, I had those same feelings that the kids have,” Ramirez said at the time.
In her first season, she has the Lady Trojans off to a 2-0 start in district play and positioned to be the favorite to win the District 26-4A crown.
4 We turn our attention to the sport of cross country for our No. 4 entry on the countdown.
Beeville sophomore Jada Johnson earns the nod here with her second straight trip to the state cross country meet.
She finished sixth at the Region IV meet in Corpus Christi last month, securing one of the region’s 10 individual bids to the state meet in Round Rock.
She clocked a time of 12 minutes, 42.79 seconds on the 2-mile course.
She went on to finish 47th in the 4A girls race at the state meet.
Skidmore-Tynan girls cross country
5 Cross country also occupies the No. 5 spot on our countdown.
This spot belongs to the Skidmore-Tynan Lady Cat cross country team, which won the District 29-3A championship with a near-perfect score in October.
Skidmore-Tynan boasted the top three finishers in the girls race with Yaneli Aguilar winning the gold, Natalie Garcia claiming the silver and Mariella Gonzales securing the bronze medal.
Maggy Moreman was sixth and Jasmine Terry was eighth for the Lady Cats for a team total of 19 points, just four points off a perfect score of 15.
Orange Grove finished second to the Lady Cats with a team score of 70 points.
Aguilar and Garcia both went on to qualify for the state meet for Skidmore. They finished 64th and 72nd, respectively, in the 3A girls race at the state meet in Round Rock on Nov. 23.