The arrival of football captain Leo Lowin's championship ring last week was, he said, "the cherry on top" of years of hard work and a stunning victory shutout for his Westlake High School Chaparrals football team.
A glittery, dazzling, gem-encrusted—and hefty—cherry, perched proudly on top of a roller coaster year. It landed on players' hands last Thursday.
"It's some shining positivity finally emerging from the quarantine days," said Tony Salazar, assistant coach and defensive coordinator for the Chaparrals.
The ring is also a fitting symbol of the enduring cultural importance that high school football plays in Texas—and the reverence with which its champions are celebrated.
"[Head Coach] Todd Dodge really went elite with the rings," said Sage Luther, 18, another team captain and May graduate, who heads to Colgate University in the fall. "I would say we have the biggest rings in the state. We have really worked hard for it."
Already a formidable team and iconic football school in its own right, the Chaparrals won the 6A Division 2 state championship after defeating Denton Guyer 24-0 in December.
It was the second championship in the team's history. The first was in 1996, when New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees was a senior on the team.
"When I watched that clock hit zero, I was kind of overcome with emotion," recalled Lowin, 18, a team captain who also played safety for the Chaps. "It's something special you always dream about as a little kid. We finally made it happen."
Ordered in January and delayed for months by the pandemic, the rings arrived one week before Lowin was set to head out to the East Coast, where he'll play football for the Army Black Knights at the United States Military Academy at West Point.
"All the work we did, just to finally get those rings to show up," Lowin said. "They look great."
Most of the players got the silver $300 variety, Lowin said, with their team number, their name and the words "State Champions" embossed on the ring, and personalized inscriptions inside the band. The white gold version cost nearly $1,000, he said.
Lowin also ordered a display box, which is likely where the ring will spend most of its time.
"They're obviously pretty big, so I don't know if I'll be wearing it all the time," Lowin said with a laugh. "Whenever we come back for a reunion, I'll have to break it out."
Dodge said the timing couldn't have been better.
"Especially for our seniors that are almost going off to college now, they had a chance to get their rings," Dodge said. "It was a really special day."
- Salons, gyms on track to reopen; Abbott encourages masks, social ... ›
- Texas A&M, University of Texas systems expect to reopen in the fall ... ›
- Sports fans will be allowed to attend outdoor pro games, Gov. Abbott ... ›
An Austin man was sentenced to 30 months in prison for stalking and sending threatening letters and emails to pop star Taylor Swift's former record label.
Marisela Maddox is no stranger to the nanny game, having hired at-home caregivers in the past to help with her two children, ages 5 and 10.
- Austin parents weigh return to school without clear guidance ... ›
- Child care facilities can start up now, Abbott says; bars, bingo halls ... ›
- Day care centers face money woes even as Texas parents go back to ›
- Texas reinstates COVID-19 safety rules for child care centers ... ›
As some children gear up to head back to school, many parents are wondering what to expect next with their child's learning.
For Ashley McGuire, mother of 6-year-old Mason, in-person schooling can't come quickly enough. The online process, she said, is lonely and has been frustrating for everyone in the family.
- Austin teens face unique challenges in high school decision - austonia ›
- Austin sees uptick in new COVID cases among 10-19 age group ... ›
- Flu season: Austin health officials are focused on vaccines - austonia ›
Former University of Texas men's tennis coach Michael Center is in a Texas halfway house and set to be released in October after serving six months in federal prison for falsely designating a wealthy West Coast student as a Longhorns recruit.
College athletes get a win with Election Day off every year, effort led by local NBA champ Chris Bosh
In a historic win for college athletes and voter advocates, led by former NBA champion and Austinite Chris Bosh, the NCAA voted this week to require an annual November Election Day "off day" for Division 1 student athletes to vote or volunteer in election activities if they choose.
The Austin Trail of Lights—an annual event that transforms Zilker Park into a winter wonderland, featuring more than 60 displays and two million lights—will take place this holiday season, despite the pandemic.
- Reeling from canceled festivals, Austin's small businesses find new ... ›
- ACL cancels 2020 event, will offer refunds - austonia ›
- Devastated Austin tourism may take years to recover - austonia ›
- Nearly 100 Austin festivals canceled, postponed or at risk as ... ›
- Mass events in Austin likely canceled through December, Escott says ›