(Leo Lowin)

The Westlake High School Chaparrals get their championship rings.

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."

(Laura Figi)

At the tail end of a tough year for retailers, Black Friday deals appeared to draw fewer shoppers into big box stores around Austin.

Keep Reading Show less
(Tito's Handmade Vodka)

Ingredients:

  • 750 mL Tito's Handmade Vodka
  • 1 1/2 cup toasted pecans
Directions: Toast pecans in a 350°F oven until they become aromatic (about 5 minutes). Let pecans cool, drop them into a resealable jar, and fill with Tito's Handmade Vodka. Store in a cool, dark place for 1 month, if you can wait that long.
(Nan Palmero/CC)

Thanksgiving is over and the most wonderful time of year has officially begun. Christmas light shows have been a Texas tradition for years—so beloved that not even a pandemic could stop them from shining this year.

Keep Reading Show less
(Texas Longhorns/Instagram)
Game Preview: Longhorns face off against #13 Cyclones

The Texas Longhorns take the field for the first time in two weeks after postponements and bye weeks, making them one of the most well rested teams in the conference.

Keep Reading Show less
(MangoNic/Shutterstock)

Before the pandemic started, Adult Care of Austin on Menchaca Road didn't offer telemedicine appointments.

Now, the private practice conducts almost all of its visits virtually, either over the phone or on HIPAA-compliant video platforms.

Dr. Steven Dobberfuhl, an internal medicine physician, said telemedicine saved his practice—and has been a boon to his patients, around 75% of whom are 65 years or older and at high risk of contracting COVID-19.

"I didn't believe it would work as well as it has," he said.

Keep Reading Show less

Austin will see "big weather changes" this weekend, with likely thunderstorms Friday morning and early Saturday morning, according to the National Weather Service.

Keep Reading Show less
(Pexels)

From pandemic-inspired poetry to a graphic novel based on a Mayan legend, this holiday season offers titles for every taste. Below is a list of books from local authors to add to your Black Friday shopping cart or wintertime to-read list.

Keep Reading Show less