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."
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Whether you became a home chef when the pandemic began or have always enjoyed crafting delicious meals, it’s undeniable that no home is complete without a cozy kitchen.
Take a peek at these five gems on the market now.
In the South Austin Parten community, this castle-like four-bedroom, three-and-a-half bathroom stunner puts you just minutes from Austin, Dripping Springs and other nearby communities. Stark white and black contrasting features give the interiors a clean look, while a large curving staircase serves as a centerpiece for the ground floor. The chef’s kitchen is spacious, facing the living room and multiple windows, and immediately draws the eye. Upstairs you’ll find a spa-style bathroom, game room with a wet bar and Hill Country Views.This listing is held by Adam Zell and Lexie Zell.
This hyper-modern, 3,300-square-foot Scandinavian-styled home is a paradise for natural light in Hyde Park. With four bedrooms and three-and-a-half bathrooms spread across one story, the home rests on concrete columns to protect from extreme climate conditions. Inside, you’ll find crisp, clean trim in the open-plan kitchen with built-in luxury appliances and a walk-in pantry. Lofty 12-foot ceilings and gigantic windows set the tone, with a wet bar and second living room for entertaining. When you retire to the master bedroom, enjoy a warm bath in the soaking tub or enjoy the multi-output shower.
This listing is held by Austin Stowell.
In the heart of Westlake, this stacked three-story new build is a sprawling 4,483 square feet with five bedrooms and four-and-a-half bathrooms. The home is centrally located and full of natural light, especially on the open concept first floor, which includes the kitchen, casual dining space and living area. The third floor has a bedroom and loft, perfect for the at-home worker.
This listing is held by Jen Templeton and Cheryl Albanese.
This 3,539 square foot, three-bedroom, three-and-a-half bathroom Tarrytown townhouse is newly remodeled but still holds on to its vintage charm. Bright white cabinets, a green accented island and quartzite countertops in the kitchen give the space a cheery feeling. Entering on the second floor, you’ll have to walk downstairs to get to the bedrooms, which include ensuite baths and walk-in showers. The third level bonus room is the perfect place for an at-home office.This listing is held by Cindy Fowler.
Just outside Austin in the sleepy town of Wimberley, the Backbone Ridge Ranch is one of the city’s most “iconic and pristine” properties. On nearly 50 acres of land, the house takes you into nature without getting too far from nearby cities. With 4,369 square feet, six bedrooms and six-and-a-half bathrooms, floor-to-ceiling windows effortlessly light the entire space. You’ll feel like a celebrity chef while cooking in the kitchen, even more so entertaining from the outdoor kitchen and living space. The 33,000-gallon quarried limestone pool is perfect for those hot Hill Country summers!This listing is held by Nicole Kessler.
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Sample some spirits
When: 11:30 a.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday
Where: Desert Door, 211 Darden Hill Rd. Driftwood
What: Attend Desert Door Distillery’s first Explorer Series of 2022. Guests will be able to sample Caliber on its own or in a delicious cocktail.
Eat some chili
When: 12 p.m. Saturday
Where: Sagebrush, 5500 S. Congress Ave.
What: Enjoy great chili and great music at the 14th Annual Chili Cold Blood Chili Cook-Off. All proceeds will be donated to Health Alliance for Austin Musicians in memory of Nick Curran.
Enjoy some local art
When: 4 p.m. Saturday
Where: Neill-Cochran House Museum, 2310 San Gabriel St.
What: The Neil-Cochran House Museum will host a multi-media art exhibition by Austin artist Nell Gottlieb, titled “Land as Persona: An Artist’s Journey.” Gottlieb works in multiple media to reexamine her coming of age, white and female in the Jim Crow South.
Catch some improv comedy
When: 7 p.m. Sunday
Where: GameOn! ATX, 1515 Dungan Ln.
What: ColdTowne ThrowDowne is an improv comedy tournament between troupes that will take place in front of a live studio audience and streamed live to the world on Twitch.
Catch a Johnny Cash-style show
When: 7:30 p.m. Sunday
Where: Georgetown Palace Theatre, 810 S. Austin Ave.
What: Experience music history with a unique musical about love and faith, struggle and success, rowdiness and redemption, and the healing power of home and family set to the tune of the legendary Johnny Cash.