My origins

Based on DNA tests done on my parents, my sisters and I have this genetic makeup: 28 percent Irish, 25.5 percent Europe West, 19 percent Great Britain, 18.5 percent Scandinavia, and trace amounts of Native American, Eastern European, Central Asia, European Jewish, and Finnish/Northwestern Russia.

I suspect the Scandinavian side is where the German side of the family dwells.

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Getting a kick out of Mustang soccer

April 12, 2018 Leave a comment

MF Girls Soccer MV04

By Richard Zowie

This column was originally published in the April 6, 2018 issue of the (Marble Falls, Texas) Highlander. 

Watching soccer was not one of my greatest interests — until this sports season.

A high school friend of mine who lives in Houston often posts videos of his young sons playing soccer. Even though both sons are under 10, both are excellent scorers with a strong, intuitive sense of where they need to be on any given play. I’ve told my friend, soccer scholarships may very well pay for your sons’ college education. 

And here at Marble Falls High School, the teams play soccer much like my friends’ talented sons do: the Mustangs work together to pass the ball to move it up the field. The Lady Mustangs may not have qualified for the playoffs, but they play the same kind of soccer: work together, hustle, pass the ball to whomever has the best angle.

Unfortunately, I saw few soccer fans in the stands during the regular season. More showed up for the March 29 bi-district match with Austin Lanier and on Tuesday against Victoria East, but I hope soon that Mustang fans will realize they have a team that could use some support, especially as they continued on a playoff march into the regional quarterfinals Thursday against a very tough district rival Drippings Springs team.

My own experience with soccer

I played soccer in high school for physical education. My most memorable moment was kicking the ball as hard as I could — and nailing an opponent in the groin. I felt terrible but at the same time, I prayed to God, “Lord, please don’t let me laugh. It wouldn’t be very nice.”

Soccer’s popularity

I watched the LA Galaxy take on their rival, the LA Football Club this weekend in Major League Soccer. I also watched two Premier League teams, Everton and Manchester City (not to be confused with their rival, Manchester United) battle it out in England.

As I watched, I thought, perhaps soccer will catch on in America. It requires teamwork and athleticism, and it’s fun to see how crazy the fans can get. English fans are known to be intense.

On an episode of the British comedy Keeping Up Appearances, Onslow half-jokingly considers divorcing his wife when he discovers she’s a supporter (“fan” in British English) of Liverpool, the hated rival of his favorite soccer team, Everton. 

Other teams are known to be colorful. In past World Cups, when a stadium is drenched in orange, that means one thing: the Dutch National Soccer Team is playing.

So far, here are a few of my favorite teams:

Major League Soccer: I lean towards the Houston Dynamo. The closest we have to professional soccer here is San Antonio FC of the United Soccer League (sort of a minor league for the Major League Soccer).

Foreign national soccer team: Germany, as the Zowie family is from Deutschland. I’m hoping Die Mannschaft can make noise at this summer’s World Cup in Russia and repeat as champions.

Favorite foreign clubs: I don’t have a favorite English Premier League team yet, but in Germany I prefer SSV Jahn Regensburg, since that’s the area of Germany where my great-grandfather was from. In fact, Great-Grandpa’s hometown even has its own soccer club: FC Mötzing.

For now, here’s to the MFHS Mustangs FC for what has been a very exciting season!

Richard Zowie is the sports editor for the Highlander. In other sports, he’s a lifelong, diehard fan of both the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Astros. Send comments to:

Getting a shaved head for St. Baldricks invokes many memories

March 21, 2018 Leave a comment

I’ve always been picky about my hair, particularly hair cuts. Because my hair is thick and wavy, it doesn’t look good or even comfortable when grown out. My mother once told me if I grew it out, it would look very poofy. Think of Van Halen drummer Alex Van Halen in the band’s early days, when his hair was shoulder length long and looked like an overripe mushroom.

Two weeks ago, I started wondering about getting a haircut when I noticed St. Baldrick’s would be in Marble Falls for a head-shaving fundraiser.

Why not? I thought. My hair grows quickly, and it’s for a good cause.

So, I signed up.

The big question, whom should I do this in memory of? I’ve known a few people who’ve died from cancer and a few cancer survivors.

St. Baldrick’s focuses on childhood cancers, and as I thought, one name came to mind: Vivian.

The daughter of a high school classmate, Vivian as a little girl was diagnosed with cancer. Her parents had her see the best oncologists. Unfortunately, the doctors’ efforts were unsuccessful as Vivian died.

One of the most devastating things about cancer, particularly when it strikes children, is it often makes us ask the question, “Why?”

There’s never a definitive answer this side of eternity, because we as humans with finite, limited minds will never understand the mind of an infinite, eternal God. For now, the one thing I do know: cancer is one of the many ugly byproducts of living in a fallen world. I am certain, though, when He sees us crying over those suffering from cancer, He cries also.

So, as I sat down, and as the barber draped the apron over my chest, I thought, This is for you, Vivian. You might be gone and while I never had the chance to meet you, I can assure you: you are not forgotten.

In my Christian faith, I believe Vivian is in a much happier place now, all memory of her cancer and suffering gone. If she still has sorrow, it’s for her mother, father and family that still grieves her on earth.

And as I thought of Vivian, I thought of others I’ve known that cancer has impacted:
My father: who has had various forms of cancer. Dad is 81 and still alive, in part because doctors have consistently caught the cancer in early stages. I often thank God that Dad quit smoking in the early 1990s.

My college friend, Terry: who died from cancer in 2000. He left behind a wife and young daughter.

My friend, “Janet,” who is 40 and battling cancer in her lung and liver. The news isn’t good. She’s younger than I am an takes better care of herself. What gives?

I am reminded of the Gospel song “Farther Along” by W.B. Stevens:

“Tempted and tried, we’re oft made to wonder

Why it should be thus all the day long;

While there are others living about us,

Never molested, though in the wrong.

Farther along we’ll know more about it,

Farther along we’ll understand why;

Cheer up, my brother, live in the sunshine,

We’ll understand it all by and by.”

Vivian and Terry now understand. And someday, we will also.

This column was originally published earlier in March 2018 in the (Marble Falls) Highlander. Post comments here or email them to:

Lady Mustangs, Flames have made basketball exciting to watch

March 16, 2018 Leave a comment

Note: This column was originally published earlier in March 2018 in the (Marble Falls) Highlander newspaper.

Serving as sports editor of The Highlander has made me remember how much I like watching basketball.

I was terrible at it in high school, what little you could call a “career” consisted of a few years in P.E. class and one single shot made.

Being just shy of 5’8”, and even when I was in shape in my U.S. Army days, I could never play basketball to save my life. Requires too much coordination. And accurate shooting.

Because I stink at playing it, I prefer to report on it and avoid second-guessing a coach unless I see a play that looks odd.

But while I can’t play it, basketball is definitely fun to watch.

By basketball, specifically, I mean non-professional.

In recent years, the NBA has become far too political and it’s always had more than its share of prima donnas. Ok, Gregg Popovich, you don’t like Donald Trump. I get it. My grandmother didn’t gripe that much when my uncle (her youngest son) was shipped to Vietnam. Focus on adjusting to no longer having Tim Duncan and less on who occupies 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest.

I’ll never forget LeBron James holding an hourlong TV special, “The Decision,” in 2010 just to announce he was signing with the Miami Heat. You’d think he’d gone to the Korean peninsula and had successfully reunited the North and South.

Here’s another example of why I don’t care much for the pros: while watching Sports Center several years ago and catching highlights, I’d often see of one certain player: he’d come up court, dribble the ball, keep dribbling, dribble more, dribble and finally take a shot.

He’d usually put up close to 30 points a game, but he never won an NBA championship. Apparently, he forgot basketball is a team sport.

I like to watch college basketball (Kansas, University of Texas at San Antonio and University of Houston are favorite teams) and, locally, Marble Falls High School and Faith Academy Basketball for the same two reasons: it’s about team and not about one individual. Players will bring the ball up court and instead of looking for a lane to drive to the hoop or an open spot for a three-pointer, they look around and see who’s open.

Unless it’s a fast break where they see a quick window of opportunity, the ball often gets passed several times before someone takes a shot. It reminds me of how Indiana and Texas Tech head coach Bob Knight used to require his players to pass the ball five times before taking a shot.

The high school basketball season might be over, now that the Girls from Marble Falls and Faith Academy have been knocked out, but both teams have left a lot to be proud about. They worked as teams. They played defense. They took shots when they were there and if the shots weren’t there, they passed to a teammate. Their passes were often quick and crisp, the kind designed to arrive in an open teammate’s hands quickly.

Marble Falls will have to make things work next year without Mya McMillian and Aubree Adams, but perhaps they’ll see their third consecutive season in the playoffs. And perhaps Faith Academy will continue building their program and once again make the post season.

The dunks, endorsement deals and television contracts might be non-existent, but high school basketball in Marble Falls is far more exciting to watch than anything the NBA has to offer.

And until next season, we’ll have to keep ourselves occupied in the coming weeks with March Madness. With my renewed interest in watching basketball, I’m even going to fill out a bracket.

Richard Zowie is sports editor of the Highlander newspaper. He likes the Houston Astros in baseball, Detroit Red Wings in hockey and is taking a hiatus from football until the NFL gets a competent commissioner. Send comments to

Catching up with Canyon Lake High School

January 11, 2018 Leave a comment

Back in 2004, what is now Canyon Lake High School near Fischer, Texas was just a non-descript, wooded area. While working for a nearby newspaper, I covered the groundbreaking ceremony. I don’t remember if it was prior or after, but I also covered a school board meeting where they decided on the three big things: the name, school colors and mascot.

The name: one member suggested the name Ronald Reagan High School, given that Comal County is one of the staunchest Republican counties in Texas. That name was declined, since, as someone else pointed out, there was already a Reagan High School in San Antonio.

And so it came down to two names: Sorrel Creek High School (after the small creek that flows into the north side of Canyon Lake, a name chosen because of a concern Canyon Lake would be confused with nearby high school New Braunfels Canyon) or Canyon Lake High School (due to the name of the nearby manmade reservoir, located about two miles to the south).

They chose Canyon Lake High School.

The colors: Red, blue and purple were all out, since those were the colors of nearby schools. Someone suggested black and gold. Back in those days, black was the new black* and it seemed like college and professional sports teams without black in their color schemes were looking for ways to incorporate the popular non-color**.

Someone finally pointed out the obvious: Texas gets hot in the summer, so why not choose a different color?

They did. Green and gold. But not the pretty Kelly green shade I was imagining, but rather the dark, hunter green. If enough sweat accumulates on a jersey in the humid Texas heat, the dark green would look either midnight green or black, I thought. Well, looking at their current jerseys shows their choice wasn’t too bad.

The mascot: I personally thought a Duck would be perfect, given the school’s aquatic name, but after a brief discussion, they chose Hawks.

I was reminded of this tonight while getting soccer photos of Marble Falls playing Canyon Lake. Some of the girls wearing Canyon Lake jackets were but toddlers when school began.

When I asked the girls about their school, one comments I often heard: “Why did they call it Canyon Lake? Everyone keeps thinking we’re New Braunfels Canyon!”

“Why did they choose the Hawk as our mascot? I think an Eagle would’ve been cooler!”

“Someone suggested black as a color? They might as well have worked it in. We wear black on many of our uniforms.”

* Whether it was a pun or a play on words, it was definitely intended.

** Technically, black is not a color but, rather, the complete absence of color.

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‘Get Out’ movie–loved it!

January 7, 2018 Leave a comment


It’s been a long time since I posted a movie review, in part because I haven’t seen many movies lately. The last one I saw in the theater was Star Wars Rogue One, which I found boring. You know how this goes: I tell you what I liked, what I didn’t like and then I tell you overall what I thought. You decide for yourself from there.

Get Out is a psychological thriller involving a young black man doing something that would still be considered controversial in certain areas of America–dating a white woman. Daniel Kaluuya plays Chris, a young black photographer who takes the next step in his relationship with his girlfriend (Allison Williams): the two of them visit her family for the weekend. We can surmise their relationship is getting serious for this to happen.

As Chris visits, he notices some strange things: his girlfriend’s family is overly friendly and seems wrecked with white guilt. The father makes a major issue over the fact that he voted for Pres. Barack Obama twice, freely assuming perhaps that every black person in America supported Obama.

He also notices that the family’s servants are all blacks and seem happy. Too happy. Perhaps it’s like being in a utopian 1950s sitcom where everybody liked Ike and the U.S.–despite being in the Cold War–was in peace time following the cease-fire that put an “end” to the Korean War.

And when he takes a picture of a black acquaintance who’s visiting, he behaves oddly, as if breaking out of a trance.

Chris texts a picture of the acquaintance to a black friend who works airport security in New York, and the friend recognizes the acquaintance of a black friend who has been reported missing.

The friend then tells Chris: “Get out.”

Chris does leave, but only after realizing why everybody seemed so artificially cheerful, which included the black maid and a young black man on the grounds.

What I liked: Get Out was different and difficult to predict. Jordan Peele, a Mad TV alumnus making his directorial debut, nailed it. The movie’s story line gives you a lot to think about as the family’s plans are slowly revealed. My favorite part is when Chris looks through some photographs his girlfriend has, realizing who she really is, and being completely shocked by the final photograph.

What I didn’t like: Almost nothing. Some saw this as a movie making fun of whites, but I really didn’t see it like that. I saw it as a great piece of storytelling.

I try to limit the DVDs I purchase to only the great ones to add to my personal collection, but I may eventually buy Get Out. Overall, I liked it. A lot.

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Haven’t seen the new Star Wars movie

January 2, 2018 Leave a comment

star wars poster

I had an Army friend who watched Star Wars movies countless times. He once boasted, “I know more about Star Wars than George Lucas does.” This, of course, made Lucas weep uncontrollably and scream, “All that work and research for NOTHING!” This friend then almost was hospitalized with a life-threatening seizure after another soldier admitted he had never seen Star Wars. Ever.

I’ve seen them all except for the newest one: The Last Jedi…or is it called The Jedi Returns Again, or The Jedi Strikes Back?

Why haven’t I seen it? Dunno. Maybe I’d rather just watch it on Netflix at home. Or maybe I find it creepy that you can go to movie theaters and see movie goers dressed as stormtroopers, Luke Skydancer or Skywalker, Darth “Daddy” Vader or some other character as if it’s Halloween.

I think another reason I’ve not seen it yet is because I feel it’s overhyped. Star Wars fans really are fanatical about the movie, evidenced by the heated debates that are divided into three camps: “Han Shot First!”, “Greedo Shot First!” and “How on EARTH could Greedo miss from POINT BLANK RANGE?!” I still find it amusing that Greedo speaks Greedish (or whatever his native language is called) while Han understands him, understands in English and Greedo understands him.

Here’s how I’d rate them: I loved Episodes IV, V and VI (I hate roman numerals), didn’t care for Episode I, found II dull and hated III. Anakin’s conversion to the Dark Side seemed silly, and to me too much emphasis seemed to be on special effects and not enough on character development, script writing and casting people who could actually act.

I am mystified by one thing: how has it Kylo Ren has never burned himself what his unorthodox lightsaber design?

Richard Zowie prefers the Alien franchise. His favorite pastime is to take Star Wars action figures (when their owners aren’t looking) and tear open the box, so the item loses 99.99979% of its value. Post comments here or email

Episode VII was better than I expected, and all Rogue was good for was for napping.