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.


NFL playoffs? Not a chance

December 31, 2017 Leave a comment

Prior to today, the final day of the NFL regular season, the only time I watched the Dallas Cowboys play was on Thanksgiving. They played against San Diego and lost, that’s all I remember.

I briefly watched today as the Cowboys defeated the Philadelphia Eagles. As I watched (for about five minutes in the fourth quarter, when the game was still up for grabs), I noticed there were a lot of empty stands.

A longtime friend and an acquaintance on Facebook both pointed out two good points: a) It’s a late-season, meaningless game, since the Eagles are a lock for the playoffs and b) It was very cold. Both explained the lack of fans, one of my friends, Lance, said.

Lance is right about one thing: empty seats should be viewed in the appropriate context.

However, I couldn’t help but wonder why the camera on the game did so more from an aerial view rather than the view where you can see some of the stands in the background. And, of course, there’s talk the NFL has lost millions of dollars off lost viewership. Even if all the empty seats have some rational explanation unrelated to taking a knee, the lack of viewership speaks volumes.

Why my hiatus from watching? I’ve grown tired of the whole Colin Kaepernick controversy where NFL players take a knee during the National Anthem to protest social injustice in America. Specifically, police and those who practice racial oppression.

I keep wondering, when are the protesters going to protest all the black-on-black crimes that are so pervasive in America?

And as for white privilege, most of the protesting athletes will make more in a month than I’ll make in a lifetime. Would this opportunity exist for them if they grew up in a socialist country? Where else in the world can these athletes make millions of dollars a year? Well, there’s soccer in Europe, but that’s a different sport from football.

I have dear friends, even conservatives, who choose to watch NFL games still. That’s their decision, and I respect it. As a veteran, I find it highly insulting. I served so people would have the right to freedom of speech, not so that that overpaid, spoiled brats can sound off.

You’re free to disagree with me, but for me, until these players grow up, I have no desire to watch them play.

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Remembering Jennifer the gentle messenger

September 17, 2017 Leave a comment

“Hello, I’m Jennifer,” said the lady, who looked to be in her late 20s.

She had long dark hair and looked stylish, a lifetime meticulous dresser, in her blouse and miniskirt. As pretty as she looked, she would’ve been perhaps beautiful if not for being about 50 pounds underweight. Her frame, what little flesh remained on her face, arms and legs, looked skeletal.

“How many of you know someone who is HIV positive?” she asked.

I was an Army soldier in a group of service members from various branches. Maybe three out of the 25 raised their hands. This was intended to be an HIV briefing when I was stationed in 1998 at the Lackland Air Force Base Annex.

Seeing only three raised their hands, Jennifer smiled and replied, “Well, now, all of you do.”

Jennifer was with a San Antonio HIV foundation (I believe it was the San Antonio AIDS Foundation) and briefed us on the latest on the deadly STD: that any potential “cure” was still in the infancy stages, that retired NBA star Magic Johnson wasn’t cured of HIV despite being in excellent overall health, that HIV is the virus, and AIDS means the virus has wreaked such havoc on the body that the body’s immune system is now fatally compromised.

She also told us that AIDS was not just a homosexual disease as many thought in the Eighties. Heterosexuals could also get it, and not only through sexual contact. Some got it through tainted blood transmissions.

Yes, of course, someone’s curiosity got the better of them. “How did you get HIV?” they asked.

Without batting an eye, she told them a sexual partner gave it to her.

That was almost 20 years ago. There’s no Jennifer listed on the Website, and the gentleman in charge of public relations there tells me she doesn’t sound familiar. My intuition tells me she’s no longer with us. She was a nice lady in spite it all. To borrow a powerful line from the movie Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior: she now exists only in my memory.

If you know about Jennifer and where she is, please email me at 


School names, school names…

September 6, 2017 Leave a comment

Last we checked in with San Antonio public schools, administrators voted to rename Robert E. Lee High School to something ostensibly more politically correct and less likely to cause violence. Some consider the name an embarrassing nod to America’s “racist past,” and others feel it honors Lee, whom they consider “an officer and a gentleman.”

Others have wondered where it will end. Shouldn’t Jefferson and Jay High Schools change their names, since their namesakes were slave owners? Perhaps Kennedy High School, named after serial skirt chaser JFK should receive a name that’s less misogynistic.

The Hispanic news website News Taco suggested the new name perhaps should be named after someone Hispanic, since no high schools in San Antonio are named after anyone who’s Tejano.

As I pondered this, a few names came to mind of Hispanics who’ve had big influences in San Antonio. Even though my politics are different from theirs, I thought of Henry Cisneros (the city’s second Hispanic mayor) and the late Carlos Guerra (a longtime newspaper columnist who campaigned for Hispanic rights and educational opportunities) and the late San Antonio Archbishop Patrick Flores.

There was also another name I thought of, a well-known San Antonian who’s still alive. When I messaged him, he thanked me but said there were others more deserving.

One friend made yet another suggestion: why not name high schools the way New York City does? P.S. (Public School) 1, P.S. 2, P.S. 3, etc.

That’s a harmless compromise–unless you hate math and find numbers offensive.