Friday Night Lights

Friday Night Lights

In true Texas fashion, some coworkers and I spent Friday night beneath the bright lights of a high school football stadium. Giddings State School—one of five state-run secure detention facilities for kids in Texas—faced off against Hill Country Christian School of Austin in their first football game of the season.

Arriving at the stadium in Cedar Park, we were worried that there wouldn’t be more than a handful of folks there to root for the boys from Giddings. Instead, we were happy to discover a rowdy group of folks dressed in royal blue and white (the Giddings colors), armed with pom-poms, noise-makers, and handmade light-up posters. The Giddings section, though not nearly as big as the home team’s section, made a surprising amount of noise!

After we found a seat and got settled, I decided to ask some of the rowdiest folks if I could take a picture of them in all of their Giddings garb. To my surprise, right in the middle of the pack was Camille Cain—the Texas Juvenile Justice Department’s Executive Director. It turns out she’s the one who found the light-up posters, a fact I took note of for my own future poster-making. Other agency staff were also in attendance, along with family members of some of the players. 

Giddings’ small football team competes off campus as part of the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS). When I asked Director Cain if they had a volunteer or a staff person coaching the boys, she told me “Oh, we’ve got a real coach—this is Texas.” That coach is Sandy Brown, and he’s been coaching and teaching physical education at Giddings since 1979. Recently, Coach Brown and the Giddings State School were featured in Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine. The feature read, “No coach in the state does a better job than Brown, who has accumulated a 162-124-4 record in 39 years at Giddings State School; he understands that football isn’t just a game for boys in the juvenile correction center—it’s an opportunity to excel in a positive structure.”

Friday’s game was a nail-biter until the very end. Unfortunately, we had to leave during the fourth quarter, but not long after we left I received a message from Director Cain. While Giddings was 20 points down earlier in the quarter, they climbed back and then scored in the last few seconds to win 77 to 74!

If you’d like to show up and support Giddings this season, here’s a list of their remaining games:

  • 9/6 @7:30pm vs. Waco Vanguard College Prep
  • 9/14 @7:30pm vs. San Antonio Bracken Christian
  • 9/28 @7:30pm vs. Austin Concordia
  • 10/5 @ 7:30pm vs. Seguin Lifegate Christian School
  • 10/11 @7:30pm vs. Houston Emery/Weiner
  • 10/19 @7:30pm vs. San Antonio Christian School at Castle Hills
  • 10/26 @7:00pm vs. San Antonio Lutheran
  • 11/2 @7:30pm vs. Katy Faith West Academy
  • 11/9 @7:30pm vs. Sugar Land Logos Prep Academy

The Gainesville State School, which is closer to Dallas/Fort Worth, also has a football team. Their first game was Friday night as well, and they defeated Forestburg in a 46-0 blowout! Here’s a list of their remaining games:

  • 9/21 @7:30pm vs. Milford Christian Academy
  • 9/28 @7:30pm vs. Dallas Lakehill Preparatory School
  • 10/6 @TBD vs. Amarillo San Jacinto Christian Academy
  • 10/12 @7:30pm vs. Denton Calvary Academy
  • 10/19 @7:30pm vs. Dallas Lutheran School
  • 10/26 @7:00pm vs. Lucas Christian Academy
  • 11/9 @7:30pm vs. Rockwall Heritage Christian Academy
About the Author

Lindsey Linder, J.D.

Lindsey Linder

Lindsey Linder is the former Senior Policy Attorney for the Texas Center for Justice and Equity. Lindsey co-founded the Texas Women’s Justice Coalition, a statewide group of more than 60 system-impacted women and advocates calling for women’s justice, and she was a 2020 finalist for the Austin Under 40 Awards for her policy work and advocacy. During summer 2014, she interned with UNICEF in Tel Aviv, Israel, drafting a report on Israel’s implementation of the UN treaty Convention on the Rights of the Child to be submitted to the New York and Geneva United Nations headquarters for review. Lindsey first joined TCJE as a member of Senator Rodney Ellis’ Texas Legislative Internship Program, and she continued to support TCJE while completing law school, receiving her Juris Doctor with honors from Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 2016.

The Texas Criminal Justice Coalition is now the Texas Center for Justice and Equity! Learn More