HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) — Israel Gonzalez II took over as head football coach at Harlingen High School South just under two months ago and is making some changes.
“We’ve done a few renovations – a few redesigns – to our decal for our helmet, just trying to be positive and stoke some excitement in the new change in our coaching staff,” he said.
Booster President Julie Gonzalez said the team was thrilled and the new design served as a confidence booster.
“I can tell you from experience, my son when I drop him off and pick him up from training in the morning, he’s very excited about it – about the changes and what’s to come,” he said. she declared.
But not everyone is a fan of the new look.
“It’s very similar to the bird across town,” said Harlingen South High School Class of 2000 graduate Dr. Lizette Goodloe.
South Harlingen was established in 1993.
“It was hard during that first, I would say, five to 10 years to be able to establish that sense of hawk pride,” she said.
Dr Goodloe created a petition to reverse the change, which garnered over 600 signatures.
“It shows you how these kids have been involved in this program that we’ve put in place,” former coach Alex Leal said.
Leal was the school’s first football coach and led the team through seven winning seasons.
“I really enjoy Harlingen South,” he said. “They have great young men and a great tradition.”
Although he says he understands the sentiment behind the petition, he believes the coach is simply trying to move the team forward.
“His intentions, I’m sure, were never to destroy anything,” Leal said. “He wants to build and he’s on a program that’s pretty low right now – very low – and he’s, I’m sure, looking for every little bit of hope trying to build it up.”
At this point, Dr Goodloe does not see the helmets returning, but has contacted the school to see if it is possible to invite former students to share their stories.
“We support the new coach and his energy and we know he will bring enthusiasm to the program,” she said. “It’s all about the children who are there and for them to understand the history of the school.
“When people don’t understand and know a school’s history, it takes away a lot of the identity and almost erases it. And we don’t want our history erased.