WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - The Rider High School practice fields will now be named the Morris K. Mercer Athletic Fields, after the Raiders unveiled the new name and sign on May 3rd.
"Kenny Haney, he kind of brought it to our site base committee and proposed that we name the athletic fields after Morris Mercer," explained Rider head coach Marc Bindel. "You know, these fields a lot of people in town are using them even when we are not practicing on them. In the evening, a lot of people from around the community come and use them so we felt like giving them a name would be a good idea."
Morris Mercer is a very important figure in Rider High School history. He was the second football coach at the school and he also is credited with coming up with the well known Rider school slogan.
"He also was the wininngest coach in Rider football history," coach Bindel said. "And he's done a lot for the sport not only just for football but really bringing Rider together. He kind of invented 'ROHO' and 'Ride on Honorable One' and was the head coach at a time where the town, and really the school, needed to be brought together. And so we didn't think that there was a better way to honor him and his legacy than naming the fields after him."
Coach Bindel got to meet Coach Mercer, and he even coached along side one of Coach Mercer's sons at Rider.
"I got to know him a little bit, his younger son Bill Mercer was a coach here at Rider for 19 years and I got to coach with him for about five or six years," said coach Bindel. "And so before he passed away, old coach Mercer was always around, and he and I would kind of talk. And he would give me advice on running the ball and not throwing it as much, and so it was good to get to know him, just to kind of be around him and watch how he interacted with former coaches and his son."
ROHO has become a sign of family for the Raiders and coach Bindel thinks it's important for the current and future Raiders to see how special ROHO can be for them.
"As coach [Jim Garfield] kind of came up with the 'One Family, One Team,' that goes right along with ROHO -- Ride on Honorable One", explained coach Bindel. "And ROHO means a lot of things to a lot of people. During the ceremony it was special to have Mr. Kenny Haney and Marty McBride and even Coach Bill Mercer come up and talk about what ROHO means to those guys, and how even after all these years how special it is. And so it's cool to see how the kids now that are going through Rider, whether an athlete or not, that they get to carry on that legacy. And everybody is a part of it, and it just brings our school closer together."
Rider will wrap up its spring football practice with their annual Spring Game on Friday, May 18th at Memorial Stadium.