Leopards youth football makes a comeback

WF leopards youth football
Published: Aug. 23, 2022 at 10:49 AM CDT
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - It’s been almost 30 years since there was a Wichita Falls Leopards team in the city, but they have now returned courtesy of the Boys and Girls Club. Booker T. Washington has a Leopards team once again.

Coaches are excited because the kids playing for this new Leopards team will more than likely be a part of the new Legacy High School Leopards once it opens.

However, the name goes beyond that. It’s also steeped in history and the coaches look forward to the impact the Leopards will once again have on the community.

“Being up here at Booker T., the Leopards mean a lot to a lot of people around here,” Jimmy Pipkin, head coach of the Leopards, said.

“Them bringing the Leopards back and them building up the new school Legacy, like I know my kids will eventually be going to legacy when they get older,” DJ Jordan, coach for the Leopards, said. “All my youth pretty much going to Legacy as well so just being a part of this is a blessing honestly.”

A Leopards team has returned to the Wichita Falls area for the first time since the 90s. At the Boys and Girls Club, kids are ready to win games and have fun with friends, but for the coaches it means something more: continuing a legacy and giving these kids something that they didn’t have growing up.

“I wanted to give back to the community and give all the knowledge that I have to the game, to kids and stuff like that because I didn’t have anybody to pretty much give me that when I was young,” Pipkin said.

“Them just depending on me to lead them and help them grow as young men, that is the most important part as well,” Jordan said.

“Some of us unfortunately have some adults in our lives that beat us down and tell us we are not good enough, we won’t succeed,” Simeon Hendrix, assistant coach for the Leopards, said. “To be able to give that to a child who has never heard that maybe, it is the best.”

The coaches said sports bring everyone together. Kids who may never interact with each other anywhere else work as a team during that practice or that game.

“Sports are great because it teaches life lessons,” Hendrix said. “It teaches the kids that you are going to hit in the face and you can get up, you are strong enough.”

The Booker T. Washington High School Leopards last played in 1969. The school was then closed and students were divided and sent to other high schools. But now, the Leopards name is making a comeback in both youth sports and high school. The coaches know how important it is to start this next generation off on the right foot.

“These boys that are on the field right now are going to be the same boys that are part of the Legacy Leopards,” Hendrix said. “The first Leopards team in some 55 years.”

While they have their eyes set on the prize, they want to emphasis the importance of being a student athlete and engraving that at a young age.

“Our goal is to teach them the right way, help them be leaders,” Jordan said. “Make sure they are doing good in school because that is the most important part too.”

Everyone involved is excited for the season to begin next month but regardless of how each team does this year, they are happy to be a part of history and to help raise the next generation of Leopards.