Your average high school football season lasts about three months, but the players and coaches know that the work far extends that time period, with spring and summer practices, 7-on-7 and several camps.
But sometimes the people that don’t have the lights shining down on them on Friday nights have a season that never ends, as they are usually the ones tasked with making sure games go off without a hitch, and the players have the proper equipment among many other responsibilities.
In San Marcos, the football season never truy ends for Rudy and Becky Espinoza, who are proud alumni of San Marcos High School and have been supporters of the football program for years.
Becky was recently voted in as the newest President of the booster club, and Rudy has been the concession manager for the past two seasons. But to just call them boosters, or just football boosters, is a name that is not at all indicative of the breadth of support they provide the school, district and community.
“I believe it is a thankless job. Our parent boosters work numerous hours to produce a great product in the concessions,” Rattlers head coach Mark Soto said. “In turn, it gives our kids money to sustain and improve our programs.”
While the San Marcos Rattlers’ season ended in the first round of the playoffs, the Espinozas, and many other volunteers have continued to work, even now as football spring practices have just begun.
“We went six weeks in the football season, but we went a total of sixteen weeks including the playoff games. That continued with the organization and the boosters, and other groups there and we still kept going,” Rudy recently told me during a visit to his family-owned auto shop, Rudy’s Automotive. “There’s always something going on. We’re always in constant contact with other groups and organizations, even during our offseason. Other groups are reaching out to us for products, ideas, helping them out, whether it be power lifting, wrestling or whatever. We help where we can.”
Rudy said something to me recently during an interview that may sound redundant at first, but it very succinctly shows the kind of dedication he and his wife have for the community.
“It’s a blessing to be a blessing,” he said.
Rudy and Becky realize that not only do they play their part, but they are blessed to be able to play a part at all.
Rudy and Becky’s latest blessing will be an event that, like always, will help more than just the football program that their son, Paul, is a part of. Along with the San Marcos Consolidated Independent School District and Soto, they have spearheaded the organization of Rattler Nation Cinco de Mayo Fest, which will take place next Friday and Saturday in the home parking lot of Rattler Stadium.
The two-day event should rival some major Fiesta events happening just 45 miles south of San Marcos on I-35 in San Antonio. It will feature several prominent Tejano bands, a full carnival, food, refreshment, arts & crafts and information booths. Student performance groups will also be a part of the event. The event was open to the entire district so the proceeds of the event will be funneled right back into district schools and programs.
Rudy said SMCISD Superintendent Michael Cardona came to town during the St. John’s Fiesta, which Rudy and Becky have organized for a total of four years for their parish. Apparently Cardona took a liking to the event and they idea came that down the road a similar event could be planned for the district.
“I was very impressed with Mr. Cardona to take the time to come out here and support us on a Saturday for one of our fundraisers, and to come down here and personally meet us and talk to us, and kind of find out some insight on the community and who we are and what we do,” Rudy said. “I think the community here is very strong. It embraces our youth. It takes a village and we’re very blessed to be part of that village. That’s how it kind of started.”
“He wanted an event that would embrace the community and the school district together. This took several months of planning, it wasn’t overnight. From simple things like measuring our footprint, doing all the logistics. There’s a lot that goes on in the background to put on an event of this magnitude and of course the next thing that popped into the thought was that our concessions are so successful because it embraces so many other groups and organizations, it embraces Rattler Nation. With our season, all of us are there, all hands on deck and we all do extremely well. We work with each other instead of having several functions at the same time. So I said why don’t we take that to the next level. Becky was thinking how about if we do it district-wide and open it to all the boosters and organizations. This will give them an opportunity to be exposed to a lot of people at one event.”
Rudy and Becky said the experience running the St. John’s Fiesta, the concessions, and several school and Knights of Columbus fundraisers armed them the experience and knowledge needed to put on an event of this magnitude.
“It definitely has exposed us to being able to work with a lot of good people, and get together for a common goal and good cause and be very productive and successful,” Rudy said. “All of that comes from experience and knowledge, and of course being able to do that with our parish and local groups have definitely given us the learning experience that we needed to handle stuff like this.”
As if the Espinozas didn’t have enough on their plate with raising a high school student, operating their auto shop and the thankless, long hours of presiding over the booster club and the concessions during the season, they continue to give in hopes of planting the seeds that were planted in them as students growing up in San Marcos.
“Most of all, we just want to continue to help the students in our district,” Becky Espinoza said.
“San Marcos is a community that embraces all students. They’re not going to pick and choose where they are only going to take care of the young kids. We take care of all of them. They want to open up the CTE center and San Marcos is in a new position where we’ve got so many industries and companies here and we can start customizing our workforce, so these students can be workforce-ready upon graduation and that’s very crucial, especially myself being part of the distributive education group and automotive technology of 1986,” Rudy said. “I can only imagine if I hadn’t had the opportunities that our school board and community had a vision for in high school. By trade, my father does roofing and remodeling and that’s what I was doing, but I was introduced to something new and I took a liking to it and I’ve been in business since 1992.”
The opportunity to make that same difference in the community’s youth continues to drive the Espinozas, as they look to give students every opportunity to become successful.
Rudy and Becky know that the seeds they continue to plant will eventually bear beautiful fruit.
“We’re producing a lot of good future leaders in our students and one day they are going to be in the positions that affect all of us, and I want to believe that they are going to take into consideration everything that they’ve been exposed to,” Rudy said. “We were blessed to have so many teachers that instilled their values in us. Not just teaching us academics, but how to be good people and be productive and that goes a long way.”
“There’s so many good and bad things that happen in this world, but there’s only so much one person can do, so I try to focus on the kids, because I know I can see my blood, sweat and tears,” Becky said. “I can see the product. I can see that my efforts are going to a good cause and I can see it with my own eyes. I’m not sending it off to somebody and not knowing what happens. The other thing is that this has exposed us to a lot of need that the school district has.”
Tickets for Rattler Nation Cinco de Mayo Fest will be $5 for adults, $3 for students 13-18, and all kids under 12 are free. More information, including the schedule and a full entertainment lineup can be obtained on the Facebook page.