HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO)— Israel Gonzalez II took on the position of Harlingen High School South’s head football coach just under two months ago and is bringing about some changes.
“We’ve made some renovations — some revamps — to our decal for our helmet, just trying to be positive and motivate a little excitement in the new change in our coaching staff,” he said.
Booster President Julie Gonzalez said the team is excited and the new design is serving as a confidence booster.
“I can tell you from experience, my son when I drop him off and pick him up from practice in the morning, he’s very excited about it — about the changes and what’s to come,” she said.
But not everyone is a fan of the new look.
“It’s very similar to the bird on the other side of town,” Harlingen South High School class of 2000 graduate Dr. Lizette Goodloe said.
Harlingen south was established in 1993.
“It was difficult 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 has amassed more than 600 signatures.
“It shows you how those kids bit into that program that we brought in,” former coach Alex Leal said.
Leal was the school’s first football coach and led the team through seven winning seasons.
“I’m very appreciative of Harlingen South,” he said. “They’ve got great young men and great tradition.”
While he says he understands the sentiment behind the petition, he believes the coach is just 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 taking a program that’s pretty down right now — very down — and he’s, I’m sure, looking for every little strand of hope trying to develop it.”
At this point, Dr. Goodloe doesn’t see the helmets changing back but has contacted the school to see about having alumni visit to share their stories.
“We are supportive of the new coach and his energy and we know he’s going to bring some excitement to the program,” she said. “This is all about the kids that are there and for them to understand the history of the school.
“When people don’t understand and know the history of a school, that removes a lot of the identity and almost erases it. And we don’t want our history to be erased.”