The man behind Robert Vela High School: Bringing down the hammer tradition

Local News
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(Source: KGBT)

Robert Vela was a beloved coach for the Edinburg High School Bobcats.

He passed away from stomach cancer in 2007. When Edinburg C.I.S.D needed a 4th high school, they knew Coach Vela needed to be honored.

His wife, Mrs. Dominga Vela, is huge influence in the school’s values. She helped in deciding the school’s colors: blue for the bobcats, black for the 13 years Vela coached the Elsa-Edcouch Yellow Jackets and gray for the north star where she says he is watching from.

Mrs. Vela, now a district board member, reads the last letter coach Vela wrote to his team before his passing.

She reads his later saying, ” ’always attend class, always be on time, and always do something extra’, and I think not only coach vela but parents, teachers and administrators, always say that to our students, but the very last line he put, he always put ‘always plan to win’ and that was coach vela, always planning to win.”

All around the campus you will find Coach Vela’s picture, to inspire students to excel on everything on and off the field.

When CBS 4 asked Mrs. Vela, what would Coach Vela say about his high school and football team, she said he would be smiling and he would say “we need to win Friday night.”


Bringing Down the Hammer

The Robert Vela high School football team brings down the hammer, before the start of every football game.  It is a tradition the team started in 2012, when the school opened its doors.

The sledge hammer signifies a blue collar mentality, starting from the bottom up.

Defense line coach, Jody Cantu, says they got the idea from journalist Jacob Riis.

Riis wrote about a stone cutter, swinging a hammer everyday until the rock finally split.

Riis realized that it wasn’t that final hit, but everything that came before it.

“Before each game, one of our captains grabs it and he bangs the turf, and lets everyone know we are here to work,” said Cantu.

The sledge hammer has multiple notches, one with 0-10 and then all the way up to a 12-1, this to symbolize the hard work Robert Vela has continued to do as a team.

Cantu says this mentality is for players and coaches on and off the field.

They want the best version of themselves every day.

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