Editor’s Note: Writer Bonda Suzanne Hale Butler is sharing a four-part series in why she thinks voters should vote yes for the COCISD Bond on Nov. 7. The first part can be found in the Oct. 12 edition of the News-Times. The third part will be in the upcoming edition of the News-Times on Thursday, Oct. 26.
By Bonda Suzanne Hale Butler
For many years, I was known as the “Global Table Tennis Mom.” Why? I served on the board of USATT, organized the first international junior training exchanges, worked for ABC Wide World of Sports at the 1985 TT World Championship in Sweden, was organizer and team leader for a 1984 USA junior boys team, the first USA team of any sport to train in China.
At the 1995 World Cup in Atlanta, my son Jimmy (World #70) led the USA team to a bronze medal and received the most valuable player award. It was the highest finish for the USA men in 52 years. Afterwards, the top French player, #10 in the world, who Jimmy had just defeated, approached me. “I’ll bet if my Mom had been here, I would have won!”
I was appointed TT Athlete Services Coordinator for the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. One of my most satisfying moments there was being united with my good friend Xu Yinsheng, President of China TTA and of the International Table Tennis Federation. His first words to me were: “We made a deal. I loaned you World Champion Li Henan, one of our best national team coaches. I was to receive a top USA swimming coach. You made Henan a US citizen and I never got my swimming coach!”
“So sorry,” I begrudging replied. “I tried hard, but the USA can’t assign US citizens to jobs without their permission. I taught Henan’s husband my real estate expertise ,and he has just completed the first owner occupied apartment building ever built in China. Isn’t that a fair exchange?” Xu smiled and gave me a hug.
My husband Richard (2014 USATT Hall of Fame) was one of two TT competition managers for the Atlanta Olympic and Paralympic Games. For 18 years, he and I were the national TT competition managers for the National Junior Olympic Championships. When that event was held in San Antonio in 1989, we became those people who “weren’t born in Texas, but got here as fast as we could.”
Jimmy moved to Texas first. After the 1996 Olympics, Houston became a major hotbed of professional table tennis activity and he has lived there since. He won his fourth national men’s singles title and became the oldest ever North American Champion at age 44.
We moved to Coldspring in 2006 along with our custodial grandson, Luc and TBI intellectually disabled daughter, his mother. Our focus became making opportunities for Luc’s HeartDesire as we had for our other five children.
As Luc aged he became interested in basketball. Why? My father had been a semi pro player in the Detroit area and it was Uncle Jimmy’s favorite sport. Jimmy is currently heavily invested in coaching Houston Rockets stars for Charity table tennis tournament participation.
When Luc entered Lincoln Junior High this fall, he was pumped with HeartDesire to participate in basketball. I knew that there was no air conditioning in the Elementary school gym, but was appalled by the condition of the athletic facilities in the secondary schools. At Lincoln Junior High, Luc has physical education first hour. The locker room is a ghastly place from the dark ages. With no toilets and shower availability, students have to endure a dried-sweat-stinking-body in the rest of their classes. The weight room is in a small inadequate aged temporary building near condemned temporary buildings. The metal bleachers in the gym have sharp edges that are dangerously unpadded.
The weight room at the high school is small and inadequate. The press box at the football stadium is old, small and dangerous –– sways when loaded with people. The track surface is cracked and needs replacing. New bleacher seating and restrooms are desperately needed. The antiquated football scoreboard works with great difficulty. COCISD visitor accommodations for teams and their fans are embarrassing.
A successful Bond election will provide the crucial funding to remedy this situation. The brilliantly prepared plan will increase safety, and repair the guts of dilapidated Athletic and other teamwork training facilities. What’s the cost? The average able-bodied homeowner under age 65, will pay a yearly amount that breaks down monthly to the cost of a PIZZA!
At Jimmy’s Table Tennis Hall of Fame Induction in 2011, he said: “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. It’s not what you are underneath, but what you do that defines you.” Are you the taxpayer, going to use your pizza to feed our kids HeartDesire in a productive SAFE (Success - Affection - Fun - Excellence) COCISD environment?
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