Luz Pedraza, a member of the 1961 state champion Donna High School Redskins, was elated when he heard that a piece of his team’s history was found and returned to the school.
The former quarterback recently visited the DHS Athletic Office and was told that the brass holder used to display the actual football from the championship game had been recovered.
Pedraza said seeing the original football holder brought back many memories. “Anytime somebody mentions something about the team, it brings back a lot of good memories,” the 72-year-old Pedraza said.
The football holder which had the words “1961 State Champions” engraved on it was delivered to the Donna Independent School District’s administration office recently by local city officials. The item had been mailed to City Hall by Fred Closuit from Athens, Texas.
Pedraza said he was taken aback by Closuit’s actions. “It’s unbelievable that somebody would go to that much trouble to save something like that and it wind up back here in Donna,” Pedraza said.
Closuit explained how the football holder wound up in his possession. “My understanding is that the holder was found either in a closet or the attic in the Athens lake house my grandfather built in the late 1950s or early 1960s by the caretaker who works there now,” Closuit said. “The lake house was sold ‘as is’ with furniture, boats, fishing rods and all in the late 1970s so I am sure there were a few items that were missed in the move out.”
Closuit said he did not know how the football holder found its way into his grandfather’s house because his granddad has since passed away. Closuit could only guess. “I have thought about it and can only imagine that my granddad had a friend from south Texas who was up to visit and left the holder by accident,” Closuit said. “Granddad had lived in San Antonio in the 1950s and spent some time in south Texas hunting and working in the oil and gas fields.”
Closuit said instead of doing nothing, he decided to do some research to find out more about the holder. “I played football and loved and played many other sports growing up,” Closuit said. “A state title is difficult to obtain so I was curious about where this trophy had come from.”
He tracked the holder to Donna ISD. “I thought historically, it belonged to the town that had won it,” Closuit said. “I did not know if it was one of a kind or if there were 25 more of these scattered around Donna. I just knew it was best to pass it back. I did notice that Donna had not won a title in a while. Sometimes seeing that a team was a champion can be motivation to become a champion again.”
Pedraza couldn’t be happier that Closuit sent it back. “For us players to accomplish what we did is unheard of,” Pedraza said. “I’m very grateful that man took care of it because anything that happened that year is history. A lot of today’s kids don’t know that. You talk about it and they don’t know. It’s something that needs to be kept alive because I don’t know if a state championship will ever be duplicated again by any team here in the Valley.”