Athletics office staff says goodbye to Frontier Bowl

Hours before the sun rose, football fans were standing in lines wrapped around the Harlandale ISD athletics office for a chance at a Frontier Bowl ticket on Monday.

First in line for Harlandale High School tickets were Debra Rivas and Joanne Perez, who camped out since Sunday at 4 a.m.

McCollum High School fans Delia Alcorta and Michelle Loera camped out since Sunday at 11 a.m and were first in line for Cowboys tickets.

Inside the athletics office, Administrative Assistants Mary Helen Chavez and Abigail Garcia were preparing for a long day of sales.

While one look at the lines might evoke anxiety, Chavez and Garcia remained calm. After all, this wasn’t their first rodeo. Both of them were celebrating two decades of selling Frontier Bowl tickets and their very last year at Harlandale ISD. Garcia will retire in January and Chavez plans to retire in June.  

After a 21 year career as athletics director, Coach Rudy de Los Santos will also be retiring in June.

The whole athletics office didn’t plan to retire the same year, it just happened to be that way.

“I think it’s time for someone new to come in,” De los Santos said. “I think that 21 years is a long time for one person to have so much say over athletics.”

In their two decades together, the trio saw an increase in girls participating in sports, they implemented season tickets, added new sports and saw the football field change from grass to artificial turf.

What remains constant though is the community’s enthusiasm for Frontier Bowl, regardless of how well the season went.

“Our community is in a way separate from San Antonio and we’re like a small town in itself,” De los Santos said. “The game is an annual event for the community to get together and therefore the records don’t matter. We’ve had teams that were very good and teams that weren’t very good, but you throw out the records when you play in this ball game. It’s about community pride.”

De Los Santos started his coaching career at Leal Middle School in 1979 and after two years, he moved on to Harlandale High School where he was head football coach for 13 years. After a short stint at Weslaco, he came to Harlandale ISD in 1996 and took on the position of athletics director.

Garcia and Chavez both worked in payroll before joining the athletics department.  

“Honestly, I think they will be missed more than me,” De Los Santos said. “The coaches work with them the most, they know their job and the coaches trust them.”

All three of them still plan to attend Frontier Bowl even after they retire.

“This will be Frontier Bowl number 36 for me and I would love to keep coming, if I can get a ticket,” De los Santos said. 

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