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‘Back to school’ with Briles: Former BU coach surprises teachers at local school district’s convocation

Published: Aug. 17, 2021 at 2:09 AM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - From a stadium of tens of thousands...to a school gym of 90.

The former head football coach for Baylor University, Art Briles, gave the ‘Back to School’ convocation speech for the Aquilla Independent School District Monday.

“We’re coming off of real difficult year, and he knows what difficulty is all about,” said David Edison, Superintendent of Aquilla ISD.

Aquilla ISD’s “motto” for the 2021-2022 school year is “looking up,” which also happens to be the name of Briles’ book: Art Briles: Looking Up: My Journey from Tragedy to Triumph.

When asked how Edison managed to land the former Big 12 Coach of the Year, he said he contacted him about a coaching job which Briles politely declined.

“He’s very content, retired right now, so my next question was ‘hey would you come and speak with us?’” said Edison. “Without any hesitation he said ‘sure’, he’d love to come and speak with us at the beginning of the school year.”

Teachers and staff were shocked to see Briles in their gymnasium.

“He noticed the coaches table so he went over to them first, and immediately the coaches were so excited, I thought Coach Espinoza was going to fall out of his chair,” said Amanda Hill, Public Relations Officer for Aquilla ISD. “He’s from a small school as well and humble beginnings, so I feel like he really connected with all of us on that level.”

Briles, who grew up in the small town of Rule, had a mother who was a teacher and a father who was a coach and principal.

He lost both of them in a car crash in 1976.

District officials said his message was extremely hopeful and motivational and focused on making a difference off the field.

“It was really exciting, too, as an educator, to see someone at his level and from such humble beginnings...it just makes you realize that the lives that you’re impacting in the classroom...they really could do anything, they could be anybody,” said Hill.

Every Aquilla ISD employee got a copy of Briles’ book which he stayed to sign.

School starts for Aquilla ISD Wednesday, Aug. 25.

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