Estacado championship team returns to celebrate 50 years - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Estacado championship team returns to celebrate 50 years

Matadors team returns for 50th anniversary (Source: KCBD Video) Matadors team returns for 50th anniversary (Source: KCBD Video)
Mighty Mighty Matadors by Al Pickett (Source: KCBD Video) Mighty Mighty Matadors by Al Pickett (Source: KCBD Video)
Matador Nation (Source: KCBD Video) Matador Nation (Source: KCBD Video)
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) -

The first integrated high school in Lubbock kicked off their year-long 50th anniversary celebration on Tuesday.

Estacado High School became the first integrated high school in 1968. That same year, the Matador's football team went to the championship, and won, something no first year varsity team has ever been able to do in the state of Texas.

Al Pickett's book, 'Mighty, Mighty Matadors,' written to commemorate that tremendous win, was released during the celebration.

Some of the original 1968 team was at the 50 year celebration, along with former head coach Jimmie Keeling.

Pickett said the environment that team worked in encouraged him to tell the story of the team and their head coach.

"1967 to 1968 were some of the most turbulent years in America," he said, "[The] Martin Luther King assignation, [the] Bobby King assassination - they were the first integrated school in Lubbock. They overcame all of the potential problems and bonded as a team and went 14 and 0 and won a state championship. They're the only school in Texas to win a state championship in their first year of varsity football. Nobody else has done it before or since."

Pickett said there were some important lessons to be learned from the story of this championship.

"I think the lesson to be learned is to get along with everybody, putting team above self. They decided they wanted to be the best football team. The thing that amazed me is that they're all still great friends now. It's almost 50 years later, and they're still great friends, brown, black and white."

Current principal of the school, Angelica Wilbanks, added that while many things have changed at the school since the 1968 team was there, there is one main thing that stays the same.

"The teachers here, back in 1968 loved being here and loved their students, well that's the one thing that we still have, that's here, is that our teachers still love being here and love our students," she said.

The Matadors will continue their year-long, 50th anniversary celebration with more events including a community parade, a pep rally and more.

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