If you’ve been on Facebook at all, you’ve probably at least seen photos of Comanche Indian football players with younger boys. From the captions about someones “little Indian,” I understood that the young men from the Comanche Indian football team were doing something with the younger kids, but I wanted to know exactly what that something was. Of course, I found someone to ask.
As it turns out, the Big Indian, Little Indian program was the brainchild of Tessa Nance and what she calls the Mothers Club.
“The new program will pair Varsity players as “Big Indians” who will serve as positive role models who represent the team, school and community with pride and integrity. The “Big Indians” will spend time with the “Little Indians” throughout the football season in order to show support and encourage positive attitudes in their Little Indian. The program is intended to foster positive relationships between varsity athletes and the upcoming future players.
“A lot of the little Indians look forward to seeing their big Indians and giving them goodie bags or wishing them luck each week. And, surprisingly, a lot of the Big Indians have done the same and make time in their day to spend just a little extra time with their little Indians.
“Of course this is our first year so it’s a trial and error type thing,” Nance went on to tell me.
After I had my facts down, I decided to interview Colten Jones to get his take on the program.
“During 2-a-days, Coach Hermesmeyer handed all of us a questionnaire to fill out. It asked our favorite places to eat, our favorite candy, our hobbies, and lots of things like that. At that point, we didn’t really know what it was all about.
“Then, about three weeks later, we became part-time parents,” he grinned, and considering that he is one of the boys who actually has two Little Indians assigned to him, Colten is probably only “sort of” kidding.
So, what do the Big Indians do with these Little Indians?
“I have two, and they are ages 9 and 10. Their parents sometimes bring them to the pep rallies with goodie bags for us, and we also have bags for them. These have little snacks and sometimes Gatorade and water in them.
“Then, we had one big gathering at a team dinner where all the Big Indians and the Little Indians got together and we all ate together.
“We also go to some of their pee wee games, where they play flag or tackle football. And we’ve gone to the Dairy Queen a couple of times to have ice cream. Obviously, the point is to be a good role model with younger children here in town.”
And has he learned something from the experience?
“For as long as I’ve been in athletics, I’ve heard how we are leaders, whether we want to be or not, that people are always watching us. I think it is easy to brush this off because we didn’t really see anyone watching us. The Little Indians have brought it home that there are hundreds of little eyes watching us all the time, and I think that influences how we act no matter where we are.
“It’s one thing for someone to say that people are watching, but it is another when you know your little watchers, and they have real faces and real eyes that know what we do and how we act.
“It doesn’t seem like a lot, but wherever I am, one of them seems to find me, whether it is in the store or just around town. We see them a whole lot in small increments because they are always looking for us.”
And while I’ve painted a perfectly rosy scenario, Colten did admit that working with Little Indians can be a bit challenging at times. After all, he’s a teen, and he hasn’t really learned a lot of patience yet. However, by his own admission, it’s also been a very good thing.
“I think being a leader is very important and I think this is a great way to let the older kids get some experience in dealing with younger ones who dream of being a Comanche Indian. We want the kids of Comanche to know that being an Indian is a big deal and that there are expectations and goals when they get to organized sports,” Coach Stephen Hermesmeyer told me.