They’re Roaring In Dublin!
Bob Cervetto doesn’t know it, but he’s been a household name in our home for several years. Rickey Jones likes nothing better than discussing football and football coaches, and Bob Cervetto is one of those coaches whose career he has followed. Of course, Dublin is a next door neighbor to Comanche, and the two towns share a lot of similarities, including football programs that have known some years of struggling and rebuilding.
All of this combined made me want to interview the coach who left an administrative position in Stephenville to get back into coaching, and I recently had an opportunity to do just that. What I found upon arriving at Dublin High School was a man so interesting and so entrenched in the idea of helping kids become all that they can be that I decided to travel all the way back to the beginning so that we all could walk the path that eventually brought Cervetto to Dublin.
Bob Cervetto graduated from McMurry in 1980, where he was a kicker for the War Hawks. He was married, with a wife still in school, so his first job was there in Abilene at Franklin Junior High, where he coached for one year.
The next year, the Cervettos accepted jobs in Stephenville, where Bob remained for the next 30 years and where his wife is still employed.
“They needed a math teacher/coach at Henderson Junior High, and I thought it was a great opportunity.”
Apparently it was more than that if you think about the lives of most coaches. How many have you known who were able to live in the same place for 30 years? When I mentioned that fact to Coach Cervetto, he laughed. He wasn’t nearly as impressed with the fact that Stephenville ISD had kept him for 30 years as he was with the fact that his wife hadn’t left him!
“In 1981, inflation was high and I was making $10,000 a year, plus $1,000 stipend for coaching 7th – 9th grade football, 7th grade basketball, 8th grade off-season, and 7th – 8th grade track. I was also the assistant varsity baseball coach and the JV baseball coach.
“We couldn’t afford to buy a home in Stephenville on my salary so my in-laws gave us 10 acres just outside of Dublin. My wife, Norma, was a pavement kind of girl, and I moved her to the sticks and into a 12 x 50 foot trailer house. I even had to take the bedroom door off because the room was too small to have a door in the way.
“We had an antenna so if the wind blew, we had no television, AND we had a four-person party line. I told her that one day we would look back and laugh about it all, but she sure wasn’t laughing then!”
Bob continued to think back upon those early days as he told me the story of how one night he came home from a booster club meeting in a pouring rain, only to see the family car stuck where it had slid off into a ditch. Norma had obviously been transporting the boards that still protruded from the windows. The man continued on to the house to find his wife.
“Looks like the car is stuck in the mud.”
“Well, let’s just chalk it up as another experience we can laugh about. We’ll go get the tractor and pull it out.”
Pulling himself back to the present for a moment, the coach laughed yet again while asking me to form a mental picture of Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor riding down the road on their Green Acres tractor.
As the couple pulled up to the vehicle, Norma said, “You don’t understand.”
“Well, I’m impressed that you got all those boards and were trying to get them home…”
“I had to crawl out of that car and walk in my heels and dress all the way up the muddy road, and then I found that I had left the key in the car so I had to crawl over the gate. I ripped my clothes…” his wife trailed off.
“And she is still with me all these years later…amazing!” Cervetto crowed.
The couple went on to build a house on their property which is actually in the Dublin ISD, and Bob Cervetto continued his career at the junior high school in Stephenville; however, he also coached at the high school.
“There was a three-year stint when I worked with Coach Loudermilk with the defense, and then Art [Bryles] came in 1988. I was one of the lucky ones who got to stay. From 1990 on I worked with the kickers. I stayed with kickers all the way from junior high through high school. I’d been a kicker in college, and I loved it. I always say that it was the best of both worlds. I was able to keep one foot in the carpet and one in the grass.”
This was especially important to Cervetto who became the assistant principal of the junior high in 1995.
“I dealt with discipline as the assistant principal. I was used to doing this in the field house anyway, and it was a great job that kept me involved with the kids. Then, it all came to a crashing halt. Our principal, Mr. Henderson, was 57 years old when my phone rang in January of 2007. He had had a massive heart attack. That night in the hospital I became the interim principal. Two weeks later, I was the principal.
“I do think that was exactly where I was supposed to be for the next four years, but I had lost what I really loved about the job…the kids and seeing them become successful. I loved the school, but I had so many other things to do that I quit having a connection with the kids, and I decided that it was about time for me to retire.”
Now, if you believe that there is a Divine Plan for each of us, you will understand what I mean when I say that obviously God had different ideas for Coach Cervetto, who had become Mr. Cervetto…and retirement wasn’t in The Plan.
“The Dublin School Board asked me if I would be interested in coaching in Dublin. Stephenville ISD and all of Stephenville had been very good to me, and I certainly didn’t want to burn any bridges, but it was fun just to interview and to talk about the possibility of working with kids…giving kids hope.
“It was great therapy. And then I got called back for a second interview and I’m thinking, ‘Dang! This is pretty cool!’ Being a head coach had been my original goal years before, but working with Art Bryles had made what I did at Stephenville so much fun…” he trailed off. “I had more coaches at Henderson Junior High than I do now here in Dublin,” Cervetto reflected.
“When the second interview invitation came, I went to Coach Greg Hardcastle. I told him that I had been asked back for a second interview and I wanted to know if he would come with me to Dublin if I should get the job. I wanted him to call plays and run the offense. Greg had done his student teaching with me in the 1990s, and we were very close. He and his wife agreed that Greg would join my staff if I got the job, which I still thought was a long shot. The board asked me if I would be willing to live in Dublin, not knowing that I had been paying taxes to Dublin for over 30 years!”
It wasn’t long before Bob Cervetto was the head coach of the Dublin Lions, a team that was struggling to say the least.
“I knew Divine intervention had come into place because that was the only way I could have gotten the job over others with more experience,” he confided. “I came to Dublin in the spring of 2011, and we were frozen over for the first five days.”
Of course, I was already laughing when the word over followed the word frozen, knowing exactly what his friends must have said to him about the move! And yet, there he was in ’11…in Dublin, Texas…Bob Cervetto, who had given up an administrative career in Stephenville to coach the Dublin Lions, a team that had gone 0-10 in the preceding season and 1-9 the year before that.
“In the preceding two seasons, the Lions were 1-19. There were 20 kids suited up at the end of the 2010 season, and there were 18 in off-season when I arrived in February of 2011.”
Cervetto brought with him offensive coordinator, Greg Hardcastle, and defensive coordinator and head baseball coach, Steve Carroll, and they went to work; however, his greatest motivation, believe it or not, came from the school cafeteria.
“You really think you can do something with those boys?” one of the lunchroom ladies asked the brand new head coach.
“I told her she had just motivated me and for her to remind me of it every single day, which she does!”
And then the work began in earnest…
“The first thing we had to do was to develop a relationship with the kids. That was first and foremost; if you don’t do that, you can preach till your heart’s content, but kids don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Over the past almost four years, I’ve done more home visits than I ever did as an assistant principal.
“That first year, I had 14 kids go AWOL on our first morning in pads. When practice was over, I called us all together. I split us into two teams and got one of our kids to show us where the missing players lived. We had mamas crying because they were so happy that we came to see them. They told me no coach had ever visited with them like that.
Gradually, those families started trusting us and supporting us because they know that we are going to help their kids stay in school and be successful. We began drawing our community closer with those relationships.
“Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t easy. We had to sell it and preach it, but we just kept pounding away at those relationships. Then, we had to start developing a work ethic so in about three months I took the kids into the weight room. As we began to understand each other better, I began explaining the whys of why we were doing things a certain way. I also wanted them to know that they were great dudes and deserved to be perceived better.”
And then Coach Bob Cervetto said something that was very near and dear to my own thoughts…behind every very successful team lies an intensive track program. No one wants to hear it, but it is spot on.
“Nobody ran track when I came to Dublin, but I made them get on a bus and get to the track. I told them that we ALL were going to run track, and I told them we WOULD have six relays at the district meet. We did, and we got dead last. I got on the bus and said, ‘That will never happen again.’”
It didn’t, but it took awhile. When Dublin hosted its first meet, the coaches had to borrow 30 hurdles from De Leon just to be able to offer those events, and only two teams would even agree to come to the meet.
“Last year we were the district mile relay champs, the area mile relay champs, and we broke some school records. I also had to turn teams away because we had so many who wanted to enter.
And then came Dublin Lions football season 2014, and somehow Rickey and I just knew that this was going to be a year to remember for the Lions. Sure enough, the team that was 1-19 when Coach Bob Cervetto arrived, kicked off the season with a roar, never looking back as they went on to become Bi-District Champions, with a slew of players earning all district honors.
With 2014 in the rearview mirror, Coach Cervetto now has time to reflect over his four seasons as a Lion. It hasn’t been easy, and not everyone has been pleased with his style of coaching, by his own admission. And yet, the man is happy when he looks in the mirror each morning.
“I asked my wife recently if she minded that I was so busy with my coaching duties, if she wished I had stayed in administration. She told me that when I came home in a suit and tie every day, I looked exhausted, that I had no pep in my step. Today, I come home in my coaching clothes and the bounce is back. And she’s right. I love where I am at this point in my life.”
Of course, the fact that he has been on a high protein diet and has lost over 60 pounds doesn’t hurt his feelings any, but the truth of the matter is that Bob Cervetto is back doing exactly what he has always felt called to do…helping kids become the best they can be in all areas of their lives.
“When they carpeted my room, I had three days where everything I have was in the locker room, which was unlocked. Not one thing was taken during that time, which shows the kind of kids we have here in Dublin,” he beamed at me.
Naturally, that reminded me of something Rudy Rodriguez told me last year about Coach Cervetto and just what a success story Rudy himself is.
“Rudy is now majoring in engineering at Tarleton, and his brother, Ambrosio, was just voted in as lineman of the year in our district!” the coach bragged proudly. “They are the perfect example of what kids can do when they set their minds to it.”
Yes, Coach Bob Cervetto is a happy man. He’s back doing what he loves to do, and for the first time since he has been in Dublin, this year there were enough boys in his football program to fill varsity, junior varsity, AND freshmen teams! In addition to that, Cervetto’s son, Kellen, has joined the Dublin coaching staff and his daughter, Stacey, teaches in the system.
But when it’s all said and done at the end of the day, the thing that puts the biggest smile on the coach’s face is the fact that Norma has put up with him all of these years…and she has even come to love the couple’s once very muddy dirt road. Now who could ask for more than that?
2014 District 10-3A All-District Honors
Offensive MVP: Brady Holleman
Defensive MVP: Conner Moore
Lineman of the Year: Ambrosio Rodriguez
Special Team Player of the Year: Chuy Chacon
1st Team- All District- Offense
Abel Aguilar- Wide Receiver
Manny Ramirez- Wide Receiver
Travis Blazi- Running Back
Chuy Chacon- RB/WR
Cade Hill- Offensive Line
Isaac Campos- Kicker
1st Team- All District- Defense
Abel Aguilar- Defensive Back
Travis Blazi- Linebacker
Cade Hill- Defensive Line
Marcos Sanchez- Defensive Line
Chuy Chacon- Defensive Back
Brady Holleman- Defensive Back
2nd Team – All District- Offense
Brayden Burleson- Wide Receiver
Conner Moore- Offensive Line Justin Ricks- Offensive Line
2nd Team- All District- Defense
Tyler Stone- Linebacker
Dalton Zinck- Linebacker
Justin Ricks- Defensive Line
Honorable Mention- All District
Taylor Stone- Offensive Line
Jose Villalobos- Offensive Line
Marcos Sanchez- Offensive Line
Bryson Fowler- Wide Receiver
Manny Ramirez- Linebacker
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is something to ROAR about!Most photos are from the Dublin Athletic Booster Club.