Byline: Kaylea Berry/Reporter
WILSON, Oklahoma – The Wilson Indian Community Center opened up its doors to the Wilson Tigers football team and cheerleaders on Oct. 24. Mvskoke citizen Matt LeGrand coaches the Wilson football team, and the team has about ten Mvskoke citizen players and a handful of other tribal citizen players.
Wilson’s football program started in 2015. This year the team is ranked sixth, and their record is 7-1, a massive turnaround from their 0-10 record last year. LeGrand has coached the team over the previous three years, two as an assistant coach and this year as the head coach.
LeGrand talked about each player’s position and how each role contributes to the team. He pointed out that one of the players had struggled academically at the beginning of the season but has since improved enormously.
“Sometimes the kids need football more than football needs them,” LeGrand said. “I have one son, but these 22 players are also my sons.”
Last year the team did not win a single game, but the team only lost one senior and had a few students transfer in from other schools. LeGrand said they have come together this year and started believing in themselves and each other.
“We got better because we came together as a team,” LeGrand said. “When we come together, we can do anything.”
The football players have not only come together as a team but have also brought the community together.
Rita Williams, a Wilson Indian Community member, was proud of how well the team was doing this year and wanted to show recognition for them.
“I was excited myself, so I knew that as a community member, if I was, then the whole community had to be,” Williams said.
She wanted to show her and the community’s support by organizing a ceremony for the football team and cheerleaders.
“This was one way we could show our appreciation and celebrate our high school boys,” said Williams. “We pulled together with the Wilson Indian Community, Wilson Booster Club, Superintendent Andrea James, and it all fell together.”
Muscogee (Creek) Nation Chief David Hill, Second Chief Del Beaver, members from the National Council, and Chief of Staff Jeff Fife attended the celebration to show their support for the team as they get closer to reaching the playoffs. Former Chief George Tiger was the emcee for the event.
Chief Hill, Second Chief Beaver, and Speaker Lowe spoke to the players about the importance of their time in high school, being a part of a team, how what they have accomplished this far is historical for the school, their own experiences, and being a student first and an athlete second.
The Tigers were supposed to play South Coffeyville on Oct. 28 but won by forfeit due to the Lions’ lack of players. They play the Watts Engineers Friday, Nov. 4 at 7 p.m., and if the Tigers win, they will be ranked second in district C and compete in the first round of playoffs on their home field. This will be the first time in history that the Wilson Tiger’s football team will play in the playoffs.