Jennifer Clarke – For The Record

Bridge City High School is changing the face of its football program.

After a statewide search for a football coach, Dwayne DuBois, previously of Hardin-Jefferson, is starting the new season invested in the kids and community. Coach DuBois coaches on and off the field, and he wants to see his athletes become good citizens.

“I may not see the results of our work for fifteen to twenty years, but we teach the kids they have 365 chances to win. Each day they should make the choice to be their best as athletes, big brothers, sons, employees and students of good character,” DuBois says.

Returning to his alma mater gives him the opportunity to give back to the community that invested in him. He has lived in Bridge City most of his life and he and his wife, Cristal DuBois, are thankful for the “easy transition because it is like returning home.” Both Dwayne and Cristal DuBois are Bridge City High School graduates. DuBois was on the football team, and Cristal, a high achiever, enjoyed her time with the Strutters. They are happy to return to the Bridge City community where they “had a great experience.” The move has also been easier for their children due to family being near and time spent with community little league in the past.

DuBois is clear about his priorities, “I put God first, then family, then football.”

It is exciting to start any new season, but coaching is more than just about football. Dwayne and Cristal DuBois are aware of the opportunity to impact the lives of their students. Coach DuBois carries his coaching over to instilling values of hard work and citizenship in his athletes. Each week, he chooses an idea that is important for the growth of his students such as: responsibility, accountability, and integrity; he continues this throughout the year. “It is important that the students learn the value of hard work,” and he wants his athletes to be tough on the field. But he wants them to be athletes of class and character, and “while we may knock you down on the field, we will help you back up.” He enforces the “grind” that is football, and seeks to help develop athletes as good sportsmen and productive citizens.

Of course the coach is seeking the district championship, and he looks forward to working hard with the Cardinals on the field. DuBois and his wife work together focusing on guiding students by forming real connections. In many cases, school activities are “central to the community,” says Cristal, and sports, especially football “is powerful and useful as a motivator.”  She believes in “building camaraderie with families.” Teamwork is important, and getting “parents involved and making memories” are vital components of their program. As Coach DuBois suggests, “it is important to build together, the kids, coaches, parents, fans, and community.”

The varsity team has gone canoeing at Village Creek. They have scavenger hunts and kickball tournaments planned in the future. And all of these activities provide an opportunity for the kids to participate in “good, clean fun” while promoting community outreach and team cohesion, two of the coach’s top priorities. These activities also give the younger students something to look forward to. Cristal is also planning a “senior retreat including the moms that will consist of games, activities and prizes.”

They are focused on “changing a generation.” Notably, coaches often have great influence in the life of a student, and sometimes extra-curricular activities, like football, can inspire reluctant students to achieve. “Football is our way to connect to the kids, but we consider it a year-long investment, not just during the season,” says Cristal. According to her, “being there, showing the kids we care and really love them every day of the year” is necessary for success.

Coach DuBois and the Cardinals began practice on Monday, August 3, and they have a busy season and year ahead. But he is not too busy to give attention to the community that supports his team.

“Bridge City is a special place. The people here are invested in the lives of the students, and that tradition of excellence extends beyond football to the entire community.”

On August 8, 2015, at 1 p.m. at Bridge City High School, Coach and Mrs. DuBois will hold an informational meeting open to the public that allows everyone to ask questions and learn more about football and their program. No registration is necessary.