Kyle Hauk

Kyle Hauk is back at his alma mater Buckholts for his second stint as football head coach for the Badgers, who play on a field named for Hauk’s dad.

Kyle Hauk didn’t have to take the gig as the new athletic director and football head coach at Buckholts.

Hauk had been there and done that and could afford to remain retired after a long career of coaching and teaching.

Then again, he wasn’t about to pass up the opportunity to return to his alma mater where he got his coaching start and where his father was synonymous with the school and community.

After a circuitous route through numerous six-man football communities in Texas, Hauk’s circle is at last complete.

“The (school) district is coming a long way back,” Hauk said. “The field is named after my dad. They made me an offer I couldn’t refuse, and I live a block from the school.”

Indeed, despite leaving his hometown after the 1998 school year and spending much of his professional career hundreds of miles away, Hauk always kept a foot firmly planted in Buckholts. He rented out the home he is returning to throughout the 22 years since he last worked here. His in-laws still live in Buckholts and his mother, Gwen, now lives in Georgetown.

Plus, his late father, Jim, provided the school vital continuity during the course of his 36 years there as a coach, teacher and superintendent. The elder Hauk led the Badgers to their only two undefeated seasons in 1964-65 and was a staunch defender of small community schools. The football field was dedicated to him in 1994, two years before his death at 59 from cancer.

The younger Hauk took up his father’s mantle and for five seasons led successful and competitive Buckholts teams. As his father said years ago and Kyle says now, the school is the “lifeblood” of the tiny town. Between his father, mother and himself, a Hauk has been involved with Buckholts schools for more than a combined half-century.

“It feels like it was a different life ago in one sense,” the 54-year-old Hauk said of his first coaching stint in Buckholts. “On the other hand, it goes by in the blink of an eye.”

Hauk is back in his hometown in part because a former coach with equally deep roots in Central Texas and elsewhere hired him.

Newly minted superintendent Joe Oliver brings 44 years of school experience to Buckholts. Oliver was an assistant on state championship teams in Temple (1979) and Cameron Yoe (1981) before embarking on his own head coaching stints in Clifton, Hallsville, Hillsboro and Central Texas Christian School as well as numerous other school administrative positions. Like Hauk, Oliver didn’t have to get back into it, but his love for schools supersedes any desire to remain on the retired list. Oliver said it’s his calling.

“Everybody works for you in the game and here everybody’s a starter,” said Oliver, who transitioned CTCS from a six-man to an 11-man program a decade ago. “When I’m away (from schools) I feel like I need to be doing something.

“We had an opening for an AD and with Kyle we have a six-man coach who was named most outstanding athlete when he played here and his dad’s name is on the field. We’re very fortunate to have him as coach and make Buckholts the best it can be.”

The old guard is giving the facilities a makeover as Oliver and Hauk are now in the process of bringing them into the 21st century. They are replacing aging halogen lights — about half of which were burned out with no replacements in stock — and the wooden poles that have hovered over the field for decades. Fencing will be updated and the bleachers refurbished.

As with most six-man schools, it’s a numbers game and the Badgers don’t have many. They have one boy in each the junior and freshman classes.

“I hope to have 12-15 come out,” Hauk said. “But we’ll take whoever’s there. I started after July 4, so we haven’t had a lot of time to work.”

When it comes to the often nomadic lifestyle of a coach, particularly a six-man football coach, Hauk may have them all beat by making the circuit mostly in West Texas outposts. Quite often the places he went were reclamation projects, some needing more serious renovation than others.

From Buckholts, Hauk spent three years in Blum, a year in Amherst, two years at Santa Anna, a year in Happy, five years in Lorenzo, two more in Fort Elliott, another two at Grandfalls-Royalty and his last four as a coach at Loraine, where he led the Bulldogs to a Division II state semifinals berth in 2014. He served two years as the transportation director for Bartlett ISD before his one-year retirement.

“I felt like I left every place better than I found it,” Hauk said.

Hauk compiled a 149-113 record in an eventful 24 years of coaching. He would like nothing more than to restore the Badgers to some of their earlier glory.

“We won the district title when I was a senior and my last year here as coach,” he said. “I’d love to be here to win another district championship.”