Inspiration from the inaugural SAISD Athletic Hall of Fame induction

Dr. Sylvester Perez1

February 23, 2015

Dear SAISD Staff,

Last weekend, we celebrated the induction of the first class of SAISD’s inaugural Athletic Hall of Fame. Among the eight honorees were three first-round National Football League draft picks, including the late Kyle Rote, who was an All-State football and basketball player at Jefferson HS (class of 1947), a consensus All-American running back at Southern Methodist University (class of 1951) and an All-Pro running back and wide receiver in the NFL for the New York Giants (1951-1961). He was honored posthumously. 

Each inductee had wonderful, powerful and humbling stories to tell, but the one Rote’s son, Chris, shared really resonated. Chris spoke to how the people around his father helped shape the elder Rote’s character.

Below is what Chris shared. I hope it moves you the way it did me.

Dr. Sylvester Perez

Chris Rote’s comments at the inaugural SAISD Athletic Hall of Fame“Thank you for putting together such a wonderful tribute to my father, Kyle. I am Chris Rote. My parents had four children, and I am pleased to be here to accept the award on the induction of my Dad into the San Antonio ISD Athletic Hall of Fame.

My mother and my father grew up and attended schools in the San Antonio school district until their graduation from Thomas Jefferson High School in 1947. Those were the years of World War II. Looking back at the yearbooks of those days, you can see that Thomas Jefferson High School was a vibrant place. The students and teachers were active in the various clubs on campus, and high school athletics was a centerpiece of the school and neighborhood social life.

My father’s family consisted of my grandparents and two children, my father Kyle, and his older brother Jack. Jack was three years older than my Dad, and after graduating from Jefferson High School, he enlisted in the Marines.

In 1944, when my dad was 15 years old and a student at Jefferson, his mother died in a tragic car accident. Less than a year later, his brother Jack was killed at Iwo Jima. So here was a young man in high school whose family was gutted by tragic circumstances.

I tell you this story not to elicit sympathy for him or my family, but because Kyle, who had tremendous athletic gifts, was able, with the help of many teachers, coaches and fellow players, to direct these athletic gifts into an outstanding sports career. It was the school and the community that helped shape his character to become the man he was.

Today, we have students in our schools who come from many backgrounds. Some come from wealth, some from poverty, some from close families and some from broken families. It is our schools and our communities that bring our children together, to teach them, to let them learn from one another and sometimes to provide a sense of worth and direction that they may not be getting from home.

My Dad was lucky to have the school and community around him, to help shape his character, to help him develop his skills and to find a direction in his life that served him well.

As we celebrate the lives of these first members of the new San Antonio Independent School District Athletic Hall of Fame, let us remember that each one of them had teachers, coaches and school administrators that played an integral role in helping them become outstanding athletes.

On behalf of my father, his surviving widow, my brothers and sister, my wife and my children, my nieces and nephews, and myself, I thank you for this great honor.

To all those teachers, coaches, family and friends who have helped shape, not only my Dad’s life, but also my life, and the lives of each and every one of my family members, thank you!”














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