The year of Speedy Gonzales | In 2006 Texas final, Brownsville’s Cowboys produced outsider’s art

Players from Porter High School lift championship trophy after the Class 5A boys’ soccer final, 15 Apr 06, Round Rock, Austin. Afterward, players told Porter principal Alonzo Barbosa Jr., “Sir, Speedy Gonzales won.” (www.bisd.us/porter)

The Porter High School Cowboys’ soccer season ended prematurely this year, in a regional quarterfinal playoff to Brownsville rivals Rivera. Now Rivera moves into the position that Porter occupied in 2006—unlikely challengers, from the southernmost city on the U.S.–Mexico border, to well-resourced, primarily Anglo sides from northern Texas in the state final four. The matches take place this weekend.

Gladys Porter High School, however, will always lay claim to having become the first team from the Rio Grande Valley, in any sport, to have won a state championship competing among Texas’ largest high schools (class 5A). One among five competitive boys’ soccer programs in Brownsville, Porter boasts a cohesive supporters’ organization, the Porter Nation, that employed the victory cry, “¡Si se pudo!” (Yes, we did it), to echo chants that Mexican American labor leader César Chávez once had used to galvanize farm workers.

Casares

In a region dense with storytellers and barrier-defying artists, the Porter High story has proven especially suitable for demonstrating the unique cultural position of the border dweller. Brownsville-bred writer and Porter High graduate Oscar Casares in a Texas Monthly column (“Champs with Class,” Brownsville Herald, 18 Apr 06), Porter faces the Coppell supporters’ bizarre chants of “USA! USA!” and a poster of cartoon figure Speedy Gonzales. The poster depicts Speedy about to be squashed and, according to Casares, carries the legend “Stomp on Brownville!” The spelling error is intentional.

Warner Bros. introduced Speedy Gonzales in 1953 in “Cat-Tails for Two.” Writes Casares of the original version: “[H]is character looked more like a rat, mean and sleazy and with a gold tooth the animator must have thought would add a touch of realism.” Above is the more “user-friendly” Speedy of later years.

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