West Rusk special 37 jersey honors New London history

Published: Sep. 21, 2021 at 9:46 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 21, 2021 at 10:48 PM CDT
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WEST RUSK, Texas (KLTV) - Football players usually have a preferred number, but in West Rusk, there’s one jersey that can’t be given out before the season.

The number 37 is reserved as a special honor to commemorate the year 1937 and the infamous school explosion at the New London school. If you are unfamiliar with the tragedy, it’s the reason that natural gas today has a smell. You care read the background of the explosion here.

“We’re just trying to bring it to the sports side, because we know sports brings kids together and brings the community together,” said West Rusk Coach Nick Harrison. “So however we can tie it in there. Miles Toller, he’s actually our radio guy, he is the one that actually came up with the idea last year. COVID kind of slowed it down but we were able to roll into it this year and it’s been great.”

Typically one player from the junior varsity team will be elevated to the varsity roster and is given the special 37 jersey, but coach Harrison says it can go to anyone they think deserves the honor. Cole Jackson wore it for the week two game against Sabine, and says the significance of wearing this jersey is not lost on anyone on the team.

“Everybody always wants it, and everyone always gets happy for the dude that gets it,” said Jackson. “We usually go through the week of practice, and then Thursday, during our athletic period which is kind of the middle of the day, is when the coaches will tell the jv player who wears it that week.”

As important as the jersey is for the players, the response has also been incredibly positive from the fans. To many in West Rusk, the football field is the center of the community. While the entirety of that feeling can’t be shown with just a jersey number, a little part of it can be represented under the Friday night lights.

“Whenever they announce it over the intercom there’s a little bit of a different feeling throughout the crowd so it’s a lot of fun,” said Harrison. “Our kids are loving it and also they practice really hard, they want to wear that 37 jersey on Friday.”

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