Every gameday morning during football season in Snyder, Tigers’ coach Wes Wood’s Facebook page is appointment viewing.
At 8:30 a.m. Wood joins host Jonathan Barrow, Snyder’s well-known first fan, for a show that does more than talk about the Tigers. It connects the team to the community, both in Snyder and beyond. Jonathan, a soon-to-be 38-year-old Snyder resident who’s living with Cerebral Palsy, has hosted a weekly coaches show for several years, but prior to the 2019 season, the local radio station that aired the show decided it wouldn’t air the show without a sponsor.
“When he found out the radio station’s decision, Jonathan didn’t take the news too well,” said Suzanne Barrow, Jonathan’s mother. “He was really deflated. He lives and breathes Tiger football, and all I could do was tell him that we’d think of something.”
Sometimes necessity truly is the mother of invention. When members of Snyder’s school community learned the show hadn’t been picked up, they contacted Wood, the school’s first-year coach. Booster Club President Troy Botts Jr. and athletic department secretary Rhonda Ward told Wood what was going on. The three of them came up with a solution, and the coach contacted Suzanne Barrow with an idea that would allow the show to live on.
Wood suggested continuing Jonathan’s show and broadcasting it using Facebook Live. Wood uses his own page to host it each gameday morning at 8:30. The Barrows join Wood in the stadium press box and a few guests and assistant coaches help with the logistics.
“Jonathan has been Snyder’s number one fan for a long, long time,” Wood said. “The station’s decision just crushed his heart, so I just decided that we were going to do this just for him. You can tell this show is one of the best parts of his week.”
“I’d never heard of Facebook Live, but when Coach Wood called me with the idea, we were pretty excited,” Suzanne said. “I didn’t know how it worked, but once we figured it out….Jonathan loves it.”
So does the community.
“For our first show we had more than 2,000 views and we had more than 1,500 for the second,” she said. “This is great because it allows our family to see what Jonathan’s doing and it also keeps people who don’t live here anymore connected.”
With Suzanne feeding Jonathan the questions, he and Wood discuss the most recent game and also talk to a player or an assistant coach. Every coach’s show needs a standing feature, and Jonathan’s show is no different. Jonathan asks what’s become known as his “famous trivia question.” Most of the time, the question focuses on Snyder football, and more than he cares to admit, the question gives Wood more insight into the Tigers’ background.
For Suzanne Barrow, the show is another outlet for Jonathan to connect with his number one passion: Snyder football.
“I get to enjoy watching him be so happy being with the coaches,” she said. “He’s in a wheelchair and he never got to play football. It makes him so happy to be with the coaches and the players.”
Jonathan spends his Friday mornings with Wood doing his broadcast and then attends all of the home games. After the games, he joins the team on the field, where he’s not shy about giving Wood his honest assessment of the just-completed game. When the Tigers are on the road and Jonathan has to follow the game on radio, he’s quick to call the coach to say good job.
“He’s really fun to be around,” Wood said. “He’s really dad-gum intelligent and he is just one of those guys who brightens up everybody’s day.”
In addition to Jonathan’s coach’s show, the Tigers stay connected to their community with several team-wide initiatives, Wood said. During preseason practice, the players take shifts at the local United Supermarket where they help shoppers throughout the store. Some players help shoppers by pushing their carts for them. Others help by delivering their groceries to the car.
Once the season starts, players travel in groups to the other Snyder ISD campuses for a program called Tiger Buds. Players wear their jeans and game jerseys and greet fellow students – as well as teachers – as they arrive for their day.
“The cheerleaders and volleyball team goes as well and you see the pictures all over social media,” Wood said. “We’re just there to give high-fives to the elementary and intermediate school students and tell them to have a great day and invite them to come to the game. It’s a pretty big community event for all of Snyder athletics. We think it’s pretty cool.”