Bringing Back the Hammer

Kinkaid boys golf set up for three straight SPC titles

Kinkaid’s chances of going back-to-back-to-back as SPC Champions are better than ever Vype

Kinkaid boys golf has won five of the last six SPC championships, but had to complete the 2017 run without Texas-signee Cole Hammer.

Hammer played his first two high school seasons with the team, but elected to go the homeschool route as a junior to recover from a lingering elbow injury.

Luckily for both parties, Hammer’s back to his dominant self, and Kinkaid’s chances of going back-to-back-to-back as SPC Champions are better than ever.

“It was a pretty easy decision to rejoin the Kinkaid golf team,” Hammer said. “We had so much success in the past that it was really important to me to go back and finish my senior year strong.”

Another reason Hammer couldn’t wait to get back was the bond he’d developed with his teammates. That’s most noticeable with juniors Will Jacobe and Mason Nome, as well as senior Johnny Butler, because he’s played with them longer than he can remember.

Hammer kept in touch with them during his time away from the team, so they were some of the first people to know about his return.

“He had started talking to me early,” Jacobe said. “He was like, ‘There’s a 50/50 chance I come back to Kinkaid.’ And right when he told me that, I was like, ‘You need to come [back]’. I tried to tell him that every day.”

“He made his decision early in the summer, and I was really excited because I love playing with him,” Jacobe added.

Kinkaid coach Bobby Eggleston had to reshuffle his lineup when Hammer told him about the return, but it was a good challenge to have.

Eggleston ultimately gave the 2016 SPC individual champ the top spot, and featured a strong two and three in Nome and Jacobe, who finished second and fourth in 2017.

“We were disappointed when he decided to take a year off, but very excited when he decided to come back,” said Eggleston. “He brings so much to our team, score-wise, but also how he handles himself on and off the course.”

Even with the change, the Falcons retained a strong starting five. Butler, their No. 4, also had experience from last year’s SPC tournament and has already picked up a win in 2018.

“Ever since then, he’s had that feeling that he can go low,” Eggleston said. “He’s been with our team for four years, and he’s really solidified the bottom part of the lineup.”

There’s also an up-and-comer in sophomore Bain Williams, so the group will be hard to beat at this spring’s final.

“This is definitely our strongest team so far,” said Jacobe. “I’m very confident that we will win the tournament if we play the golf that we should.”

This article appears in the April issue of VYPE Magazine. Pick up your copy at any one of our locations today!

Mag Locations

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

Rootes began writing The Winning Game Plan last March. Photo via: NRG Park/Facebook

Football players, coaches and general managers have come and gone, but only one person has been running the business side of the Texans, well, even before they were the Texans. Jamey Rootes has been President of the Houston Texans since 1999, when an NFL team in Houston was still just a gleam in owner Bob McNair's eyes. That's before the team adopted the name "Texans" in 2000, before there was NRG Stadium, which opened as Reliant Stadium in 2000, and before they became serial champs of the AFC South, six titles between 2011-2019.

The precise date was Oct. 6, 1999 when NFL owners voted 29-0 to award the NFL's 32nd and newest franchise to Houston. Not only that, Houston was awarded the 2004 Super Bowl. Rootes, 34 years old with no NFL experience, had his work cut out for him. Before taking the job in Houston, Rootes was team president, general manager and CEO of selling peanuts and popcorn for the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer.

Major League Soccer, with all due respect, is not nearly a national obsession like the National Football League.

"I wasn't intimidated," Rootes said. "There's a quote that I love, 'Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.' I've always been a purpose-driven person. As for the step up to the NFL, I went from knowing nothing at the start of my time in Columbus to five years later thinking, OK, I've got this sports thing down. Actually, I had a very significant reduction in my responsibilities in Houston. When I was in Columbus, I ran the stadium, I ran the team's business, I was the general manager so I did the talent side of it, too. When I came to Houston, all I had to do was the business, so that was great."

Rootes has captured his remarkable journey from the soccer team at Clemson to grad school at Indiana University to the business world at IBM and Proctor & Gamble to the Clemson Crew, to ultimately being named President of the Houston Texans in his new book, The Winning Game Plan: A Proven Leadership Playbook for Continuous Business Success, available next week.

I've known Rootes from his day one with the Texans, but I still had to ask: everybody knows what the general manager does, and what the head coach does. What exactly does the President of an NFL team worth $3.3 billion do?

"I like to use the parallel of a pharmaceutical company to describe my job. There are two sides to that company. First you put scientists in one building and you leave them alone. They create products, which is what our football team is. The football side has a coach and general manager and all the people who prepare the team to play on Sunday. But getting that product to market is done by the business side, traditional business disciplines. Those are the things that fall to me. Basically, everything between the white lines is run by the football side. Everything outside of those lines, I do," Rootes said.

Between 1999 and 2002, when the Texans played their first game (let the record show the Texans defeated the Dallas Cowboy, 19-10), the team was essentially a massive start-up project. First orders of business for Rootes involved building a new stadium, developing relationships with suppliers, contractors and government officials, preparing for a Super Bowl and, most important, developing a relationship with fans.

Rootes began writing The Winning Game Plan last March, but it's really an accumulation of lessons learned and behind-the-scenes stories about building the Texans from scratch into one of the most admired and valuable franchises in all of sports.

"I've always been a meticulous note-taker. I've kept every presentation I've ever done. I took all of my notes and concepts and put those down on paper," Rootes said. "To be a good leader, you need a wild imagination. You can show me a blank piece of paper, but I don't see it as blank. To me, it's a finished product that hasn't been created yet," Rootes said.

Rootes lays out his leadership strategy in seven chapters: Are You a Manager or a Leader, Get the Right People on Your Team, Build a Winning Culture, Create Raving Fans, a Winning Playbook for Adversity and Success, Your Leadership Playbook and Play to Win.

He learned lesson No. 1 the hard way. A friend once counseled Rootes, "your staff doesn't like the way you're all up in their business, you need to back off." Rootes took that advice to heart.

"It was an epiphany. I wasn't a leader. That's when I truly began thinking about leadership. I say this all the time, I don't do anything. All I do is create an environment where exceptional people can be their very best self. I know what's going on. I'm fully informed. I leave every game day exhausted. I get there early. I do the things I need to do. I kiss babies. I shake hands. I present checks. I entertain clients. I'm dialed in. It absolutely wears me out because I love this organization so much. I am so proud of what we've been able to do for this great city of Houston."

I asked Rootes, as someone who lives for Game Day and a packed NRG Stadium, are you devastated by 2020, the year of COVID-19 and small crowds limited by Centers for Disease Control guidelines?

"I don't look at it that way. I think there's a song by 10,000 Maniacs that said, these are the days that you'll remember. I told my staff, I know you're all going through hell right now, but later on in life, you'll talk about this year. Things that are important are memorable, for the positive and those things that leave a scar. You learn from adversity and you're a better person for enduring it. Victor Frankl said 'We can discover meaning in life in three different ways, by creating a work or doing a deed, experiencing something or encountering someone, and by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering.' Suffering is part of life. He should know, he survived a Nazi concentration camp," Rootes said.

H-E-B President Scott McClelland wrote the forward to The Winning Game Plan. Rootes dedicates the book to late Texans owner Bob McNair. Rootes' book is a fun read. All I kept thinking was, where was this book when I needed it? And before you buy too much into Rootes as a leader, consider that Rootes admits that he had to ask for wife Melissa's permission before he could accept the Texans job.

Personal note: I believe that a big part of leadership is the ability to keep a promise. Several years ago, I was riding my bicycle with my dog Lilly on a leash. It was the only way I could keep up with her. Well, one time Lilly saw a squirrel and pulled me off my bicycle. I tumbled a few times and rolled next to the curb. When I looked up, there was Jamey Rootes. I told him, "There's no need for you to tell anybody about this." He never said a word.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome