Breckenridge Texan

Remembering Buckaroos fan Connie Swan

Remembering Buckaroos fan Connie Swan
November 24
10:33 2019

(Editor’s Note: Breckenridge Texan Publisher Tony Pilkington recounts his and others’ experiences getting to know the late Connie Swan, an ardent Buckaroos fan, in this first-person column.)

When Connie Swan passed away last week at the age of 73, Breckenridge and the Buckaroos lost a friend and one of their most loyal fans.

If there was a Buckaroos game, home or away, Connie was there. It didn’t matter whether it was football, volleyball, boys or girls basketball, baseball or softball, he was there.

Connie Swan poses with Buckaroo varsity football players at the 2017 Meet Bucks Rally next to the Stephens County Courthouse. (Photo courtesy of Casey Hubble)

Of course, Connie was usually never actually at the games. Well, I mean he wasn’t sitting in the stands at the stadium or in the gymnasium. But he was there in spirit as he listened to the games on the radio in his room at Villa Haven Health and Rehabilitation Center, where he lived for more than 30 years. Connie was born with cerebral palsy and couldn’t get around easily.

In a 2015 interview for The Senior Times, Swan told then-Breckenridge American Sports Editor Brant Thurmond that he enjoyed listening to the sporting events on the local radio station.

“I like to listen to the radio and sporting events and stuff like that,” Swan said. “I have enjoyed football ever since I was five or six years old. My brother played football here.”

He told Thurmond he especially liked listening to Lance Kitchens’ play-by-play broadcasts. “I enjoy the guy that does the play-by-play locally because he gets excited,” Swan said in the article.

Like many people involved with the Buckaroos, I first met Connie on the telephone. I was working for KLXK Radio-FM 93.5, operating the control board for the Buckaroos game broadcasts. Basically, that meant I was responsible for playing the commercials during breaks in Lance Kitchens’ game broadcasts.

On my first broadcast, about 20 minutes or so before the show was scheduled to start, the phone rang and I answered it. After a short pause, a voice on the other end — an older man, I could tell — asked, “Who’s this?”

Well, not having a clue who it was or if somebody from the stadium was calling to check in, I just said, “Tony.”

A framed Breckenridge Buckaroos football jersey decorated Connie Swan’s wall in his room at Villa Haven. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

I don’t remember what all Connie said after that, but do remember him eventually asking, “Tony, what time’s the game going to start?” and “How do you think the Bucks are going to do tonight?” I remember that because he used my name. And from then on, every game night after that for the next five years, he always called me right before the broadcast, and when I answered, he would ask, “Tony, what time’s the game going to start?” and then “How do you think the Bucks are going to do tonight?”

Sometimes we’d talk a little bit about the previous games or if the Bucks were headed to the playoffs or who might miss that night’s game because they were injured. I always felt bad because I wasn’t really that big on sports and didn’t always know what was going on with the season other than what I heard Lance and Tim Bundick talk about during their game broadcasts.

But what’s funny, is that when I first started working at the station and he would call, I would think, “Who’s this guy and why does he always call before every game?” But as the years went on and we became more acquainted, I started looking for his calls. It was almost like his call was part of the broadcast preparation process. If he hadn’t called yet, I would think to myself, “It’s almost game time … why hasn’t Connie called? We can’t start the game broadcast yet … Connie hasn’t called in yet.” But of course, he always did. And when I answered the phone, he always recognized my voice and would start the conversation with “Tony,” and then “What time’s the game going to start?”

Of course Connie had been calling and talking to people at the radio station long before I came along. And most of those people were way more knowledgeable about sports than me. One of those people was Charlie Parker, the morning show host and Sports Director at KLXK-FM 93.5, who first spoke to Connie on the air in 1995.

A signed Buckaroos football helmet and baseball cap were in Connie Swan’s room at Villa Haven. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/ Breckenridge Texan)

“He was the first person to ever call me on the air,” Parker said. “And when I came back the second time, he was the first person to call; third time, the first person to call; and when I came back (this time) and turned the mic on, he was first person to call. ‘Hey Charlie, you’re back.’”

And it wasn’t just radio people that Connie called to discuss Buckaroos sports with. He went straight to the top and called Breckenridge High School Athletic Director and Head Football Coach Casey Hubble.

Hubble, who became friends with Connie over the years, told me on Saturday that he, like most of us, met Connie for the first time on the phone.

“He called my number there at the office, and I picked up and started talking to him,” Coach Hubble said. “His love for the Buckaroos and the history of Breckenridge was pretty evident. I just decided he was a guy I needed to meet. So I went down there to meet him, and he would just call me pretty often and we’d talk. He’d always say, ‘If I’m bothering you, let me know,’ and I’d always say ‘You’re not bothering me.’ Whenever I had to go to work, I’d go work, but I always tried to make time to talk to him because he was such a good man.”

Coach Hubble said he would go and pick up Connie and bring him to the Meet the Bucks rallies. Then, a couple times a year, he would take the varsity football players to Villa Haven to visit Connie and the rest of the residents. “The kids loved him; they loved talking to him. It was good for both of them, I believe,” he said.

Coach Hubble told me one of Connie’s favorite subjects to talk about was the UIL realignments every couple of years.

“He was really looking forward to realignment every two years,” Hubble said. “That was one of his favorite things. He wanted to know what everybody had turned in as far as numbers and how big and what division everybody was going to be in, what classification, and, ultimately, he wanted to know what that schedule was. It was an exciting time of year for him. He loved that part of it.”

Connie’s voice may be silent now, and when the phone rings at the radio station, his voice won’t be on the other end anymore, but his spirit will live on as we all cheer for the Buckaroos in his memory.

For more details about Connie Swan’s life, click here to read his obituary.

Story by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan

Members of the Buckaroos varsity football team hold a sign showing their support for Connie Swan in 2014. (Photo courtesy of Casey Hubble)

Cutline, top photo: Connie Swan poses with members of the Buckaroos football team at Buckaroo Stadium in 2016. (Photo courtesy of Casey Hubble)

Story by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan

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