A macho man with a soft heart in Natchitoches: PART 5

By Nico Van Thyn

Bettye and Jim Bruning

The seniors from the 1969 team, with some players from the classes in the same era, have a reunion every June for an outing at nearby Toledo Bend.

:It’s been a wonderful thing,” said Dennis, saying that while he was able Bruning brought crawfish to the Friday night gathering. “He thinks of us as his boys, and we like that he does. It’s been rewarding.”

The 1978 Natchitoches-Central yearbook includes a copy of a letter written on behalf of Jim Bruning’s players in his final season of coaching. Harryette provided it, it is entitled “Coach” and it reads:

“In the past years the senior football players have given our head coach an award. This year’s award, which represents our love, respect and admiration, has been, and is, much more meaningful because we are coach’s last group of seniors.

“Coach Bruning’s overall record speaks for itself; however, no won or loss record can ever reveal the success that this man has had in the growth and development of young men. Records are for statisticians or spectators and never can be used to judge the value of a man. No won or loss record can ever picture the father image of Coach Bruning. Prints are just numbers on a scoreboard and are short-lived, whereas Coach Bruning’s image of a man will live with us forever.

” ‘Macho’ is a Spanish word meaning ‘all man.’ Until eternity, we seniors will remember you as our coach who was, and is, ‘macho.’ ”

Nico Van Thyn was a sports writer/editor for more than 45 years, including stints in his hometown with The Shreveport Times and Shreveport Journal.  He finished his career with a decade at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He is retired, living in Fort Worth with his wife Bea. They have two children and four grandchildren.