By Todd Martin
Beneath the lights of Leo Buckley Stadium, in the final regular season football game of the year, a community honored a legend.
In the perfect place – the only place – at the 50-yard-line inside the stadium named for the man who hired him, Al “Doc” Wilson stood with his family, gazing into the home stands for the last time as trainer for his beloved Kangaroos.
After an astounding 57 years as athletic trainer at Killeen High School, the only person to ever hold the position is set to retire at the end of the school year.
On Friday, a large crowd on hand to see the Roos battle rival Harker Heights High School for a shot at the district’s final playoff spot, glimpsed history as one of the first high school athletic trainers in Texas history worked his final home game.
Fittingly, at the end of halftime Wilson made his way to midfield to join the athletic trainer for the Knights, Andy Wilson, the honoree’s oldest son. His younger son, Jerry Wilson, KISD-TV technician and wife Gayle Wilson joined the longtime trainer with other family members.
The Killeen High School cheerleaders unfurled a banner just behind Doc, where he sat in a chair at the center of the field, thanking him for 57 years and proclaiming what was written on a T-shirt printed for the occasion: “Once a Roo, Always a Roo.”
Many friends, including former KHS athletes and coaches, as well as many from around the area, stood by with broad smiles as Wilson watched a slide show and listened to the public address announcer read off his accomplishments.
As a gift, family members and students presented Doc with a refurbished sideline trunk, the one he first used to carry supplies on sidelines when he started the job more than five decades ago.
Numerous former KISD athletes and coaches and former and current trainers from area high schools and colleges joined students at the end of the game, lining up along the Al “Doc” Wilson Letterman’s Walk leading to the field house.
In August 1961, KISD Athletic Director Leo Buckley and Superintendent C.E. Ellison hired Wilson three months after he graduated from Howard Payne University to coach seventh-grade football at Rancier Junior High School.
The new junior high school coach also worked as athletic trainer at Killeen High School, a position that would become fulltime the following year and make Wilson the first high school trainer in a broad region of Central Texas.
He ends his career, once again working for a Buckley – KHS Principal Susan Buckley, wife of Leo Buckley grandson Brad Buckley.
Considering the typical 10-game schedule, Doc has worked about 570 football games in addition to numerous other athletic events. He has seen the Roos through state track championships in 1978, 1979, 1980 and 1991. He was part of the 1991 state championship football team.
Those who know Doc suspect the athletic tape he has applied to athletes would have circled the globe by now, maybe multiple times.
Helping to invent his field, Wilson was part of the effort to write the first licensing laws for athletic trainers in Texas, serving as chairman of the state board of athletic trainers during the governorship of Dolph Briscoe.
Doc has been married to Gayle Wilson, secretary at Harker Heights High School for 53 years. In addition to their sons, they have daughter-in-law Tracy Wilson, a language arts teacher and coach at Union Grove Middle School and two grandsons, Zachery, an account executive for an advertising agency in Dallas and Zane, a specialist in the U.S. Army stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado.
As he greeted the numerous guests on the sidelines Friday, Doc, of course, took care of his regular duties and he will continue through the school year.
November 11, 2017