For the first time in 40 years, the Chisum Mustangs basketball team has advanced to the Regional Semifinals. After taking down the likes of Bells, Whitesboro, and Whitewright in their previous three playoff wins, the Mustangs are ready to continue their historic march tonight, and the team’s lone senior Levi Weems is still soaking it all in.
“It’s been really special. I’m even getting congrats all the time from people in my church — it’s a really big deal,” Levi said. “I didn’t realize it at the time while I was playing out there, but after you really sit and think about it, it feels so surreal. We’re doing something really special and it’s crazy to think about what we’ve done and how far we’ve come as a group together, and I think Coach (Brian) Temple is a really big part of that. He’s gotten a lot better through the years, and he’s really doing something special.”
Advancing in the postseason is no easy task and Chisum’s first-round win over Bells marked the program’s first playoff win in 15 years. Breaking barriers and ending droughts has taken more than will and desire, to say the least.
“Hard work is getting pushed a lot more through all of our athletic programs and it’s helped keep everyone acting right,” Levi said. “Coach (Dustin) Cope has been a really big help in the weight room and pushing us to our best potential. They’re really good at getting the best out of us and I’ve seen it since I’ve been a freshman. All of our teachers and coaches care about us during and after high school, which has made my experience here really fun and enjoyable — it’s the place to be really.”
In the midst of his final season with the Mustangs basketball team, Levi remembers when he almost hung up his sneakers and headband for good. Instead, he stayed on the hardwood, is glad he did so, and now sees the similarities through sports across the board.
“At the end of my sophomore year, I was going to quit playing basketball completely to just focus on baseball,” Levi said. “But, (Coach) Temple talked me into staying on the team, which I’m glad I did obviously. Baseball has always been my thing even though I think I’m alright, but either way, it’s about the teammates you have to be good in both cases.”
During their playoff run, Chisum has benefitted from large crowds at each of their games, and Levi believes the boost from the fans has been a large factor for his and his team’s success.
“It’s been a big factor in our games so far, and I guess no one really thought of us going this far, so I guess it’s shocking people to where they want to come to see us play,” Levi said. “We’re a good team and it’s really cool to see a bunch of people from different schools and people from all over come to watch us. It’s been really helpful having the support from the community to back us up.”
When he isn’t throwing a baseball or dribbling a basketball, Levi enjoys recreation in other areas of his life, even if some of those events have not always ended favorably.
“I’ve really gotten into playing pool, me and my dad play all the time,” Levi said. “My dad played when he was younger, so I have to beat him of course. I’m not bad, I’m pretty good I’d say, but we were playing out in our shop one time before spring break and everything with the coronavirus. It was a Sunday night, I missed a shot, I got kind of frustrated, I swung the pool stick like a baseball bat, I got turned around, and I broke my ankle and tore several tendons.”
When enduring tough times in life, some people may want to lay low and keep to themselves. Levi enjoys his alone time when going through hardships, but he does not lay low.
“I enjoy flying my little three-seater airplane during times of stress. You’re flying up there by yourself, you’re free, and you don’t think about anything else,” Levi said. “I’m working towards getting my pilot’s license with my dad’s help, and it’s a good way to clear my head.”
During his time at Chisum, Levi has enjoyed plenty of laughs and memories along the way. One of these times was particularly amusing for Levi to recall, a tale that started out cold and ended in a memorable mess.
“Me and Coach Temple always argued about everything and I always tried to fight him, and I usually would beat him up most of the time,” Levi said while laughing. “We got into it at Braum’s one time, I had a milkshake in my hands, and I slipped and accidentally spilled it all over Luke (Chalaire).”
Levi and the Mustangs (20-8, 6-6) will try to continue their historic run at 6 p.m. tonight against the No. 7-ranked Tatum Eagles (22-3, 14-0) at Athens High School in the Regional Semifinals. For more sports coverage, click here. For more local news, click here.