By Britne Reeves
Earlier this year, the Van Independent School District Board of Trustees approved the honorary dedication of the high school football field after longtime Vandal football coach, Van graduate and supporting alumni Malvin Fowler, as Mal Fowler Field. The stadium will remain Vandal Memorial Stadium.
A six-foot tall archway will be illuminated on both sides, representing the name of the new field. The reveal of the archway and dedication of the field will take place at 7 p.m. Friday Sept. 13, before the Vandal’s match against Lindale.
The dedication of the field is perhaps a small token of gratitude and appreciation for the efforts and lifetime service that Fowler has given to Van ISD.
A longtime resident of Van and a significant player in Van ISD athletic department’s success, Fowler contributed many years to the educational system and still continues to do so to this day, officials said.
He now presides as the president of the board of directors for the Van ISD Educational Foundation which emphasizes raising funds for classroom instruction.
Among the educational distinctions, Fowler’s name is perhaps synomonus with the mention of Van High School football.
Fowler has a long legacy at Van, not only as a teacher and coach, but also as a student and athlete. Fowler played his first game for the Van Vandals as a sophomore at the original Van Memorial Stadium in 1946.
He received the distinction of All-Time, All-State Running Back in 1948. He also participated in track and field.
After graduating from Van High School in 1949, Fowler went on to play for Texas Christian University as a quarterback and fullback. He was the first athlete to be “red-shirted” after a knee injury.
Fowler then went on to successfully complete four years of college football during the “glory days” of TCU football.
After graduating from TCU in 1954, Fowler accepted a position from the Schreiner Institute in Kerrville for two years. During this time, Fowler received a call from J.E. Rhodes, superintendent of Van ISD at that time, requesting that he come and coach football at Van.
Fowler accepted the position and became the head football coach. At the young age of 26, Fowler began to coach for the Van Vandals, the beginning of a long career.
In 1962, Fowler left to become the assistant football coach for the TCU Horned Frogs. After those two years, he then returned to the Vandal Nation. It was in this stretch of time that Fowler achieved the most difficult accomplishment that a high school football coaching staff can achieve, the Class AA State Championship Title of 1979.
The championship title was the first UIL Championship achieved by Van High School. It was a victory not only for the team, but for the city as well.
David Barber, a 1977 graduate of Van High School and current sports correspondent for the Van Banner, recalls the day of the championship game. “The game was set in Mesquite at the Memorial Stadium, and the match between the McGregor Bulldogs and the Van Vandals, was perhaps the easiest win of all of the playoff games in that season. The score was 25-0, and it was a total shutout. That game was one of the finest performances that I have ever seen by any football team on any level in bad weather. It rained continuously, all evening long. Van did not have one turnover in the game, as I recall. It was a great team performance”
“Coach Fowler was one of my teachers in high school when I was a student, I can tell you without a doubt he is one of the most highly respected individuals that I have ever come across. I appreciated him then as a teacher and learned to appreciate him even more after I graduated high school. When you think of Van High School football, his name has to be at the top of the list,” Barber said.
Fowler went on to successfully boast a 33-year-long career with 197 wins, 135 losses and eight ties. Fowler is among the top of the Texas High School Football Coaching Records, ranked at number 79.
Fowler retired in 1993, after 39 years of coaching. His last five years were spent coaching in Canton. Fowler has spent a little over half of his life coaching football. He now resides in Canton with his wife Emma.
Van Football Field To Be Named After Mal Fowler
By Britne Reeves