Texas Allstar Express
The Texas Allstar Express Flyball Team was founded in early spring of 1990 by Ann Weingartner and Betty Carroll and their Cockers, At=92em and Rose, and was the 3rd flyball team founded in Texas. We were, however, the first unaffiliated team founded here, since Black and Gold, the first Texas team, was affiliated with Flashpaws Agility, and the second team, Hot Dog, was an offspring of the Hot Dog Obedience Club. Consequently the Allstars had the unique (to Texas) problem of how to increase membership and create a homogeneous group out of the total strangers who came to practice in response to our ad placed in the Canine Classified, a local dog-event magazine. One factor in doing this successfully is the weekly team newsletter (for members only) put out by Betty, now in its 4th year. For some time now we've been the oldest racing group in Texas, the first two having become defunct. (Although the Hot Dog team is getting ready to rise soon from the ashes, a happy day for all.) The Allstars have gone through growing pains, as all groups do, and have varied over the years from very large to very small. In the process we've "given birth" to several other Texas flyball teams (The Texas Tornado being the most outstanding). Because of the difficulties inherent in creating the best possible teams out of a large and variable group of people and dogs, we decided awhile back to limit ourselves to racing no more than 4 teams at a time. This seems to be an effective way to limit our size without having to make rules about how many can join us or why or when. One advantage we here in Texas have over the older flyball areas up north is that so far we haven't had to have many limited-entry tournaments, so the Texas clubs have been able to put as many teams as they wanted to into almost every tournament. However, flyball is growing so fast in Texas that limited-entry time is surely just around the corner, and that will be another challenge for us.
In the meantime, one of the most outstanding features of our team is that we race many breeds of dogs (as opposed to mostly Border Collies) and have been unexpectedly successful with our Red (multibreed) team against the newly created Border Collie teams racing with other clubs. The handwriting is on the wall, though; no multibreed team can beat a really good BC team, and we are even now in the process of forming our own BC team. Among our racing breeds are Shelties, Cockers, a Rottweiler, Russells, a Flat Coat, a Yorkie, a Pom, an Airedale, Eskies, Collies, Aussies, a Greyhound, Standard Poodles, assorted mixes, and, of course, the Borders. In the past we've also had Goldens, a Newfie, the Viszlas, Springers, and others. Lately two dogs with lots of promise, a Brittany and an Am Staff, have joined our group. We don't have the luxury of having non-racing people to help out the team at practice (how we wish we did!) and, in fact, are now running into the problem of having so many multiple-dog owners that it's hard for us to race our teams against each other at practice before a tournament because so many of us have one or more dogs on one or more teams.
We run our team as a loose-knit group with no parliamentary structure and few rules, and we share team responsibilities such as training director, tournament director, equipment manager, etc. (This leads to the occasional major goof-up such as the nightmare time, several years ago, when we arrived at our tournament site, 90 miles from Houston, in different cars, only to discover that half the small horizontal boards of our jumps were still at home, each of us thinking someone else had them. Fortunately we were rescued by some of our guys and some Tornado guys, who cleverly found some drywall stashed on the tournament site, went and bought a saw, and quickly cut us some boards. The other teams were really nice about it, but it was certainly not our finest moment!) Each of our members brings something unique to the team; however, a few members are absolutely outstanding in their dedication to the sport and to us. They are John Kelly with his Airedale Winston (who has unfortunately had to make a career change involving moving to Kansas, a major loss for us), Mike Smith with his rough Collies Coat and Belle, our creative and dedicated equipment builder and care-taker, Carol Fatheree with her BC Cajun (at last count the fastest BC in Texas) and her 3-lb. Pom Dixie (possibly the smallest dog doing flyball) our training advisor and an inspiration to us all, and Ann Weingartner with her Ausse Ricky and her BC Pico, who, in spite of many, many misfortunes suffered with past dogs is always unfailingly supportive and is always there when we need her to do that extra thing. We collect dues from members ($10 per month), and with that money we buy our equipment and pay all entry fees. We do it this way so that entry fees are never a financial hardship for anyone, especially those of us with multiple dogs. We also fund about two parties a year for ourselves, more if need be (for showers, expectant mothers, people moving away, etc.) We meet outside weekly for about an hour and a half year-around, and even though we meet early on Saturday mornings at the coolest time of day, in the Houston summer heat that's a real challenge and shows the dedication of our members! One of the many good characteristics of our group is how willing we are, as individuals, to delay our own training needs for a few minutes and take the time to box-load or time or distract or whatever it is that someone else really needs. We are a warm and friendly family-oriented group and have had the pleasure of having as members the first two junior handlers in Texas to put flyball championships on their dogs (Alice Blair with her Golden, Hunnie, and Sarah Hastings with her Aussie, Pearl. We are also proud to have the as a member the first Texas dog to accrue, completely in Texas, the 5000 points necessary for an FM. This is Rose, a red/white particolor cocker belonging to Betty Carroll. Rose's achievement is made all the more significant by the fact that she got her first 2000 points before we got a team fast enough to get under 24. She's not as fast as a Border, by any means, but there's no Border alive who does flyball with more dedication, enthusiasm or determination than Rose.
When the Texas Allstar team was founded, the Astrohall tournament put on by the Hot Dog club was the only tournament available in Houston or anywhere in Southwest. We wanted to increase interest in flyball locally and give everyone another chance to compete, so we gave the first non-Astrohall flyball tournament in the area, and since 1990 we've given two tournaments a year. Once the ice was broken Hot Dog and Black and Gold started giving tournaments too, and by the time they became defunct there were other teams to give tournaments, so now there are 6 or 8 tournaments a year given in Texas.
For more information about the Texas Allstars, contact Betty Carroll at 713-469-2472 or E-mail Carol Fatheree at CLFatheree@aol.com