No Place Like Home
Nov 04, 2016 10:58AM ● Published by Ashley Pape
Every Dragon has a different journey after graduation. While Carroll grads could settle anywhere, sometimes their paths lead them right back to their hometown. We caught up with a few Dragon alumni who established careers and are raising families and building their lives right here in the Southlake area. They’re not in town just for the holidays; this is home.
THE GOOD OL’ DAYS
Matt Woolsey, general manager of Park Place Lexus Grapevine and Dragon class of 1992, recalls a time when life in Southlake moved at a slower pace.
“Growing up, I could ride my bicycle up and down 1709 and go five minutes without seeing a car,” he says. “Our little town has grown up a lot. We’re pretty far removed from the Dairy Queen days.”
Some of Woolsey’s favorite memories as a Dragon include one-act plays and golf tournaments. But, when he thinks back to his high school days, what really stands out are the football games. Woolsey lived right across the street from the old Dragon Stadium and wouldn’t miss a game. “We’d get there early, reserve the front row and several rows up, and we’d get loud,” he says.
There was even a Friday night when Woolsey’s dog Cujo (“Don’t let the name fool you,” he reassures) ran out onto the field and interrupted the game. “It was a funny moment,” Woolsey says, “but could you imagine that happening today?”
Football games also bring back many happy memories for Mike Lafavers, owner of Feedstore BBQ and Dragon class of 1978. He fondly remembers the spirited competition, homecoming bonfires and victory parties—even if the Dragons didn’t win. To him and many others, being a Dragon is always something to celebrate. “It’s a lifestyle,” says Lafavers, who was voted his senior year as “Friendliest” and “Class Favorite.” “My class was so small, I probably only got five votes,” he says, “but that was enough to get a majority.”
Darrell Brown, fire chief for the Grapevine Fire Department and Dragon class of 1983, also has happy memories of Dragon football. But he wasn’t in the stands on Friday night; he was on the field, playing football under legendary coach Bob Ledbetter.
When the hot Texas sun blazed down on two-a-days in the summer, it didn’t bother Coach Ledbetter. “He wasn’t fazed by the heat,” recalls Brown, who credits his Dragon coaches and teachers for instilling a strong work ethic in students and athletes.
“They taught us that we were to take what we could from them and go make a difference for others,” Brown says.
“[We learned] that our deeds, actions and successes are all about working together for the greater good of the team, community and family.”
That sense of community is what Sean and Erin Avery, husband-and-wife owners of Zippy Shell and Dragon class of 1998, cherish the most from their days in Carroll—and it’s a big reason why they’re raising their two children in Southlake. “You’re part of a great program, from a great school from a great community,” says Sean.
Home Sweet Home
When Dragons leave the den after graduation, what makes them return to Southlake? For the Averys, moving home was both a business and a family decision. The couple met in eighth grade at Carroll Middle School and went on different paths after high school graduation—Sean to Texas A&M University to study engineering and Erin to Pennsylvania State University to study business.
The two happened to reconnect on a business flight to London, and the rest, as they say, is history. Sean and Erin got married at White’s Chapel United Methodist Church and settled in Houston. But when baby made three, they decided to leave the city and plant roots in their hometown.
“When we welcomed our first child, Caroline, we decided we wanted to raise her in Southlake, surrounded by friends and family,” Sean says.
In October 2015, they moved back to Southlake and opened their business, Zippy Shell, a portable storage and moving company. And this October, their second daughter, Victoria, was born. With a growing family and a growing business, these former Dragons are just happy to be home.
“Southlake, over 20 years later, is still a great place to live and raise a family,” Erin says. “We’re Dragons at heart and we feel so fortunate to have benefitted from an amazing Carroll ISD education.”
Passion for the City and Schools
Woolsey of Park Place Lexus Grapevine was quick to leave Southlake after graduation—and also quick to return after college. Two days after he graduated from Carroll, Woolsey headed to the University of Texas at Austin to pursue his degree in business economics. As a college grad, he returned to Grapevine, where he worked for a small insurance company. However, his new job was short-lived; the company went out of business soon after Woolsey started.
“I was six months out of college and needed to find a job,” says Woolsey. “I decided to sell cars at Park Place. Well, I didn’t find just a job; I found a career. I fell in love with this business and have been with Park Place ever since.”
There’s no denying Woolsey’s community pride. He’s on the board of the Southlake Chamber of Commerce, and last year he completed the chamber’s Leadership Class, which helped raise $20,000 for middle school band programs through the Band-Aide initiative. One of the fundraising events was held at Park Place Lexus Grapevine, with his son Austin performing in the band.
“It was quite an honor seeing my son play in the jazz band at my place of business,” says Woolsey.
He and his wife, Anne, have two sons in the district: Austin is a senior and president of Dragon Band, and Bennett is in eighth grade. Woolsey is grateful his children are Dragons just as he was.
“The education in Carroll ISD truly is unparalleled,” he says. “#ExpectExcellence isn’t just a catchphrase; it’s a promise.”
A Neighboring Dragon
In Southlake, green and white are practically the city’s official colors. But Brown, Grapevine’s fire chief, has learned to love the color red, too; all four of his daughters are Grapevine Mustangs, and his wife of 30 years, Lisa, is an educator in Grapevine- Colleyville ISD. “I’m still a Dragon, though,” he says. “They will all tell you that I bleed green.”
Darrell Brown didn’t venture far from Southlake after graduation; he joined the Lewisville Fire Department the fall after he graduated, became a certified firefighter and paramedic before the age of 20 and never looked back. In 2011, he joined the Grapevine Fire Department, where he became fire chief in 2014.
“This is a lifelong goal and proof that working hard, preparing yourself and serving others pays off.”
A Southlake Legacy
Lafavers of Feedstore BBQ could certainly affirm Brown’s thoughts on working hard and serving others— since 2001, his family-owned restaurant has been feeding the Southlake community some of the best barbecue and fixin’s around.
After he graduated from Carroll, Lafavers didn’t jump immediately into the barbecue business. He worked in the transportation industry, then as a contractor for Jack Daniels, working as the onsite promotion manager for the George Strait Country Music Festival. When the tour ended, his family asked him to help out in the restaurant.
Lafavers did more than just offer an extra pair of hands; he helped build Feedstore BBQ into a beloved Southlake icon. But it’s not just the family restaurant that makes Southlake home for Lafavers; he has lived here since 1974, when his parents moved to town for the school district. His children, now grown, were all Dragons. Now, he awaits his family’s next generation of Dragons. And in the meantime, he’ll make sure the Southlake community is fed well.
“The restaurant still contributes either through donations or deep discounts for all CISD schools,” says Lafavers. “Southlake is a special city, but the school district is its ‘signature’ product.”
Good to be Home
In this holiday season of bustling schedules, home-cooked delights and more family time than you can shake a turkey leg at, there’s no better time to come home. And the Carroll grads who still reside in Southlake know better than anybody: There’s no place they’d rather be.
DRAGON ALUMS RECOUNT THEIR FAVORITE CLASSES
World history with Ms. Highfield
Calculus with Mr. Kantaris
Business math with Coach Ken Cook, algebra with Ms. Wanda Bradberry Carter or typing with Mrs. Cullum—it’s a toss-up!
Woodshop with Mr. Mayfield. Our classes were so small that all my teachers’ classes were fun to be in.
Theater. Mr. Jon Skupin taught us so much!