1984: You’ve Got to Hand it to Him

Despite losing fingertip, academic decathlete won silver medal

Mike Boydston
The loss of part of his index finger hasn't slowed down Mike Boydston, who is now a lawyer for the Environmental Protection Agency. (Photo by Andrew Fielding)

By Dan Koller | Staff Writer

As Highland Park High School competes for a state Academic Decathlon title this weekend, each member of the team will bring a wealth of knowledge to San Antonio.

Presumably, each member will also bring 10 intact fingers.

The same could not be said of the Highland Park team that hosted Texas’ first Academic Decathlon meet. The April 5, 1984, edition of Park Cities People previewed that competition by publishing a picture of team member who had lost part of a finger only days before.

The caption for that photo did not explain what happened to Boydston’s missing digit. So, nearly 27 years later, let’s clear up that little mystery.

Mike Boydston, 1984
Back in 1984, we didn’t explain Mike Boydston’s pre-meet finger injury.

Reached by phone at his home in Denver, Boydston recalled that he and other members of the University Park United Methodist Church youth group were riding horses on April Fool’s Day at a ranch in Denton County.

“We were stopped for lunch, and I was tying the horse up to a tree, when all of a sudden it just reared away with the rope wrapped around my finger,” he said.

The rope cut through Boydston’s left index finger, severing it at the last knuckle. Reattachment was impossible.

“I’m right-handed, so it’s never been a big deal. It’s not like I’m a concert pianist or a guitarist,” said Boydston, who is a lawyer for the Environmental Protection Agency. “It seemed like a big deal at the time. I think I played it up to my classmates, but it hasn’t been a huge deal in life.”

Despite his injury, Boydston earned a silver medal at Texas’ inaugural Academic Decathlon meet. That was one of 11 medals the Scots won that day, according to the April 12, 1984, edition of Park Cities People. Alas, Highland Park finished third as a team behind Spring Branch Memorial and the state champs from Richardson Pearce.

“We worked hard, relatively speaking, studying for it. It was a good experience,” Boydston said. “One of the benefits was learning about areas that weren’t part of our curriculum, like art history.”

In our coverage of that meet, Highland Park ISD Superintendent Winston Power explained that Pearce’s team — which went on to win the national championship — sacrificed their spring break to study for the state competition, while the Scots took a vacation, as most kids would. Boydston laughed when reminded of Powers’ justification.

“When I said we worked hard, we didn’t work that hard,” he said.

At the 1985 state meet, Boydston was one of two returning competitors for Highland Park. He earned two gold medals and a bronze, and HP finished second as team. The winner was — you guessed it — Pearce.

When asked if he had any words of wisdom for the current Highland Park team, Boydston said, “I’m sure they’re way smarter than we were. It would be presumptuous to give them advice.

“But the all-purpose advice for something like this is, relax, know that you’ve trained for this, and go out and have fun.”

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1984

ALSO IN THE NEWS …
University Park resident Don Turner appeared on Wheel of Fortune on Feb. 21. Turner ended up winning $7,590 in cash and prizes, including a sweet Kawasaki motorcycle worth $1,990.

Skip Hollandsworth wrote a column for Park Cities People’s March 15 edition about the popularity of pool parties. Hollandsworth is now an award-winning feature writer at Texas Monthly.

CHANGES AT THE TOP
Longtime Highland Park ISD athletic director Herman Bailey stepped down. The former Highland Park head football coach was replaced with not one, but two other former coaches: HP football legend Frank Bevers and former HP basketball coach Bo Snowden.

In both Highland Park and University Park, the candidates selected by the cities’ community leagues swept every race. While Highland Park’s Yvonne Crum didn’t win a seat, she did take home almost 30 percent of the vote.

HIGHLAND PARK HIGH SCHOOL
Valedictorian: Dana Laird
Salutatorian: Lee Johnston
Blanket Award: Laird and Josh Larson

IDLEWILD DEBUTANTES
Maria Stanton Brown, Kellie Collier Nelson, Alicia Anne Nygaard, Celia Ann Warren, Christin Holleman Warren, Terri Anna Willis

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