If you happen to be in Tehachapi on a weekday night, you might notice that this buzzing community isn’t very active. That’s because many of the residents have donned their black, green and white gear and have made the trek to Tehachapi High School to support their latest iteration of Warrior athletes.
While Tehachapi used to be a mountainous, western replica of a small Texas town that bled Warrior green and shut down on Friday nights in the fall, Warrior athletics still have plenty of support from the residents, in town or for road games, which usually take place in Bakersfield, 45 minutes away.
“The days are gone of the Friday night football where the whole town is there,” said Mike Heckahorn, the Tehachapi High track coach who previously coached the cross country team for 23 years and also coached middle school basketball, soccer, softball and junior varsity baseball along with AYSO and Little League teams for 32 years. “We’ve grown enough where we get a large amount of supporters. It’s not like it used to be in the '70s and '80s, but we still have strong support.”
The big attraction in town is the football team, which boasts 30 league titles and 11 section championships under their belts. While the recent success hasn’t been there for the team, the support remains.
“I don’t think it’s necessarily overly fanatical but it’s definitely an exciting time for the community, a one high school town,” Doug DeGeer, the head coach of the Tehachapi High football team said. ”There’s usually a lot of connections there with the kids that are playing on Friday nights. For everyone else it’s something to do for everyone to come together.”
In 2019, the main highlight was the girls basketball team. The Warriors won the South Yosemite League championship with an undefeated record before bowing out in the quarterfinals of the Division 2 quarterfinals.
“One of the biggest things I’ve noticed in my tenure has been the girls side and how strong it has gotten with parental support and following the teams and letting people know who they are,” said Heckahorn.
In all, all but two team sports qualified for the Central Section playoffs in 2019 and early 2020. Other team sports that found success were the boys basketball team and the volleyball team.
“At the same time as football season we have volleyball going on and they have been top notch, they’ve had so much success,” said DeGeer. ”They get a lot of support throughout the season.”
There was also some individual success as well. Two local wrestlers had great seasons as boys wrestler Elijah Graves finished second at 172 pounds in the Division 3 championship and girls wrestler Elizabeth Partridge finished in fourth place at 137 pounds at Masters, which is the tournament before the state championship.
Girls cross country runner Kailey Kolesar, a freshman, was named to the BVarsity first team after winning the SYL championship and posting good marks at the section and state meets.
All Warrior sports, win or lose, have the full support of the town, whether a current student or an alumni, and the games and matches are a great atmosphere for visitors to check out and enjoy while in Tehachapi.