"The mission of the American Sokol is to provide fitness and community for individuals and family through physical, educational, cultural and social programs."
Thomas Betik (Chair), Benny Trojacek, Randy Owen, Laura Trojacek, Ray Elleven, Mike Liska, Liz Krajca, Dennis Zembala, David Slovak, Michelle Slovak
President – Thomas Betik
Vice-President – Benny Trojacek
Second Vice-President – Randy Owen
Secretary – Laura Trojacek
Financial Secretary – Ray Elleven
Treasurer – Mike Liska
Physical Director – Liz Krajca
Educational Director – Dennis Zembala
Membership Director – David Slovak
Public Relations Director / Webmaster – Michelle Slovak
Editor of Publication – Chuck Kalat
Auditing / Budget & Finance – Sandy Rayford (Chair), Mike Liska, Vacant
Constitution & Bylaws – Ray Elleven (Chair), David Liska, Lori Macalik
Property (Board of Trustees) / Club Board - Thomas Betik (Chair), Benny Trojacek, Laura Trojacek, Mike Liska, Charles Walker, Randy Owen, Ben Trickett, Mayfair Mullican, David Slovak, Rusty Liska, Brandon Smith, Dennis Zembala
Reconciliation – John Marek (Chair), Brian Zhanel, Chris Gilburt
Ways & Means (Fundraising) – Michelle Slovak (Chair), Lori Macalik, Benny Trojacek, David Slovak, Thomas Betik, Sandy Rayford, Amy Smith, John Marek (10K Event Coordinator)
Southern District Delegates – David Slovak (Lead), Liz Krajca, Ray Elleven (alternate)
Nat’l Convention 2018 Delegates – Ray Elleven, Lori Macalik, Jan Kalat (alternate)
Nat’l Polka Fest Delegates – Lori Macalik (Lead), David Liska, Diane Liska, Rusty Liska
American Czech Culture Society Delegates – John Marek (Lead), Jean Beebe, Keith Kapavik
Swimming Pool – Anthony Macalik (Chair), Jerry Wester, Wes Odlozil, Randy Owen
Museum & Library Curator – Georgie Morales
Board of Instructors Treasurer – Judi Tabb
Groundskeeper – Jerry Wester
Purpose of Sokol Ennis
Provide for training in good citizenship conformable to the spirit of the Constitution of the United States of America.
Provide physical training by teaching gymnastics, physical education, and athletics.
Cooperate with Sokols around the world to provide for the physical and moral training of all members in accordance with the Sokol principles of Miroslav Tyrš, Doctor of Philosophy and Founder of the Sokol movement.
Work for the common interest and improvement of the Americans of Czech and Slovak descent in the United States of America and to safeguard their good name.
Maintain in succeeding generations an interest in Czech and Slovak cultural life in the United States of America.
Support the learning of the Czech language and culture.
Promote the preservation of the traditions of democracy.
Work and cooperate with the Česká Obec Sokolská (ČOS) and other Sokol organizations worldwide in all their social and athletic activities.
Work and cooperate with the World Sokol Federation.
Maintain a library dedicated to the teaching of Czech language, history, music, culture, and physical education.
Teach the above branches of learning to anyone who might apply on a purely nonprofit basis
"Whatever is Czech is also Sokol..." - Miroslav Tyrš (Sokol founder)
Our Unit Namesake
Sokol Ennis is a unit (chapter) of the American Sokol Organization. Our unit was named after Karel Havlíček Borovský who was born on October 31, 1821, in Borova in Southeastern Bohemia, near Německého, Brodu. Living during a period of Czech and Slovák revival, he came to be a fearless journalist and the political leader of the younger generation.
He began writing as early as grammar school when he started composing poems in German and in Czech. He made a great effort to learn the Czech language thoroughly, despite the German surroundings of his youth and the Slovák influence in the area. After studying philosophy in grammar school, he decided to be a priest.
Beginning in his studies for the priesthood in a seminary in Prague, Havlíček became disillusioned with some of the professors and students and spent most of his time studying history instead. He was eventually suspended. Although his father wanted him to become a lawyer, Karel preferred to be a grammar school teacher.
Havlíček continued, however, to think of a career in journalism. As Havlíček expanded his journalistic work, he edited various Czech papers and kept working for the right of the Czech Language to be spoken in the schools and in public. He stressed the Slavic tongue and culture. Fighting for freedom of the press, he expressed his feelings for everyone to be given free voting power, and also expressed his knowledge and ideas about religion.
In December 1851, the police captured Havlíček and carried him to jail in the little town of Tyrolean, in Brixen where he remained a prisoner for the next three and a half years. He was released in 1855, after promising to give up all his political and literary work. Returning to Německého, he died of tuberculosis one year later on July 29, 1856. His funeral was held in Prague and was a national mourning.
Historians have called Karel Havlíček Borovský a brave man, without fear and shame, a true Czech, and one of the most knowledgeable and best like characters that the Czech land has born. Czech esteem and affectionate regard for him can be compared to the American love for Abraham Lincoln. Havlíček’s services for his nation were of the same value.
History of Sokol Ennis
As Sokol Ennis is now in it's 108th year we reflect on the organization's rich and interesting history. The organization is proud of its members' dedication to Sokol ideals.
During the 108 years of our unit, our membership had faced many challenges in promoting the Sokol movement founded by Miroslav Tyrš and Jindřich Fuegner in 1862 in Prague, Czechoslovakia. The first challenge was met by the 25 immigrants that brought the Sokol idea from their homeland and in 1908 formed this unit. They named it after Karel Havlíček Borovský, a beloved Czech patriot, who faced many challenges during his lifetime.
After our organization in 1908, gym classes were held at the SPJST National Hall. In 1911, one acre of land (part of our current property) was purchased. In 1912, the first gymnasium was built for $4500. It burned down within six months. The second building was completed in 1913 for $4000 and some free labor. That building burned down sometime between 1914 and 1916. In 1917 construction began on our third building. It stood on the lower southwest corner of our current property, was built for $6000, and stood for 19 years. Due to the need for extensive repairs on the building, the members decided instead to build the fourth gymnasium which was completed in 1936 for $7000, plus free labor. An additional acre of land had been purchased in 1935. Three more adjoining acres were purchased in 1969. Our fifth building, the Sokol Gymnastic Center, was dedicated February 20-21, 1971. At that time, the value of the land and building was approximately $150,000. Additional acreage of 13.5 was purchased in 1974 at the cost of $2500 an acre. Tyrš Pool was completed in 1972. January 24, 1990 shortly before 11pm our 19 year old center caught fire. With the high winds the fire department was not able to save the building or it's contents. All 15 people in the social club at the time of the fire escaped without injury. The Sokol Gymnastic Center building and contents may have been lost, but the Sokol Spirit was not about to knuckle under. Within 48 hours of the fire and with the help of the Ennis Fire Dept., the American flag once again flew proudly from the flagpole as a symbol of our enduring spirit. Within days also, a special meeting was held by the Board of Instructors and plans were in place to continue classes, limited as they would have to be to "floor" activities, at the KJT Auditorium. The February membership meeting (attended by an extraordinarily large number of members) took up the question of what to do next. The question was never "if", but only "how quickly" could we rebuild? President Larry Laznovsky was empowered to select and convene a building committee to get on with the job at hand. At this point, no one could try appreciate the magnitude of the ask being undertaken.
Although the KJT allowed us to conduct classes in their facility, it would be necesary to relocate to another facility that would better support a full gymnastic program. The old vacant Studebaker warehouse in town was the choice and became known as the "warehouse gym". Thanks to our membership renovation work & cleanup was undertaken. Sokol Žižka & Sokol Ft. Worth loaned us gymnastic equipment. The pool house on our property was also used for meetings until the pool was to open for the summer. At this time it was decided to build a permanent 40 X 60, 2400 sq. ft. storage building which would house the social club, serve as our meeting place, and be able to hold any building materials. National Polka Festival was coming and we needed to decide what we would do. As planned we participated by having a large "Big Top" tent on our property. We also hosted the Southern District Slet utilizing the warehouse gym, St. John's gym, the SPJST hall, and our own drill field at "the property", as it had come to be known.
On August 28th, the building committee (Bros. Larry Lazvnovsky, Sammy Pleiner, Mark Kelley, Lou Green, Bill Snodgrass, and Jerry Wester) presented the building/floor plans for the new building. Soon afterwards this massive job was started. Many members donated their time & energy to help with the building & cleanup. On April 21, 1991, the doors opened for the grand opening of the new Sokol Activity Center.
Although much personal sacrifice was required in order for Sokol to survive, especially during the depression years, the years were memorable. Musical inspiration was provided by the Sokol Band which performed at all our activities. Annual events included the posvícení (a bazaar type event with a gym program and dinner), a May celebration complete with a greased maypole to climb for gifts awaiting at the top, Czech Independence Day in October, masquerade, Halloween, Easter, and New Year's Dances were traditional. Mother's and Father's Day socials were held. Socials many times were held for no particular reason, but just to get together.
In the early days, gymnasts traveled by buggy to get to classes. Apparatus was limited, but other activities took its place; marching and singing were popular. Tug of war was enjoyed and hand apparatus was used. Exhibitions (veřejně cvičeni) were held locally each year and together with other units. We also had akademie (programs on the stage). Gymnasts from neighboring units visited each other and participated in exhibitions. Exhibitions have continued in Ennis through the years.
We are proud each year to be part of the National Polka Festival. We have a float or a marching unit of gymnasts in the parade each year as well as polka bands at the activity center. We also annually participate in Heritage Day at the State Fair of Texas in Dallas. The unit's first participation in this event was in 1936 in the Cotton Bowl. The unit also performed in the Czech Sesquicentennial program in the Cotton Bowl in 1986. Other memorable performances include pre-game and half-time performances at Texas Stadium in Irving.
As testimony to the brotherhood of our organization, we have enjoyed a close association with other Czech organizations. Many of these have shared our homes with us. These included Lodge Volná Čechie, SPJST 135 WFLA Texas Libbie Lodge 402, RVOS Lodge 135, and the Ennis Ladies Sewing Circle.
In 1989 Sokol Ennis was honored by the Gymnastic Association of the State of Texas for its "Service to Youth". Further recognition was given for 80 years of continuous gymnastic training and for being the oldest such organization in the state.
Ennis is currently the seat of the Southern District of the American Sokol Organization. We will continue to play a role in the preservation of the Sokol Idea and our Czech culture as we practice fellowship of men and women who pursue a program of gymnastics and physical education for its development of good health, sound moral values, and to live in harmony for mankind. With the philosophy of "Physical perfection should go hand in hand with a noble mind", Sokol Ennis will continue to carry on the work of its forefathers.
Presidents of Sokol Ennis
ALOIS JURCIK (1908-1910) Bro. Jurcik was the father of our unit. He and the 24 other charter members laid the cornerstone of our future.
FRANK TOUPAL (1911-1914) Bro. Toupal also served as District President during the years when the seat of the District was in Ennis.
JOSEPH BUNATA (1915-1918; 1920-1924) Bro. Bunata came to Ennis from the Chicago, IL area to continue his work in Sokol.
FRANK PETR, SR (1918-1919) Bro. Petr was a charter member of our unit.
FRANK MOUCKA (1920) Bro. Moucka was also a leader of the Sokol Band for many years.
JERRY ZAZVORKA (1925-1945) Bro. Zazvorka served our unit for 20 years during the heart of the depression.
FRANK LAZNOVSKY (1946-1952) Bro. Laznovsky devoted many years to Sokol work.
BOB ZAZVORKA (1950) Bro. Zazvorka was a member for 50+ years. He served as president briefly for a few months, in addtion to other offices.
JOE B. HEJNY (1953-1956) Although Bro. Hejny served just a few years, he was an inspiration to our unit.
JOSEPH VYTOPIL (1957-1963) Bro. Vytopil's philosophy and guidance will long be remembered. He also served as directory of plays, educational directory, and held other offices.
STANLEY HOUDEK (1964) Bro. Houdek was a very devoted Sokol. He also served for many years as an instructor and náčelnik.
CHARLIE A. JURCIK (1965-1968) Following in the footsteps of his father, the first president of our unit, Bro. Charlie was also one of our most ardent leaders. He served as vice-president and also as dues and pledges officer, with his wife, for many years.
EDWIN LAZNOVSKY (1969-1975) Bro. Edwin also followed in his father's footsteps. He led us through many of our "growing pains". He also served as vice-president for many years.
DON YORK (1976-1979) Bro. York exemplified the youth of our organization. He was a very capable leader.
LAWRENCE LAZNOVSKY (1980 - 2011) Bro. Larry became president after serving as Director of Men for 16 years. He was also Southern District Director of Men, President of the Southern District, and the American Sokol President for 10 years 2000-2010.
DAVID F. SLOVAK (April 2011-2016) Bro. David was asked to step in due to the unexpected passing of Bro. Larry Laznovsky. Prior to his presidency, Bro. David served as Public Relations Director for the unit and Southern District, on the Board of Trustees, and the Ways and Means Committee. He was also a delegate to the American Czech Culture Society. Bro. David is dedicated to continuing the mission of the Sokol and moving forward as Bro. Larry and all the previous presidents worked towards.
THOMAS BETIK (November 2016-) Bro. Thomas has served as Men's Physical Director, on the Board of Trustees, and Southern District Education Director, and delegate to Southern District