Giving thanks

Big 7 coaches share what they’re thankful for

The coaches, athletic coordinators and athletic directors of the Mission, Sharyland and La Joya school districts are some of the most dedicated people you’d ever want to meet. They love what they do and they always have their student athletes’ best interest in mind in all they do. It’s been my pleasure and honor to work with them over the years that I’ve covered their teams for the Progress Times and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank them for taking time out of their busy schedules to give me an interview, to e-mail me their schedules and/or rosters and to provide me with anything else I may have needed to be able to fulfill my responsibilities as a sports writer, photographer and sports editor for the only newspaper to cover their three districts’ sports teams exclusively.

With this being the Thanksgiving weekend, I decided to give some of these dedicated individuals an opportunity to give thanks themselves. I originally planned on asking them what they are the most thankful for, but I came to realize that most of their responses would have to do with their faith and/or their families. While some did respond in this way, I suggested that they focus on something related to their positions as coaches or something that they used to take for granted prior to the COVID pandemic but have since come to appreciate much more. That’s why I asked them this question instead, “What are you thankful for and why?”

Here are their responses:

Sharyland ISD athletic director Richard Thompson said, “During this Covid-19 Pandemic it has made me appreciate the quality time that I have with friends and colleagues. In the past, you would see them regularly, give them a hand shake or hug to show them how much you care and love them. We don’t get to do that much anymore. But, we can still encourage and show our love and kindness through the words we share with them. We all need a little love, kindness and encouragement to keep moving forward during this time.”

Mission High School athletic coordinator and head football coach Koy Detmer said, “I am Thankful for the opportunity to come back home to Mission to coach the Mighty Mission Eagles and give back everything I can to the place that gave me so much.”

Sharyland High School athletic coordinator and head football coach Ron Adame said, “I am thankful to all our athletes and their parents for allowing them to participate in athletics. I am also thankful to all our coaches who spend countless hours with these athletes. I am also thankful to my athletic secretary, Pamela Saenz, who helps me stay organized.”

Pioneer Lady Diamondbacks head volleyball coach Laura Cavazos said, “I am thankful for waking up each morning and doing something that I absolutely love. I am thankful for the incredibly talented and dedicated student-athletes who I’ve had the privilege to coach. I am thankful to the Pioneer volleyball parents for their support, dedication and for going above and beyond for their daughters and our program. I’m thankful for working for a remarkable school district. I’m especially thankful for our administrators, staff, and students for making Sharyland the best place to work and simply be a part of. I’m thankful for the mentorship provided to me by my former coaches and teammates who surround me with support and encouragement through every up and down of coaching. I’m thankful for my health, for my church and my strong faith in God. Finally, I’m thankful for the love and support of my family, especially my husband, Jaime, and our sons Jacen and Logan.”

Sharyland Pioneer athletic coordinator and head football coach Tommy Lee said, “I am thankful for the opportunity to work with amazing administrators, teachers, coaches, and students that want to achieve greatness!  Thankful is a just a fraction of what I feel to work with this district and school!!”

Pioneer Lady Diamondbacks head soccer coach J.J. Lopez said, “While these are some trying times, we still have plenty to be thankful for. I am thankful to be getting the opportunity to be with my soccer team once again because I know that the memories we build together will be something they will remember for the rest of their lives.”

Sharyland Lady Rattlers head softball coach Paul Cruz said, “After a career spanning more than 25 years as the head softball coach at Sharyland High School, I’m blessed to have an extended softball family that includes players, parents, children of former athletes, officials, and fellow coaches. I coach alongside my former standout athletes like Nicole Smedley, Clarissa Salinas-Cardenas and Nancy Diaz. Plus, my game officials are sometimes former Lady Rattlers, like Amanda Baker, and my fellow retired coaches are now Mission CISD School Board Members, like Iris Iglesias. One of my greatest joys was coaching my daughter Anastasia for four years. And through it all I’ve had the love and support of my number one fan, my wife Nicole Cruz. “

Mission Lady Eagles head soccer coach William Proctor said, “I am most thankful for my wife, kids and parents. I love my job and appreciate all of the students and athletes that have made the past 29 years an awesome experience.”

Pioneer High School head baseball coach Casey Smith said, “Thankful for the challenges we face as they grow our faith and shape us into who we are created to be.”

Palmview Lobos head baseball coach Manuel “Ricky” Garcia said, “One of the things that I might have taken for granted is not spending enough time with loved ones and friends; especially if we have lost someone to Covid-19. When we get back to normal, if we ever do, I will savor them regularly. The things I miss most and won’t take for granted again are, sitting with my students in a class, teaching face-to-face while looking into their eyes, knocking at my neighbor’s door for a chat, going out with my beloved for a cup of coffee in a cozy coffee place and opening food delivery and parcels peacefully, without any thought of disinfecting.”

In closing, I’d like to add that I think it’s safe to say that there are things, and people, in our lives that have always been there for us so we have grown to take them for granted. Now that so many of those things, and people, are not part of our daily lives anymore, we realize how special they were to us. If there’s one positive that has come out of this pandemic, it’s the fact that most of us have come to appreciate so many of those things, and the relationships we had with those people, so much more. It is my hope that we will continue doing so long after this pandemic is over. Only then will we be able to use this tragedy to change our lives for the better. – Luciano Guerra          

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