2018 UIL Sponsor Excellence Award Winners


Six-man expert

AUSTIN — The University Interscholastic League is proud to recognize 15 of the best UIL sponsors in Texas as the 2018 UIL Sponsor Excellence Award winners.

The winners were selected by a panel of judges in the areas of academics, athletics and music from nominations submitted by school principals and superintendents across the state.

The award, now in its 28th year, was created to identify and recognize outstanding sponsors who enable students to develop and refine their extracurricular talents to the highest degree possible within the education system.

“Coaches and teachers have such a difficult job, and they go beyond the call of duty to serve as UIL sponsors, coaches and directors,” said UIL Executive Director Dr. Charles Breithaupt. “UIL events function and thrive on the dedication and immense effort from sponsors like these. On behalf of the UIL, I commend these outstanding educators.”

Each winner will receive $1,000 and a symbolic memento from the UIL in recognition of their outstanding achievements in the pursuit of educational excellence through interscholastic competition. The League continually strives to strengthen and promote the role of extracurricular activities in Texas through programs like the UIL Sponsor Excellence Award.

The UIL Sponsor Excellence Award winners for 2018 are as follows:

Cindy Huseman, Nazareth High School
Cindy Huseman has coached UIL Academics at Nazareth High School for the past 19 years, which includes CX Debate, Academics, and Speech. She has been the school’s UIL Academic Coordinator for the past five years where she has led 39 teams to the State Academic Meet, and her team won the state championship in Journalism in 2016 and 2017. During her career, Huseman has also been the UIL Academic Coordinator for the elementary and junior high schools, as well as serving on the regional advisory committee.

“Competition is vital in all aspects of education,” Huseman said. “It gives the students something to strive for, and ultimately leads to success in all areas—sports and academics. It builds teamwork and a work ethic. All members of the faculty play a vital role in shaping our students to be the best that they can be.”

Travis Walker, Abbott High School
At both Abbott High School and Aquilla High School, Travis Walker has been a coach in One-Act Play, Film, Speech and Theatrical Design. He was also a baseball, basketball, cross country, football and track coach for over 10 years. At Abbott, Walker led his teams to two state One-Act Play titles, three runner-up finishes and three Samuel French award winners. He also guided four students to State Outstanding Technician awards.

“I believe that competition should be an integral part of any educational system,” Walker said. “Competition is what allows students to put the knowledge and skills they have learned to the test. The UIL academic competition teaches students to push themselves beyond their comfort zone and to realize more of their potential than they would normally achieve.”

Bonnie Anderson – Littlefield High School
Bonnie Anderson has dedicated 40 years to UIL Music. She has been band director for 40 years and coached State Solo & Ensemble for 34 years. Anderson has led Littlefield High School the past 26 years with her bands earning 14-consecutive UIL Sweepstakes awards and advancing to the State Marching Contest in four of the last five seasons. Her students have advanced to the State Solo & Ensemble contest in each of the past 10 years.

“I believe it is my job to teach my students to be the best they can be,” Anderson said. “It doesn’t matter what size town or school you are from, if you want a certain goal, you can attain it with hard work and dedication. I feel it is my job to teach them responsibility and how to earn respect from your teachers and friends.”

Deanna Coleman, Lewisville The Colony High School
During her 20-year career in softball, Deanna Coleman has led three different teams to the State Tournament, winning a state title with Richland High School and Lewisville The Colony High School. Overall, Coleman has won seven district championships and made three state tournament appearances. She has amassed a career record of 427-125 and was named Texas Girls Coaches Association Coach of the Year once.

“My philosophy of competition is to have fun as a team,” Coleman said. “You won’t remember every play but you will remember your teammates. Being a part of a team is not just about learning the fundamentals of softball, it’s much bigger than that. It’s about learning how to solve differences and come together for a common goal. The success of how your personal family team works together and communicates will depend on the skills you learn in your teens.”

Cindy Couch, Shallowater High School
During her 33-year career in UIL Academics and One-Act Play, Cindy Couch has coached at Lockney High School, Olton High School and currently Shallowater High School. At Shallowater, her teams have advanced to area 13 times, regionals 10 times, and have been a state finalist three times. At Lockney and Olney, Couch coached prose, poetry, and debate.

“Theater should be student-centered,” Couch said. “I believe collaboration is at the core of theatrical work and that it must be encouraged at all times. It is crucial when emerging artists are encouraged to discover and, in turn, define their place in and responsibility for community and the world at large. Theater can and should be a vehicle for social change.”

Kimberly Fryman, Mount Enterprise High School
Throughout her 16 years in UIL Academic Competition and One-Act Play, Kimberly Fryman has been the Academic Coordinator at Mount Enterprise High School. Her OAP teams have won 14-consecutive district championships, advanced to regionals nine times and the state finals twice. She has helped students reach the State Theatrical Design meet in each of the last four years.

“I believe UIL competition helps foster the development of young adults who are prepared to positively contribute to the workforce and their community upon graduation,” said Fryman. “UIL Competition develops the skills that help young adults achieve success in their endeavors both during and after high school. Students who participate in UIL competition learn the value of teamwork. They develop personal integrity, confidence, problem-solving skills, and a respect for each other.”

Christina Guerrero, San Antonio Cole High School
Christina Guerrero has been head coach of the San Antonio Cole High School Girls Basketball team for the past 20 years. While at the helm, she led the team to 10 district championships, three regional appearances, and one state tournament appearance. She also coached the tennis teams at SA Cole for the past 11 seasons, leading the squads to three district championships, and three girls individual state singles titles. Coaching cross country the past four seasons, Guerrero led the boys squad to a state runner-up finish in 2015 and district championships on both sides all four years.

“The mission of the Fort Sam Houston ISD is to develop the hearts and minds of all students, empowering them to become successful, active contributors in a changing global community,” Guerrero said. “We develop an environment that emphasizes teamwork, personal success, and community through competition. I have always been a coach who believes in the little things, in the process and I would be willing to sacrifice a win in order to teach valuable lessons.”

Gary Joseph, Katy High School
Gary Joseph has been coaching football for 41 years, with the last 15 years coming as head coach at Katy High School. He has amassed a career record of 201-20 while leading his team to 13 district titles, eight state championship appearances and four state titles. His team never won less than 10 games in a season. He was the president of the Texas High School Coaches Association for one year and served on the board of directors for three years. He also was a member of the UIL Football Rules Committee and the UIL Football Location Committee.

“I believe in developing relationships with student-athletes in an attempt to inspire, help them grow as young men, and lead them toward a never say die excellence, through the development of respect, hard work, and unselfishness,” Joseph said.

Eric Mears, Lewisville Flower Mound High School
Eric Mears has been involved in UIL Academics for 17 years with the last 14 years coming at Flower Mound High School. He has been the speech and debate director all 17 years and has served as the academic coordinator the past three years. Mears has led his teams to 13 consecutive district championships, eight regional championships and 13 appearances at the state academic meet. In 2011, he guided his team to the UIL State Academic Championship. He has been a member of the speech regional advisory committee for three years and has been a leader of more than a dozen workshops and panels at the Texas State Speech Communication Association Convention.

“Competition plays an increasingly vital role in the educational experience of students and parents,” Mears said. “It is my goal to teach kids the ability to get beaten but not beaten down, to lose but not be a loser, or to fail but not succumb to failure, and is no longer a foundational soft skill in the academic classroom.”

Michael Merritte, Galveston Ball High School
For the past 33 years, Michael Merritte has been an UIL Academic coach for Galveston Ball High School. During his time at Ball, Merritte was the head speech coach for 30 years and the school’s academic coordinator the past seven years. He has led his teams to multiple district championships and six appearances at the state meet. Merritte has also served on the UIL State Speech Advisory Committee, UIL Regional Advisory Committee, and has been a judge at numerous UIL academic competitions.

“I see my UIL competition philosophy, and Galveston Ball HS’s educational mission as seamless, they are inseparable,” said Merritte. “Both challenge students to be lifelong practitioners of ethos, pathos, and logos. My high school speech teacher taught me that. I attempt to incorporate the same focused mentally challenging, and life changing learning environment.”

Anthony Newberry, Wichita Falls Hirschi High School
Anthony Newberry has been a UIL Academic coach at Wichita Falls Hirschi High School for the last 19 years. He has coached teams in calculator applications, computer science, mathematics, and number sense. Under his tutelage, his squads have captured 45 district titles, appeared at the state academic meet 23 times, and won three team state titles. He has also had five individuals win a state title.

“Academic competition is an integral part of a school’s curriculum,” Newberry said. “The benefits of them are many, but there are a few key points that especially stand out to me. First, is the true benefit of not a state medal or an award, but rather an increase in critical thinking ability and problem-solving skills. Second, is the realization that hard work bears fruit. Last, is when you have several students in a building that are being successful statewide, it brings pride to the school.”

Ramon Nino, Fort Worth North Side High School
Ramon Nino has been the Concert Band, Marching Band and Mariachi director at Fort Worth North Side High School for the last 12 years. He has led his students to numerous first division honors at the Texas State Solo and Ensemble competition. In Mariachi, the school has received the first division award the past three seasons, and 19 outstanding performer medals at the 2017 UIL State Mariachi Festival.

“Competition is a necessary component for all types of programs involved in UIL,” Nino said. “While winning may not be the ultimate goal of the program, instant feedback and adjudication allow the teachers to know where their students fall against a rubric designed to help improve all that enter. Competition will always be part of our basic educational mission, simply because it holds us all accountable in what we are doing every day and helps establish goals for us to reach.”

Chris Rector, Sabine Pass High School
Chris Rector has coached the UIL One-Act Play team at both Lampasas High School and Sabine Pass High School for a combined 15 years. He has taken teams to the state championship twice with one garnering state runner-up honors and a state best actor award. Rector’s One-Act play casts have been awarded over 140 individual awards. While at Lampasas, he led the Academic Team to a district title for the first time in over 20 years.

“One of the wonderous results of UIL Competition is its innate and indelible ability to impact a diverse range of students in a myriad of ways,” Rector said. “It is a privilege to witness the growth of students as they develop crucial lifelong skills. They understand the importance of dedication, hard work, leadership, adaptability and pride in the process. They learn that true success lies in what you gain in experiences and memories, and that those far outweigh the importance of the final outcome of the event.”

Noah Recker, La Vernia High School
Noah Recker has coached UIL Congress, Debate and Speech teams at La Vernia High School. He has led the speech team to two state championships and a state runner-up finish. He also guided his students to 51 individual state championships. Recker has served on the UIL advisory committees for congress and debate.

“I have found that most students are by nature very competitive,” said Recker. “In this regard, competition is essential in the educational mission of any school. The nature of how we frame competition is important. State championships are certainly exciting but I appreciate the small successes of students in a competitive atmosphere. We as educators need to embrace our role as teachers first. We must utilize competition to empower students to become independent thinkers and researchers.”

Annette Walter, Friendswood High School
A 14-year coaching veteran, Annette Walker has sponsored the UIL Computer Science team at Friendswood High School. She has led teams to four state titles, two runner-up finishes and three students have won individual titles. The computer science team has won the district championship in all 14 years Walter has been coaching.

“Competition is an extremely important element of a school’s basic educational mission because it promotes 21st century skills, which prepare today’s students to be successful in life,” Walter said. “They learn the value of teamwork, collaboration, communication and critical thinking when competing with peers. Team members work together for a common goal through discipline, hard work and dedication.”

While everyone on this list is "great," my vote goes to Jerry Burkhart of Rankin! :)