HARLINGEN — Those Friday night lights are about to be upon us again, and local football coaches are ready.
“I’m in it to win, guys, and everything that I do is with a purpose,” said Manny Gomez, head football coach at Harlingen High School.
He and coaches from Harlingen High School South and Marine Military Academy spoke yesterday at the Harlingen Area Football Coaches Forum at the Harlingen Public Library.
The event was coordinated by the Rotary Club of Harlingen to sort of “kick off” the upcoming football season.
Joel Vincent, Rotary Club president, said Rotary has held the annual event for 15 years right before the new school year starts. Rio Hondo was invited to attend but did not do so.
The forum was amiable.
Gomez and newly-appointed principal Vivian Bauer have a four-pillar mantra for success at any endeavor.
“One is to persevere,” Gomez said. “You have to fight through hard times in order to eventually overcome. You’ve got to persevere and eventually that’s going to create character. Building character is the second pillar that we emphasize.”
Eventually, perseverance and the building of character endow people with hope, he said.
“We’re going to unite hope with having faith,” Gomez said. “That’s the mantra that we started. We brought that back. I want to empower kids. That’s the message, that’s the plan, that’s the formula that anybody can use in the game of life.”
Bauer, who previously served as principal at the Dr. Abraham P. Cano Freshman Academy, said she looks forward to the new school year.
“I feel really excited and I know that the Harlingen High School football team is going to do a great job,” she said. “I have every faith in Coach Gomez and his staff and so we’re ready to go. Cardinal spirit never dies, it’s fully alive and it just lights the community up. Everybody’s looking forward to Friday nights.”
Brian Ricci, head coach at Harlingen High School South, said, “We’re going to talk about a little bit of philosophy stuff, what our style of coaching is and talk a little bit about the upcoming year.”
Ricci visitors — who included Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio, City Commissioner Michael Mezmar, Harlingen School Board member Eladio Jaimez, who moderated the discussion, and School Board member Bobby Muniz — that he had a great group of kids this year.
“This summer we’ve had probably over 100 kids every day at our summer workout,” he said. “It’s probably double from what it normally is. We have a very solid, senior-heavy team. They understand what team is.”
Ricci said sometimes people don’t understand what it means to be a team player.
“You don’t meet your full potential because you have individuals playing at team sports,” he said. “I tell my kids all the time, if you want to meet your full potential you have to be a team player. If somebody asks you what position you play, you say, ‘wherever I can help the team.’”
Marine Military Academy has special challenges putting together a football team each year, said Coach Ric Medill. For one thing, students come and go very quickly. And they come from everywhere.
“We have kids from 27 states and from around the world,” he said. “We have kids from Russia, China, Japan, Vietnam.”
Then, jokingly, he added, “So as you can imagine I speak all those languages.”
Everyone laughed with him and then, all kidding aside, he continued.
“You’re more than welcome to come out and see us play,” he said. “The more of you the merrier because all my kids are from out of state and I don’t see too many parents. Feel free to come out and just cheer on some kids from Oregon and Washington and Mexico and Russia. I’m sure they would love to see you out there.”