by Lateef Ipaye
Omega Delta Phi Fraternity, Inc. prides itself in its core value of leadership not only within the brotherhood but more importantly, in the community. Community leadership involves a group of people with common interests through purpose, vision, and core values.
Effective community leadership involves enhancing the capacity of the group one represents by equipping them with the knowledge, skills, and network to succeed. When it came to enhancing the opportunities for Hispanic football coaches in the state of Texas, four ODPhi brothers, along with others, stepped up to the plate by establishing the Hispanic Texas High School Football Coaches Association (HTXHSFBCA).
“The organization is intended to help guide, mentor and create opportunities to help coaches gain the knowledge and experience they need so that they are ready to be head coaches when their time comes, ” Isaac Rodriguez (Rho Chapter, Texas State University) said who currently serves as the Wide Receivers Coach at Hays High School.
The association’s core values focus heavily on accountability, respect, passion, professionalism, and servant leadership. Their vision is to build future Hispanic coaches by promoting the sport through innovation and inspiration.
The inspiration for creating the association stemmed from a conversation Ruben Garcia (Alpha Mu Chapter, Texas A&M Kingsville) had with another coach. Garcia is currently the Athletic Director and Head Football Coach at Falfurrias High School.
“Coach DJ Mann, who is a really good friend of mine, told me that he was part of a group for African American coaches and that I, Cesar Rosales, and Noel Garcia (Alpha Mu Chapter, Texas A&M Kingsville) should start one for Hispanic coaches,” Garcia said. “So I created a Groupme group and I reached out to Cirilo Ojeda (Pi Chapter, University of Houston) and a guy named Sergio Gonzalez and a coach named Mike Garcia.”
From there, Garcia, Ojeda, and others began adding more group members to the point Garcia described as “unimaginable heights.” Two years later, the organization has grown to over 700 active members.
“The numbers of qualified Hispanic coaches is on the rise and having an association to help network, mentor, and share information has become very necessary,” Ojeda said who currently serves as the Sharpstown High School Head Coach.
In 2018, the Bleacher Report ranked Texas as the top state that produces the largest concentration of elite college football players. With this in mind, landing a head coaching job in this state breeds not only a lot of competition but also opportunity challenges for some very qualified coaches.
According to a report, HTXHSFBCA’s president Armando Jacinto said he interviewed and was denied 24 times before landing a head coaching job at Austin Travis in 2009. Ojeda pointed to the lack of a strong network for minority head coaches and said that the association can serve as an effective solution.
“You can still get the job if you have great references and have produced the things they are looking for in their selection, but having a strong network will open doors for you. The association has provided a larger network for us all to connect, share resources and get information that may not always be available otherwise,” he said.
“Personally I’ve been on many interviews and the process has led me to my first Head Coaching job, but I couldn’t have done it unless there were resources to help me. I’ve been in rooms with as many as 25 people and have also been in 1 on 1 interviews. They are all different and everyone is looking for something unique. How you navigate the applications, what you wear to the interview, how you answer the questions, and what you have prepared are vital aspects of the process. The association helps us ask questions that many may be hesitant to ask and provides the help to be prepared before you even walk in the room.”
In addition, the global pandemic has put a lot of activities on pause where some individuals are without jobs. Pflugerville High School Defensive Tackle Coach Robbie Vega (Rho Chapter, Texas State University) said the pandemic has elevated the importance for the association to facilitate connections.
“This motivated more individuals to seek out that connect with other coaches around the state,” he explained. “The HTXHSFBCA made it evident, that in order to make an impact, people needed to unite and assist others with the same mind frame and backgrounds. During this pandemic, coaches were seeking guidance and bouncing ideas off of each other to better themselves and their programs.”
If you are interested in joining the Hispanic Texas High School Football Coaches Association, email firstname.lastname@example.org.