THSADA Spotlight: Vivian Dancy
Galena Park ISD
Sports have always been a part of my life. Raised by my father and grandparents in Lake Charles, Louisiana, I was introduced to bouncing and catching a ball as soon as my motor skills developed, and playing games in my neighborhood was a staple throughout my childhood. The local high school was only a block away from my home, so attending sporting events was a common occurrence while growing up.
In high school, I played both basketball and tennis. However, in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, Grambling College only offered scholarships for women in tennis. So I made the decision to give up basketball to play tennis at Grambling for three years until two knee surgeries sidelined me during my senior year. Upon graduating, I returned to my hometown area to coach basketball and softball at Sulphur High School (Sulphur, Louisiana).
Once there, I rolled up my sleeves and started the process of learning what it took to be a good coach. I was a sponge in those early years trying to soak up as much knowledge as possible. Throughout my 12 years in Sulphur, I heard many stories and remarks about the strong athletic programs in Texas which included better salaries and great athletes, so in the late 1980’s, I packed my belongings and headed to Texas where I only knew four people. I was determined to find a coaching job in the Houston area where I could make an impact on young people.
Not long after arriving, I began questioning myself whether I had made the right decisions. It was tough finding a coaching Job in Texas. I sent resumes and interviewed for at least a dozen schools, but I did not get any offers. To make ends meet that first year, I managed a yogurt shop on the east side of Houston which was opened by two of the four people I knew at the time. This yogurt shop just happened to be located across the street from North Shore High School, now the North Shore 9th Grade Center. One of my frequent customers was Dr. Shirley J. Neeley, the Galena Park ISO Superintendent at the time. She was always very talkative and wanted to know my story. When hearing of my dreams to make a difference in young people’s lives through coaching, she promised she’d call if there were future openings at North Shore. Her call didn’t come right away, but an offer from Houston ISO to coach basketball and track at Reagan High School did.
One year later in 1989, I received the promised call from Dr. Neeley’s office regarding an interview for a coaching position at North Shore High School. When the offer to be a part of the North Shore staff as the girls’ basketball coach was made, I couldn’t contain my excitement. That year, I led the team to their first-ever district championship and continued this winning tradition as coach for more than ten years. Eventually, the Galena Park ISO Athletic Director, Ed Warken, began assigning me campus administrative duties, and in 2000 he promoted me to the position of District Athletic Coordinator, where I oversaw both high schools and the four middle schools in the district. Once again, I found myself in a position where I had to roll up my sleeves and start in a new direction which eventually led me to the Athletic Director position I hold today.
After 33 years in one district, I have never looked back with regret. The foundation for all the good fortunes I have received was built with a great mentor (Ed Warken), a great community to work in (Galena Park ISD), and great people believing in me and having a strong faith. I now work for a superintendent, Dr. Angi Williams, whose motto is, “Excellence is the ONLY option, and excuses are not welcomed!” This resonates with me since it is something I strive for on a daily basis. Becoming a coach in Texas many years ago fulfilled one dream, but being an Athletic Director fulfills an even greater dream because now I help other young coaches make an impact on young people’s lives.