Gilbert Leal
Brownsville ISD Athletic Director

Since the first day I could remember, I have always been mesmerized towards competition.  I have always felt comfortable in team settings.  Playing different sports throughout the year has always been standard for me.  I was fortunate to have passionate coaches growing up.  Growing up trying to emulate my idols in different sports was my internal motivation.  Having the opportunity to compete year around in high school and continue in college placed me on my path to coaching.  While in college, my goal was not to follow education, yet my ambition has always been in athletics and competition.  In my opinion, there is no better feeling in the world than the first ten plays of a football game.  The chess game that plays out.  Preparing for success and the results that emerge of the unknown.

The biggest asset I have witnessed that benefitted my transition from coach to athletic director is the different sports and levels I spent coaching to climb the mountain.  I honestly draw from experiences I had as a 7th grade coach often.  Just six months before working with 7th graders I was leading my college team as quarterback.  In my perspective, I honestly thought I was ready to call a great game when I realized some of our boys had never played a down of football. Coaching prepared me for where I am today. Coach as many different sports as possible, including coaching boys and girls teams.  Having the knowledge to help all coaches, regardless of the sport, can be a huge asset in building a blueprint when assisting all your coaches.

I have always been fond of studying leadership and different leadership styles.  My father was a college president for forty years.  While talking at the dinner table, he always felt comfortable telling me about the dynamics of people and the challenges that come from working with different people. Being a part of so many programs and schools, I have had the privilege to see a variety of leadership styles at work.  The one “golden nugget” that I have always carried with me which was taught to me from my father, “Always treat every person with respect, regardless of their role or position.”  Every person in our organization serves as an important part.  The transition from district to district, as well as from coach to administrator, has always been a smooth adjustment.  My personality is always the same.  So, transitioning to becoming an Athletic Director was smooth because I did not have to change my leadership style or as a person.

Brownsville ISD is the largest school district in Region Seven with over 43,000 students.  Working with six high schools and ten middle schools can make daily operations a bit challenging.  Growing up as a young coach in the Rio Grande Valley, I always admired how the Athletic Directors always managed to lead and develop young coaches.  Joe Rodriguez was a pioneer in many ways.  I will always remember how he continually fought for all Rio Grande Valley schools when it came to regional tournaments as well as state representation.  The Rio Grande Valley has incredible athletic leadership.  One of the most rewarding aspects of leading a large metro school district is the amount of influence and direction that can be made on a daily basis.

One great aspect of coming to work at Brownsville ISD is working with the incredible coaches.  I can honestly attest that all of our coaches are competitors. Working with all the schools and sharing ways to deal with the everyday challenges of border life are extremely rewarding.  Everybody wants to be a champion. Since day one everyone that works in BISD knows that we may have six highly competitive high schools, but we are made up of one family.  We will always support each other on and off the field.

Coaching/Administrative Career

Harlingen CISD (Harlingen High School) – 12 years

Mercedes ISD (Mercedes High School) – 4 years

Harlingen CISD (Harlingen South High School) – 3 years

San Antonio ISD (Jefferson High School) – 1 year

Hidalgo ISD (Hidalgo High School) – 1 year

San Benito ISD (San Benito High School) – 4 years

Brownsville ISD – 2 years

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