The THSADA is hosting a series of conversations with some of our retired members. The purpose of these interviews is to provide current athletic administrators with a sense of what their peers had to deal with in the past and to keep up with what some of our retired members are currently doing.
The third interview in this series is with former THSADA Hall of Honor and THSCA Hall of Honor recipient Bubba Fife. Bubba served as a successful Head Football Coach for many years at various schools districts and ended his professional career as an Assistant Director of Athletics in the Katy ISD.
1. When did you get into education, and can you detail your professional resume from start to finish.
I began my education career in 1964 in the Irving ISD at Crockett Jr. High as a teacher/coach.
2. When you first became an Athletic Administrator, what were some of the initial challenges that you faced?
During my ten years as Athletic Coordinator/Head Football Coach at Newman Smith High School in the Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD I was involved in the coordination of all men’s and women’s sports. When I became the Director of Athletics/Head Football Coach at Tuloso-Midway, I felt that I had gained some valuable experience in being the Athletic Coordinator at Newman Smith High School and working under Jim Arnold, Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD Director of Athletics. Going into Tuloso-Midway I was aware of some athletic issues that needed to be addressed. New athletic facilities were built when there had been no one to oversee and make construction suggestions. Examples were the size of weight room and a new track was built with the shot put and discus rings being placed where the competitors would put the shot and throw the discus directly onto the new football field. There were undulations on the football field that held water when it rained due to the drain basins being installed incorrectly. There had been a self-esteem problem with some of the male and female athletes, mainly due to the lack of leadership by some coaches in some sports. There were uniform issues in some sports that left athletes feeling inferior to competitors. With the help of the Tuloso-Midway administration, we were able address the facility issues as well as the uniform issues helping the self-esteem of both the athletes and coaches. Also with the help of the Tuloso-Midway ISD administration, coaches in all sports were continually given financial support to help in their professional growth.
3. How well-prepared were you for the job when you first became an Athletic Administrator?
I felt that I was basically and fundamentally prepared knowing that I would definitely need to grow professionally in all areas of being a Director of Athletics/Head Football Coach.
4. As you moved through your career as an Athletic Administrator, what were some of the more unique challenges you faced as the years moved on?
Making sure that all coaches care for their athletes as a Human Being (1st), a Student (2nd), and an Athlete (3rd) in that order. Making sure that all coaches realize the importance of continuing to grow professionally when the opportunity presents itself. Making sure that all coaches support and respect the sport, coaches, and athletes in all sports other than the sport/sports that he/she may coach. Making sure that all coaches monitor the academic progress of his/her athletes during in season and out of season. Making sure that all coaches realize there will be times he/she will be asked to work at track and field meets, cross-country meets and asked to work the clock and/or book at basketball games. Making sure that all coaches watch their appearance, watch their language, be an optimist, and be enthusiastic in his/her coaching. Making sure that all coaches are encouraged to be members of and support our coaching organizations.
5. What were some of the rewards you experienced as an Athletic Administrator?
2009–Greater Houston Football Coaches Association Distinguished Service Award
2009–Texas High School Athletic Directors Association Hall of Honor Inductee
2016–Gulf Coast Scholastic Track Coaches Association Hall of Honor Inductee
2017–USA Track and Field Appreciation Award
2018–Katy ISD Athletic Hall of Honor Inductee
2019—Texas High School Coaches Association Hall of Honor Inductee
6. Did you have any mentors who you communicated with once you became an Athletic Administrator?
Jim Arnold (Former Director of Athletics in Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD), Jack Rhodes (Former Director of Athletics in Katy ISD), Bill Bundy (Former Director of Athletics in Katy ISD), Rusty Dowling (Former Director of Athletics in Katy SD),
Buddy Hopson (Former Director of Athletics in Fort Bend ISD), Benny Carter (Former Director of Athletics in Humble ISD), Keith Kilgore (Former Director of Athletics in Fort Bend ISD), Ronnie Bell (Former Director of Athletics in Alief ISD),
Troy Kite (Current Director of Athletics in Humble ISD), Debbie Decker (Former Assistant Director of Athletics and Current Director of Athletics in Katy ISD)
7. From the outside looking in, what do you feel are some of the biggest challenges that face Athletic Administrators today?
Shortage of teacher/coaches due to many deciding to either get out of or not enter the teaching profession, social media, student athletes from broken homes, more support and respect by coaches for the Texas High School Coaches Association, the Texas High
School Athletic Directors Association and the UIL in their efforts to make the coaching profession better.