“It has been a tough 18 months,” Humble ISD’s athletic director Troy Kite told the Rotarians of Lake Houston. Then he threw in the zinger.
“As I come to the end of my career here,” he said. The looks in the Rotarians’ eyes were all the same, “Say it isn’t so, Troy.”
Each fall, the Rotary Club of Lake Houston invites Kite, the five football coaches and a few of their players to assess the upcoming year. Kite brought Kenny Harrison of Summer Creek High, Craig Stump of Atascocita High, Clayton Maple of Kingwood Park High, Marcus Schulz of Humble High and Defensive Coordinator Stephen Byrd who subbed for Cale Melton of Kingwood High.
“After 18 months on Zoom, I am so happy to be here in person and so glad that the Rotarians invited us,” Kite said before he introduced the coaches. “Whatever we are faced with, sports transcend our frustrations.”
Kite compared Humble ISD’s athletic programs to extended families.
“I am so blessed to be a part of this. We talk a lot to our young men and women about discipline, character, accountability and about how to win and how to lose,” Kite said.
The coaches also focus on the importance of the role that each player performs.
“Someone is going to be the star, and someone is going to be on the third team,” Kite said, “and each role is important to the team. Athletics teaches our young men and women to be the best they can be in whatever role they play.”
Each coach spoke about what makes their team unique, giving the Lake Houston Rotarians a window into each coach’s style and philosophy.
“These guys lead the right way,” Summer Creek Coach Kenny Harrison said, pointing to the four young football players he brought with him.
“My players know my focus is on ‘taking care of the little things,’” Kingwood Park Coach Clayton Maple said. “When you see litter on our campus, you pick it up. When you are finished with your weights, you put them where they belong. When you put your clothes back in your locker, you put them away neatly.”
Kingwood Park’s players were excited to be face-to-face, “Finally, we weren’t team building on 75 different screens,” he said. “These guys get to practice early because they are so excited to be together again. They are working hard.”
While Kingwood High Coach Cale Melton couldn’t attend, his players emphasized the values they learned at their boot camp including “learning our chemistry, working together and slowly coming together,” one of the young athletes said.
Humble High Coach Marcus Schulz said, despite the Wildcats’ first game, his team is moving in the right direction, “We just need to get out of our way. Please, bear with us. We have lots of new and young players, and new coaches. Our goal is to gel.”
Veteran Atascocita High Coach Craig Stump — celebrating his 10th season — said he tells his team to never look back.
“It is not what you did but what you do,” he said, emphasizing that last week’s game may have been a good one, but the team must always look forward. Stump compared his “moving forward” philosophy to a squirrel running across the road.
“If the squirrel keeps running, he will make it,” Stump said, “but, if he stops in the middle of the road to look back, well, you know what happens. My philosophy is trying not to look back. Look forward.”
At the end of the coach presentations, answering a question about possible retirement, Kite said, “I am close. I am in my 34th year at Humble ISD. I started out as basketball coach at Humble High when there were just two schools, Humble and Kingwood, with 5,000 students at each school.”
Today, there are 1,340 young men playing football at Humble ISD’s high schools, and more than 7,000 young athletes in seventh through 12th grades, he said.
“I have been so blessed to be a part of this program, this growth,” he said. “It may be time for a younger person to take over.”
Bringing the annual football program to a close, Kite said the goal of the coaches after 18 tough months is to get the young men and women to block out COVID-19 and all the politics involved and instead use Humble ISD’s athletic program to “Teach our athletes how to be men and women. I promise you; these are the young men and women that you will want to hire.”