From the University Interscholastic League
AUSTIN, Texas (News Release) - The University Interscholastic League is proud to recognize seven of the best UIL sponsors in Texas as the 2020 UIL Sponsor Excellence Award winners.
The winners were selected by a panel of judges in the areas of academics, athletics, and music from nominations submitted by school principals and superintendents across the state.
The award, now in its 30th year, was created to identify and recognize outstanding sponsors who enable students to develop and refine their extracurricular talents to the highest degree possible within the education system.
“Coaches and teachers have such a difficult job, and they go beyond the call of duty to serve as UIL sponsors, coaches, and directors,” said UIL Executive Director Dr. Charles Breithaupt. “UIL events function and thrive on the dedication and immense effort from sponsors like these. On behalf of the UIL, I commend these outstanding educators.”
Each winner will receive $1,000 and a symbolic memento from the UIL in recognition of their outstanding achievements in the pursuit of educational excellence through interscholastic competition. The League continually strives to strengthen and promote the role of extracurricular activities in Texas through programs like the UIL Sponsor Excellence Award.
The UIL Sponsor Excellence Award winners for 2020 are as follows:
Mandy Conner – Waco Connally High School
Mandy Conner has spent her last 25 years as a sponsor for UIL One-Act Play. She has led her school to 11 regional competitions, seven performances at the State Meet and one state runner-up finish. Conner has also sponsored Prose & Poetry, Film, and Theatrical Design. She has hosted the district One-Act Play contest seven times, been a presenter at the Texas Educational Theater Association four times, and has been a UIL Junior High OAP Clinician four times.
“Through One-Act Play competition, students learn how to conduct themselves with honesty and integrity,” Conner said. “These young actors and technicians develop a ‘team before self’ attitude, learn to make sacrifices, strive for excellence, persevere through obstacles and adversity, and compete with class.”
Nathaniel Council, Pampa High School
Throughout his 13 years as a UIL sponsor, Nathaniel Council has coached Accounting, Congress, Debate, One-Act Play, Speech, and Social Studies. The last 10 years, Council has been an academic coordinator for his school. He has led four individuals to state championships. Council is a member of the Speech and Debate Regional Advisory Committee, State Congress Tabulation staff, State Congress Advisory Committee, Hereford High School Band Booster Club, and West Texas Speech Association. He has presented at the UIL Student Activity Conference and the Texas Speech Communication Association Convention. Council has also been the Region 16 Congress clerk, a member of the UIL State Honor Crew, and an instructor at the Texas Tech UIL Speech and Debate camp.
“One of the greatest things about being an academic coach is watching students transition from high school competitors to mature adults with careers sparked by their involvement in UIL,” Council said. “It provides wonderful opportunities to ignite a student’s passion for learning while allowing them to find acceptance and build for a bright future.”
Jose Diaz, Houston MacArthur High School
Jose Diaz has been involved in UIL music activities at Houston MacArthur High School since 1986. During his career, he has led the school’s Marching Band, Symphonic Band, Concert Band, and Jazz Bands. Diaz has advanced his bands to the UIL Region Marching Contest, UIL Concert and Sightreading Contest, and UIL Solo and Ensemble Contest. His bands have received 25 years of consecutive First Division ratings at the UIL Regional and Area Marching Band Contests and was the only Aldine ISD band to receive Sweepstakes in the UIL Concert and Sightreading Contest. Diaz has also led numerous individuals to a First Division rating at the UIL Solo and Ensemble Contest.
“I teach my students that music is essential to who we are and that we all have to do our part to motivate each other, help each other, and celebrate each of our successes,” Diaz said. “My students develop a sense of philanthropy and an expectation that they have to do their part to help their community prosper.”
Charlene Dietrich, Corpus Christi Calallen High School
Charlene Dietrich has dedicated 47 years to teaching with the last 35 years as an UIL Sponsor. She has coached at Corpus Christi Carroll, Gregory-Portland, and the last 17 years have been at Corpus Christi Calallen High School. During her career, she has been a One-Act Play/Technical Director, as well as the district’s academic coordinator and speaking event director. Dietrich has also been a speech coach in all capacities, and a member of the Region 4 Advisory Committee. She has led her teams to numerous district and regional championships, including a state championship in Persuasive Speaking.
“When it is all ‘said and done’ at the end of the day, the end of the semester, at the end of the year, are my students better people because they were in my room,” Dietrich said. “Have my personal and professional goals for my students made their lives richer and fuller, and are they then able to go out and find success…if so, then my last 47 years have been worth it.”
Terry Morris, Orange Little Cypress-Mauriceville High School
Terry Morris has spent the last 11 years at Orange Little Cypress-Mauriceville High School as the school’s coach for Number Sense (2011-2017) and Computer Science (2013-current). He has directed the district Computer Science Meet and is a member of the UIL Computer Science Planning Committee. Morris has been a presenter at multiple STEM and academic conferences, and an instructor at numerous Capital Conference Workshops and Summer STEM Academy events. He has led his teams to 10 district championships, six regional championships, six state meet appearances, and two team state titles during his career. Morris has also advanced eight individuals to the State Meet.
“UIL Academics allows students to find their passion and test their abilities,” Morris said. “I introduce UIL materials in my classes every year to allow my students to show their skills and talents. UIL competition teams allow students an outlet, a sense of belonging, and a place to call home.”
Kimberly Sloan, Chireno High School
Kimberly Sloan has been coaching UIL Academics for Chrieno High School since 2000. She has focused on computer applications, journalism, and speech and debate. She has also coached or assisted with almost every academic event from elementary to high school within the district during her career, including One-Act Play. Sloan has been on the regional advisory committee and served as the district academic meet director for several years. She has led numerous individuals and teams to the State Meet with four individuals bringing home state titles.
“UIL competition demonstrates to students that there are more ways to learn and demonstrate that knowledge than the standardized tests that they are accustomed to being measured by,” Sloan said. “A school’s number one educational mission should be to prepare students for the future, and there is no better way to do this than through UIL competition. Students increase their academic knowledge to levels beyond the classroom and learn how to respond under pressure.”
Jeff Walker, Liberty Hill High School
Jeff Walker was the head football coach and athletic director for Liberty Hill High School from 2018-20. Coach Walker passed away in November of 2020 after a long battle with cancer. As an athletic director, he oversaw 15 sports. In his first year as head football coach, Walker guided his team to a state runner-up finish. The Liberty Hill boys basketball and girls soccer teams also advanced to the state title game that season. During the 2020-21 season, Liberty Hill stepped up from Conference 4A to Conference 5A, and numerous sports have qualified for the state playoffs.