Athletics News

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Spring Changes in the Athletic Department

By Cliff Odenwald | Friday, May 15, 2009 12:58 PM

The first three months as Director of Athletics of the UIL have gone by quickly. The pace has been incredible. It seems just like yesterday that I was changing offices and preparing for the challenges that lay ahead.

With the promotion of Dr. Mark Cousins to Director of Policy and Rachel Seewald moving to Indianapolis, Indiana, the first priority was to hire two assistant athletic directors.

I knew it was going to be hard to replace the knowledge and experience of Rachel and Mark. Both of them were great leaders in the athletic department and were respected by all of the superintendents, principals and coaches in the state.

After going through a strong pool of applicants and an extensive interview process, Sheila Henderson and Traci Neely were named the new UIL assistant athletic directors.

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Henderson Joins Athletic Staff

By Stephanie Ramirez | Wednesday, April 15, 2009 1:13 PM

The University Interscholastic League’s ebsite says that its purpose “aims to provide healthy, character building, educational activities carried out under rules providing for good sportsmanship and fair play for all participants.” 

Sheila Henderson, the newest assistant athletic director for the UIL, says her philosophy for her work goes hand in hand with this goal.

A native Texan, Henderson received her Bachelor of Science in Education from the University of Texas at Austin, which she has used throughout her career in the Austin area. After a year of working for Taylor ISD, Henderson moved to Austin’s Bowie High School in 1988 where she remained until 2002 when she became the assistant athletic director for Austin ISD.

In February 2009, Henderson made another career change and joined the UIL staff where she is now in charge of girls’ basketball, softball, and co-coordinating track and field with Traci Neeley, a former Round Rock ISD assistant athletic director and now fellow assistant athletic director for the League.

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Neely Leaves Round Rock ISD for UIL

By Stephanie Ramirez | Wednesday, April 15, 2009 1:12 PM

Whether it was the cold in Kansas or the appeal she saw in Texas the first time she was here for undergraduate studies that would later bring her back to Austin in 1996, the University Interscholastic League benefited either way as Traci Neely was named one of the new assistant athletic directors.

After graduating from Abilene Christian University, Neely went to work at Arlington Martin High School where she coached and taught from 1987 to 1994. When she decided to return to her home state and attend the University of Kansas for her Master’s in Sports Administration, it did not take her long to realize she wanted to return to Texas.

“I got back as fast I possibly could,” Neely said.

After her return to Texas, Neely took a job with Round Rock McNeil High School as the assistant campus coordinator and the girls’ cross country head coach and the track and field head coach. In 2004 she became the Assistant Athletic Director for Round Rock ISD where she worked for almost five years.

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Odenwald Named Athletic Director

By Jeanne Acton | Tuesday, February 17, 2009 11:58 AM

While Cliff Odenwald is a relative newcomer to the UIL staff, the newly appointed athletic director certainly is not a newcomer to athletic administration and working with the UIL. For more than 14 years, Odenwald served as an athletic director and coordinator for some of the largest athletic programs in the state.


From 2003-2007, Odenwald was the director of athletics for Plano Independent School District where he was responsible for scheduling and overseeing 460 athletic teams and supervising 250 teachers, coaches and trainers. Prior to that, Odenwald was the assistant athletic director for Garland ISD for 10 years. He also coached high school and college athletics for more than 15 years.


Odenwald joined the League in 2007 as the associate athletic director in charge of the mandated steroid testing program.

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Seewald Resigns as Athletic Coordinator

By Chris Schmidt | Thursday, February 05, 2009 12:04 PM

Rachel Seewald, athletic coordinator of the University Interscholastic League, resigned Jan. 30 after more than 16 years of service with the organization.

Seewald began working at the UIL as an office assistant only four months after graduating from the University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She was promoted to director of public information one year later.

“As a young college graduate they trusted me and weren’t afraid to challenge me with added responsibilities,” Seewald said. “They never wavered in their faith of my abilities.”

In 1997, Seewald earned her master’s degree in education from UT, and two years later she became the athletic coordinator for volleyball, girl’s basketball and track and field.

During her tenure, volleyball went through possibly the most significant changes of any other sport with the switch to rally scoring and the change of venue for the state tournament, moving from Austin to San Marcos. She believes these changes to be her greatest accomplishments while at the UIL, and those who worked with her give her great credit for making these transitions as smooth as possible.

“Rachel will be greatly missed by all of us,” Dr. Charles Breithaupt, UIL executive director, said. “She is well respected across the state by coaches and officials and will be very difficult to replace.”

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Coaches and Others Must Complete Safety Training Program

By Cliff Odenwald | Wednesday, January 21, 2009 12:17 PM

In the November edition of the UIL Leaguer, Dr. Mark Cousins submitted a list of “things to do.” One of the items on his list was a reminder to complete the safety training required by Senate Bill 82.

The Senate enacted this bill to ensure that coaches, trainers, sponsors, band directors and students were prepared to recognize and handle emergency situations. It requires that students be taught to recognize the symptoms of catastrophic injuries. Another requirement of the bill is that students are educated about the risks of using certain dietary supplements designed to enhance athletic performance. This is not a complete list of the mandates. Please refer to the complete list described under “Safety Training Program” on the UIL Web site’s home page.

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Time to Review Your List of ‘Things to Do’

By Mark Cousins | Friday, November 07, 2008 11:08 AM

It is hard to believe that November is already here and our first state champions for the 2008-2009 will be crowned this month.

As we edge closer to the end of 2008 and look forward to 2009, it is a good time to check and make sure you have done the things you need to do and get ready for things to come.

COPE (Coaches and Officials Positive Expectations)

The UIL Legislative Council requires all coaches to annually complete the COPE program. As of May 2008, the COPE program is available only via the UIL Web site. If you have not completed your COPE registration for this year, you need to take care of it as soon as possible.

So far, more than 30,000 coaches and officials in grades 7-12 have completed COPE registration for this year. But we know many more have not taken the time to be in compliance with UIL rules as of yet. Should a coach be ejected from a contest and be found not current in their COPE registration, the coach will receive a minimum one game suspension on top of the automatic penalty of reprimand and probation.

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After Ike, High Island HS Finds Its Way Home Again

By Charles Breithaupt | Friday, November 07, 2008 7:58 AM

Thomas Hardy once wrote, “You can never go home again.” He was right of course, but he never knew the people in High Island.

High Island is a small southeast Texas coastal town along the Gulf Coast. Ravaged by hurricane they had little hope they would ever be able to return, yet miraculously many did.

Head Football Coach and Athletic Director at High Island High School Paul Colton had evacuated from his own home as Hurricane Ike barreled toward the Texas coast. Having already cancelled one game because of the evacuations, Coach Colton was concerned that the damages to the tiny Conference A school, nestled on the gulf coast, could cost his team the season.

He, like many others in High Island, awaited news regarding the rest of the season. Most importantly he awaited information regarding the fate of the school and the homes of many players who lived in the coastal communities along Bolivar Peninsula.

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Two Staffers Win Awards

By Jeanne Acton | Monday, October 13, 2008 12:18 PM

Two UIL staff members received very prestigious awards in conjunction with the 2008 Coaching School in San Antonio this past summer. Both Cliff Odenwald and Dr. Mark Cousins of the UIL athletic staff were recognized at the Texas High School Athletic Directors Association Hall of Honor Banquet for their outstanding service to high school athletics in Texas.

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