Skip to main content
University of Texas at Austin
University Interscholastic League Logo
University Interscholastic League Logo

2006 UIL Sponsor Excellence Award Winners

Media Contact: Kim Rogers
Phone: 512-471-5883

Date: Jan 22, 2007
Category: General Information


AUSTIN, TX-The University Interscholastic League is proud to recognize 15 of the top UIL sponsors in Texas as the 2006 UIL Sponsor Excellence Award winners.

The winners were selected by a panel of judges in the areas of music, athletics, and academics from nominations submitted by school principals and superintendents across the state.

The award, now in its 16th 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 educational system.

“The benefits of interscholastic competition and student performance are only possible through the hard work and dedication of sponsors, coaches, and directors like these,” said UIL Director Dr. Bill Farney. “On behalf of the UIL, I commend these outstanding educators.”

Each winner will receive $1,000 and a symbolic keepsake from the UIL in recognition of their outstanding achievements in the pursuit of educational excellence through interscholastic competition. The University Interscholastic 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 2006 are as follows:

Daniel Aleman, Pearsall High School
Daniel Aleman has been band director at Pearsall High School for 33 years. Throughout Aleman's tenure, his bands have received over 30 sweepstakes awards and appeared in the UIL State Marching Contest Finals twelve times, including winning the 3A state championship. He has had numerous students qualify to the All State Band, and several former students have followed in his footsteps to become band directors themselves.

“I believe music is a discipline in the strictest meaning of the word,” said Aleman. “The student must accumulate many skills and then must learn to be sensitive to how they should be applied.”

Diane Cornwell, Austin Bowie High School
For the last 28 years, Diane Cornwell has been involved with UIL One-Act Play in Austin ISD. She has directed at 3 different schools, hosted 17 district and 8 area contests, served as a stage manager at the state contest 4 times, and has presented numerous workshops at UIL Student Activities Conferences. While at Bowie High School her companies have won ten district championships, received numerous awards and many have continued their education in theatre at the collegiate and professional levels.

“The restrictions that UIL places upon the performance actually help to promote the creation of very important life-long skills: meeting deadlines, developing organizational skills, assuming responsibilities, etc… the list goes on and on,” she said. “It has created a great training ground for our younger students and has helped us provide this opportunity to a greater number of students.”

Shawn Duthie, Holliday High School
Shawn Duthie has sponsored UIL speaking events and directed junior high and high school One-Act Play for the last 5 years. During his tenure, Duthie has had 11 students win individual state championships in speech and debate events and produced three state champion speech teams.

“Success is something which I encourage every student to strive for, but it is not measured in terms of trophies, medals, or applause,” he said. “True success is measured in the moment when a coach or director can look at his company with pride in the knowledge that they truly fell in love with the subject we chose to share with them.”

Joey Florence, Denton Ryan High School
Florence has coached football for 18 years, including seven at Denton Ryan High School. Over the years, his players have received 30 college scholarships, and this past year 40 of the 52 varsity players made the A, B honor roll. Along with winning two state football championships and reaching the finals twice more, Florence has received many accolades, including being named “Coach of the Year” by the Texas High School Coaches Association and Reebok.

“Competing by the rules and by the intent of the rules can teach a young man or lady many valuable lessons with regards to character,” said Florence. “It is my belief that competition in our public schools is paramount to building the character needed for our students.”

Sherran Geistmann, Ballinger High School
Sherran Geistmann has been involved in UIL academic competition for twenty years, coaching speaking events, debate, and One-Act Play. Geistmann has coached many state qualifying students in public speaking, taken 13 cross examination debate teams to the state tournament, and her One-Act Play company has advanced to regional once. During Geistmann's time at Ballinger, five students have been individual state champions in various academic events.

“Many of my speakers, debaters, and one-act play students tell me that their college experience was made easier because of their competitions and experiences with these events,” Geistmann said. “UIL is an extension of the classroom and should be encouraged in all schools.”

Tammy Guidry, Silsbee High School
Tammy Guidry has sponsored number sense, mathematics and calculator applications teams for 19 years, 14 of which at the junior high level. Guidry has had 18 students compete in the UIL Academic State Meet, including a second place finish for both the calculator applications and number sense teams. Under her guidance, Silsbee High School won the academic district meet for the first time in 2006.

“Many students find that UIL academics provide them with challenges not otherwise available,” she said. “To compete successfully, they must stretch themselves intellectually, facing challenges from their peers and beyond.

Susie Hejl, Abbott High School
Since 1980, Susie Hejl has acted as UIL Academic Coordinator at Abbott High School, coaching accounting and various events as needed at the junior high and high school level. Under Hejl's direction, Abbott High School has won 11 district academic championships and had 33 students advance to the UIL Academic State Meet, five of which were named champions in their respective events. In her 13 years as accounting coach, Hejl helped 8 students advance to state competition and produced 2 champions.

“I believe in UIL and its goals; I know that the structured competition and the opportunities it presents help students maximize their potential and become the best they can be,” she said.  “My hope is that the students with whom I have worked will as adults continue the UIL tradition in schools throughout the state and actively encourage future generations to participate in its essential programs in academics, one act play, and athletics.”

Scotty Johnson, Katy Seven Lakes High School
For 25 years, Scotty Johnson has been involved with UIL academics by acting as sponsor for 13 different events. Among his accomplishments, Johnson has coached six state championship teams in computer science at 3 different schools. His teams have won district and regional competitions in spelling, number sense, calculator applications, current issues and events, mathematics, social studies and journalism.

“I want the kids to be excited about learning,” Johnson said. “There is no better way of accomplishing this in my eyes that getting them involved in academic extra-curricular activities.”

Karin Keeney, Lewisville Hebron High School
Karin Keeney has coached volleyball for 19 years. Her teams have won numerous district titles, advanced to area and state competitions, and won one state volleyball championship. Keeney has had 12 players named to the Academic All-State team, 11 athletes receive collegiate scholarships and has been named “Coach of the Year” by many publications.

“Anything that I do as a coach is one hundred percent effort and I expect the same attitude from my staff and athletes,” said Keeney. “Passion, drive, desire and high expectations of themselves and their teammates make my teams more successful on the court, in the classroom, and in life.”

Helen Lewis, Keller High School
For 21 years, Helen Lewis has been involved with UIL at Keller High School serving as Academic Coordinator and One-Act Play sponsor. Her theatre students have won 15 district titles, five area competitions and have advanced to state three times. Along with district academic meets, Lewis has hosted One-Act Play clinics and both zone and district competitions for the last 10 years.

“This overall atmosphere of dedication, hard work, desire to achieve individual and team bests, and camaraderie will lead a team to a competitive advantage,” she said. “I believe that the most important quality of competition is to imbue the students to achieve their maximum potential in events they learn to love and respect.”

D'Nan Mathis, Lubbock Cooper High School
In her 34 years of service, D'Nan Mathis has coached numerous UIL events at the junior high and high school level along with serving as Academic Coordinator for five years. Her students have received district recognition in UIL journalism, poetry and prose and oral reading, along with her One-Act Play company advancing to state competition once. While she was Academic Coordinator, Cooper High School advanced 18 students to regional competition and three to the UIL Academic State Meet. 

“With the vast number of academic contests, educators can encourage students to excel in a variety of areas,” Mathis said. “Admittedly, achieving success in UIL competition requires a higher degree of dedication and certainly more work; nevertheless, watching the excitement and sharing the feeling of success is one of the most rewarding experiences of education.”

Sue Jane Mayes, Gail Borden County High School
Sue Jane Mayes has been involved with UIL Academics for 27 years coaching debate, journalism, spelling and vocabulary, current issues and events, ready writing and social studies. During Mayes' tenure, 53 individuals have advanced to the UIL Academic State Meet, including eleven state champions. She has also coached two UIL speech and debate team state champions.

“Some success can be attributed to hard work, some to luck, some to timing,” said Mayes. “However, the consistent factors year-in and year-out remain what we all do: we, as in fellow teachers who share the load and encourage competitive spirit; we, as in administrators and school boards who “get it”; and we, as in students who pursue and enjoy competitive learning.”

Scott Taylor, Richardson High School
For 37 years, Scott Taylor has been involved with UIL band competitions, the last 29 of which he has been Director of Bands for Richardson ISD overseeing music and theatre programs on eleven campuses. In competition, Taylor's bands have received 34 sweepstakes awards. He has served on the UIL sight reading selection committee, advisory committee and has been a member of numerous UIL and TMEA boards.

“Music education and UIL are synonymous in Texas,” Taylor said. “The UIL experience has allowed me to utilize competition as a tool to enhance student's musical, academic, and personal lives.”

Kay Whitton, Tuscola Jim Ned High School
During her 13 years sponsoring UIL events, Kay Whitton has coached accounting, spelling and vocabulary, literary criticism and social studies. She has had state qualifiers the last six years in accounting, the last three years in spelling and vocabulary and this past year she took three of the four teams she sponsored to state competition. In addition, Whitton's students have earned numerous TILF scholarships from the UIL.

“I love teenagers and I love to help them achieve their goals, sometimes goals they didn't even know they had until they started UIL,” she said. “I am grateful to the UIL for establishing a system of competition in our state that is changing lives, both those of students and teachers, and one that is second to none.”

J. Gary Wyatt, Wimberley High School
J. Gary Wyatt has been sponsor of UIL One-Act Play for 22 years, 18 of those at Wimberley High School. His students have appeared in eight state championship competitions under his direction, winning two championships, receiving runner-up twice and placing third two times. Wyatt is also the director of all theatre productions at Wimberley, and in 2001 was named High School Educator of the Year by the Texas Education Theatre Association.

“I believe competition is a necessary tool for the students' transition to the real world,” said Wyatt. “They must learn to handle both success and disappointment with style and grace.”


-- END --