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UIL Sponsor Excellence Award Winners

Media Contact: Kim Rogers
Phone: 512-471-5883
Fax: 512-471-6589

Date: Jan 16, 2009
Category: General Information


AUSTIN, TX—The University Interscholastic League is proud to recognize 15 of the top UIL sponsors in Texas as the 2008 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 18th 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 distinctive trophy 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 2008 are as follows:


Brenda Andrews, Hamilton High School

Brenda Andrews has been the UIL academic coordinator for Hamilton High School for the past 22 years. During her tenure, Hamilton has won or tied for the district academic championship nine times, and as many as 28 of her students have advanced to regional competition. Hamilton students have advanced to state competition in 18 of her 22 years on the job.

“I see UIL academic competition as a challenging quest for distinction in a myriad of academic areas for students who seek to do their personal best under pressure,” said Andrews. “Academic competition is part of a process that assesses the various mental skills contestants have attempted to perfect through endless hours of preparation.“


Jerry Cannon, Garden City High School

Garden City High School was a state academic champion in 2006 in large part to Jerry Cannon and his 34 years of coaching experience. His Calculator Applications, Computer Science, Number Sense and Mathematics students have won or placed at state over the past three years. Cannon won two other championships with Rule ISD from 1994-1998.

“UIL academics are a way to develop knowledge in a subject area, but also a way to develop speed and accuracy,” said Cannon.  “In the arena of competition, students tend to spend extra time learning a concept, but are also able to apply solutions to the problems with an increased amount of quickness and exactness. Academic excellence is developed by academic competition.”


Deborah Engler, Llano High School

Deborah Engler has led a number of her Llano students to state success in the seven years she has been a part of UIL competition. She twice paid her own way to attend the UIL Capital Conference to learn how to become a better coach. In 2007, her hard work paid off as her journalism team won state gold.

“Our school believes in T.E.A.M.: together everyone achieves more,” said Engler. “My UIL Academic teams strive to improve as they compete. Competition exists everywhere in the world. I just try to make my students comfortable as they learn the art of competition.”


Maria Adela Gutierrez, Hebbronville High School

Maria Adela Gutierrez has coached everything from debate to One-Act Play to journalism during her 34 years of teaching. Last year, she led her students to state in cross-examination debate and won top district team and top regional team in journalism. This year she assisted in the creation of a bi-monthly, student-run newspaper for Hebbronville High School.

“UIL competition better prepares students and greatly assists them in attaining a superior education,” said Gutierrez. “The lessons you learn from winning with humility as well as losing with dignity, knowing you gave it your best, will serve you for a lifetime.”


Jill Harryman, Groesbeck High School

For more than 25 years, Jill Harryman has served as coach, coordinator, contest manager, cheerleader and grader for UIL academic competition. She has coached 88 regional qualifiers, nine state qualifiers and one state champion during her tenure at Groesbeck High School.

“Mrs. Harryman’s philosophy is that UIL is a fantastic opportunity for students to realize their full potential academically,” said Groesbeck Principal Keri Thoele. “Nothing in her teaching career has been more satisfying than to see students who were not necessarily involved in anything else on our campus blossom in the UIL program.”


Kirk Lake, Wimberley High School

After 16 years of coaching athletics, Kirk Lake moved his coaching to the classroom where he has spent the last five years as a social studies and current events coach. Since turning his attention to academics, Wimberley High School has won numerous regional championships and twice been crowned state champions in social studies.

“We hope to provide a safe environment where personal growth and the development of positive character traits are maximized,” said Lake. “We are a very competitive and respected school with high academic standards, but we hope to make our school a place where individual achievement is not prioritized ahead of our student’s opportunity to grow as a person whatever ability level he or she possesses.”


Steve Lineweaver, Euless Trinity High School

Steve Lineweaver has coached a variety of sports during his 41 years of service, but his greatest triumphs have been on the football field. Lineweaver has won three football state championships – one at Commerce High School and two at Euless Trinity High School – and has appeared in several other title games.

“Each day there is a ‘lesson’ before going out to workout,” said Euless Trinity Principal Mike Harris. “It is here that the cohesiveness of the team is established. Our football players are expected to exemplify the desired character traits taught by Steve and his staff to the entire student body.”


Gerry Miller, Frisco Wakeland High School

Since opening its doors in 2006, Frisco Wakeland High School and Director of Bands Gerry Miller have opened their doors to students. In three years the band program has tripled in size and honors. In 2008, Miller sent 33 students to the UIL State Solo and Ensemble Contest.

“My vision is to inspire our students to perform and produce at their fullest potential,” said Miller. “The arduous process of rehearsing instills a value in students that is seldom taught elsewhere in the core curriculum: persistence in pursuit of perfection.”


Anne Marie Milligan, Santa Fe High School

Anne Marie Milligan has coached volleyball at Santa Fe High School for 32 years. Thirty-two players have received scholarships during her tenure with many of them receiving all-district, all-region and all-state honors. After Hurricane Ike, she rallied her volleyball teams to assist with clean up, meal distribution and in the relocation of a damaged elementary school.

“I strive to teach my players the concepts of truth, honesty and fair play as a code to live by and not just play by,” said Milligan. “I want them to be proud of who they are and what they stand for. In the words of Ed Abbey, ‘if you don’t stand for something, then you stand for nothing!’”


Sarah Morrison, Smyer High School

For 28 years Sarah Morrison has sponsored UIL debate and speaking events at Smyer High School. She sent a number of her students to state competition, and 100 percent of her speakers received scholarship money to attend college. She regularly serves as contest director for junior high or elementary events.

“UIL academics is all about life-long learning,” said Morrison. “The UIL academic events help provide a diversified education characterized by quality, equity, character and accountability. Competition allows a speaker or a debater to experience ideas and concepts and critical thinking creativity that he or she cannot find elsewhere.”


Lance Morse, Decatur High School

Lance Morse has sponsored UIL One-Act Play for the past seven years. His expertise in theatre has helped Decatur High School advance to area or state competition every year since 2005. Decatur won the state One-Act Play competition in 2006 with “The Elephant Man.”

“We strive to open students’ minds through experiences and successes; we work to ensure awareness of values learned, even in times of failure,” said Morse. “I know the value of competition because I see my students growing through the same opportunities that I am grateful for having been afforded by UIL.”


Christy Murphy, Crawford High School

For the past 18 years, Christy Murphy has served as Crawford High School’s UIL academic coordinator. Crawford has won the academic district championship in 16 of the past 17 years while fluctuating between 1A and 2A conferences. On average, 55 students compete each year in the district meet with an average of 19 moving on to regional competition.

“UIL academics have helped me to continue my life-long learning as I am constantly expanding my thinking with each student who teaches me as I try to teach him or her,” said Murphy. “The rewards are exceptional for all involved.”


John Owen, Rockport-Fulton High School

John Owen started at Rockport-Fulton High School in 2000 with a goal; take the computer science team to state. In eight years Owen has taken his team to state five times with four top-three finishes. Last year Rockport-Fulton reached its highest sweepstakes level ever, finishing NO. 7 overall in Region 4. In 2006, two of his computer science students were chosen to receive TILF scholarships.

“Competition and the results thereof are simply one way to measure the quality of education a student receives,” said Owen. “Personal improvement, achievement, and successfully performing under pressure are the paramount issues, whether or not one wins top honors. Our goal is to produce quality citizens who know how to set goals, strive to achieve them, and be able to perform under pressure.”


Thadious Polasek, Flatonia High School

Thadious Polasek has been involved in the UIL academic competition for more than 30 years, coaching writing events, debate and One-Act Play. Polasek has coached 13 of his cross-examination teams and several writers to the state meet. During his time at Flatonia, one of his students won the editorial writing championship.

“We prepare students to be life long learners who are capable of meeting the challenges of meeting well funded competition with limited resources,” said Polasek. “This develops a work, study and research ethic that will open the student for success in competing later in life at university study and international competition for work and business.”


Thomas Strickland, Weimar High School

As a UIL academic sponsor for 23 years, Thomas Strickland has reached the state academic meet many times. His literary criticism teams have finished in the top three the past five years, winning twice, and have added two individual champions. His influence has gone far beyond the classroom, as many of his students have become teachers themselves.

“The culmination of each high school career is the end of one short, meaningful journey and the beginning of a greater challenge,” said Strickland. “UIL academic competition prepares the student to face that future.”

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