ON SPORTS: Long-time Sacred Heart coach honored by TAPPS
June 6, 2012 at 1:06 a.m.
HALLETTSVILLE - Pat Henke wants to put the rumors and speculation to rest.
He has no imminent plans to retire as Hallettsville Sacred Heart's athletic director and head football coach.
"I don't know what the good Lord has in store," Henke said. "But I hope to do it five or six more years at least."
Henke is 58, but he still loves his job as much as he did when he returned to his alma mater after graduating from Southwest Texas State as a teacher and coach in 1976, and when he became the head football coach in 1981.
"It's definitely still fun for me," Henke said. "I don't get excited during the summer like I used to, but once you get out there and start practicing with the kids that adrenaline gets going again and it's still fun. I still enjoy that part of it a bunch."
Henke appreciates working for school principal David Smolik and looks forward to coaching with assistants Rick Masek and Joe Cash. The three have combined for 104 years of football coaching experience.
"I think the biggest reason is this is where I grew up. This is my home," he said. "I went to school here and I never had a clue that I would stay here this long when I first took this job. Being a coach, you're usually moving everywhere. I had chances to go places, but I just had no desire to move anywhere."
Henke has made the most of his time at Sacred Heart. He has compiled a 264-114-1 record in football and led the Indians to eight state championships, including the 2011 TAPPS Division IV title.
His softball teams won nine state championships, the last coming in 2009, his final year to coach the sport.
"We've got great kids and a great administration," Henke said. "I think that's the biggest thing. Mr. Smolik has been here as long as I have. When you've got the support of the administration, it makes it a lot easier to stay where you're at."
Henke has coached every sport but baseball and volleyball, and his accomplishments have not gone unnoticed in the community or around the state.
Henke has been selected as the TAPPS Class 3A Coach of the Year for the 2011-2012 school year.
He was previously named the TAPPS Class 2A Coach of the Year in 1990, 2001 and 2003.
Henke will receive the Class 3A award Friday at the Omni Hotel in San Antonio. He will be accompanied by his wife, Gayle, daughter, Jennifer, who resides in Hallettsville, son, Jason, who coaches in the Hays school district, and Smolik, who nominated Henke for the award.
"I think he really enjoys the kids and he enjoys the small-town atmosphere," Smolik said. "He's just a special coach as far as making successful athletes out of kids who may not have the physical attributes. He teaches them values as far as faith and athletics. He teaches them to have respect for God, family and football."
Henke has noticed some changes during his coaching career, but still enjoys working with his players.
"The kids are the same," Henke said. "It takes just a little bit more to get them motivated than it used to. They still want to win, but sometimes their work ethic is not as good as it used to be. This year's bunch had a tremendous work ethic. They loved the game of football."
Sacred Heart won the 2011 state title with a record of 14-1.
The lone loss was a 14-12 setback against Shiner St. Paul during District 3 play. The teams met again in the state final with the Indians winning 21-7.
"All the years that was a possibility everybody talked about it," Henke said. "This year nobody talked about it. Nobody even mentioned it and this was the year that it happened.
"People make the comment that it would have been nice to be 15-0. I really believe that if we would have beat St. Paul the first time, we'd have gotten beaten in the second round of the playoffs. Colleyville Covenant was one heck of a football team.
"After we lost to St. Paul, Monday and Tuesday, I could see the hangover. We just dragged through practice. Then on Wednesday, we started picking it up. We went up to Bryan Brazos Christian, who had just beaten St. Paul by 23 points, and played our best game of the year and it just seemed like we just took off from there. We played well all through the playoffs. That loss probably was a blessing for us. It really woke us up. We practiced a lot better, and we played unbelievable."
Henke is already thinking about next season and how he will replace 13 seniors, including the 10 who started on offense.
Henke is expecting around 34 players next season and is hoping to be able to field a junior varsity squad for the 16th consecutive season.
Whoever shows up when practice begins in August will be taught the same lessons Henke has imparted since he came to Sacred Heart.
"You give them the respect and they're going to give you the respect," he said. "They're going to play as hard as they can for you."
Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361-580-6588 or email@example.com, or comment on this column at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.