New Yorktown ISD official brings patience to position (video)

Sonny Long

July 15, 2013 at 2:15 a.m.
Updated July 16, 2013 at 2:16 a.m.

Still unpacking a stack of boxes with personal items, the new Yorktown ISD Superintendent Alan Umholtz uncrates a Letterman Award plaque inscribed with Player/Student Coach and the  years that he played for TCU.

Still unpacking a stack of boxes with personal items, the new Yorktown ISD Superintendent Alan Umholtz uncrates a Letterman Award plaque inscribed with Player/Student Coach and the years that he played for TCU.   Frank Tilley for The Victoria Advocate

YORKTOWN - Alan Umholtz, Yorktown school district's new superintendent, likes his morning coffee early.

"I like to go where the people are drinking coffee in town at 6 a.m.," said the Texas Christian University graduate who began his new job less than a month ago. "Those are the people who will tell you what they think, and I welcome that. The great community has been very welcoming."

Umholtz, named the lone finalist to replace Deborah Kneese on May 29, comes to Yorktown from Overton, where he was superintendent for five years.

His professional stints include teaching and coaching in the Fort Worth school district one year and in Crowley for 10 years.

In between those jobs, he served as head of the physical education and science departments at All Saints Episcopal School in Fort Worth.

After leaving Crowley, he was curriculum director in Whitney for four years before becoming superintendent in Overton.

"I'm excited to be here," he said. "I like this size school district. There is a good history here of academics, athletics and other extracurricular activities.

"The potential is here."

Part of the attraction to Yorktown was the location.

He and his wife, Elizabeth, have come to Rockport for years to visit family, he said.

Umholtz remembers his days at TCU fondly.

"I got a great education there. I had wonderful professors."

He said small class size at the time was also a plus, but for the 1978 graduate of C.F. Brewer High School, his association with the Horned Frogs basketball team was unforgettable.

"My fondest memory? I had never been on an airplane before I went to TCU. I was 19.

"By the time I had left, I had been to 48 states."

Umholtz only missed out on going to Alaska and Hawaii because the TCU basketball coach - a fireball named Jim Killingsworth - had already played in tournaments in Alaska and Hawaii and wanted to concentrate his recruiting efforts from California to Florida, he said.

"I was a player/student manager, assistant coach. Whatever they needed," he said.

Playing in only three games his freshman year, Umholtz nonetheless remained close to the team and its coach.

"He kept me around. I'm not sure why," said Umholtz, who after graduation served as the university's assistant ticket manager for three years before going into teaching and coaching.

Another unforgettable moment at TCU for Umholtz came Jan. 26, 1982, when the Horned Frogs upset the University of Houston Phi Slamma Jamma squad.TCU won 85-82.

Houston featured future NBA Hall of Famers Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler.

"It was an exciting time," Umholtz said. "This was well before TCU was good in football, so basketball was king."

Houston would move on to the Final Four that season, losing to North Carolina in the semifinals. It lost in the finals the following year.

Umholtz said Killingsworth was a character to be around.

His team became known as the "Killer Frogs," a nickname given to them by area newspapers during the 1981 Southwest Conference tournament.

"He was something else," said the superintendent. "When I first got there, I could tell how mad he was at us by how many cigarettes he smoked at halftime," said Umholtz.

"When he quit smoking my senior year, it changed to how many times he'd put that nicotine gum in his mouth. He'd chew on us, but we'd give everything we had for him," he said.

Umholtz feels like coaching has helped prepare him to be a successful superintendent.

"I learned patience," he said. "You have to have patience working with young adults, with the kids."

When he was a coach, he did not get mad or flustered, he said. Instead, he would get yelled at by parents or fans.

"I'm thick skinned. I listen to people. I think that's one reason I moved into administration," he said.

And the move to Yorktown has Umholtz feeling he's in the right place.

"We love this location," he said. "And with a German last name, I'm right at home."



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