SAN ANTONIO - The word “Family” is on the back of each football player’s jersey at Sam Houston High School, but the meaning goes far beyond the football field.
Family was placed on the jerseys last season, but Hurricanes head coach Melton Schultz said that mentality was implemented in the East Side school years ago and stands true to this day.
Schultz was named head coach over the summer, but has been at Sam Houston since 2005 and has seen his share of Hurricane victories. He said he loves the school and the community, but also understands the challenges his players and student body face daily.
“We pride ourselves on being a family because for a lot of them, we’re all they have and sometimes some of us coaches need them in our lives just as much as they need us,” Schultz said. “We have to be humbled sometimes because we’re professionals, but we sometimes forget the struggles that some of these young men and ladies go through each and every day.”
Schultz said the idea of being a family and having accountability for one another has been instilled in his players. “When one starts to stray, our kids do a really good job of pulling that kid back and getting that student refocused, whether its academics or athletics. Nobody lets a family member down,” Schultz said.
Juniors Joshua Harris and Garland Coleman are members of the Hurricanes family. They are not related by blood, but they say it doesn’t matter.
“We are all different from one another, but at the end of the day, blood couldn’t make us any closer,” Harris said. “The bond we have on this team is like no one else’s.”
Part of that bond extends to the coaching staff. Harris and Coleman acknowledge many of their teammates look to the coaches as father figures.
“They are like dads. They stay on us like dads. If we need rides to practice, they’ll take us to practice, take us home. Everything a dad does, basically,” Coleman said. “It means a lot because my dad really is not in my life so having one of these guys in my life helps out.”
“Some of us don’t have fathers so they are the best father figures that we have and they stay on us like they are our fathers so it’s a good bond,” Harris said. “We know at the end of the day, they are there for us.”
Schultz, a father of two girls, said many of the players and students come from good families, but he’s taken many phone calls from players in the early-morning hours who just need someone to talk to. Those calls have been because of domestic problems as well as violent crimes.
“You take those phone calls early in the morning because, like I said, I have two daughters, but I have a ton of sons,” Schultz said.
Schultz said he is not oblivious toward the violence that has plagued the East Side. He knows it’s a part of his players lives, but wants every Sam Houston student to know the school is a safe place where they can get support.
“Every morning, you wake up and you turn on the news and the hardest thing for myself, my staff, our faculty members and the administration is you’ll hear there was a shooting on the East Side, there was a young man arrested on the East Side and the first thing you worry about, is it one of our kids? When you grow attached to the kids we have here, those kids become your own.”
Schultz said that openness, honesty and positive reinforcement has resonated with the students and allowed them to gravitate to the staff.
“They understand what they mean to us and how sincere we are toward them,” Schultz said. “We care about their well-being and their opportunity to advance on to college and be productive members of society once they graduate.”
Schultz wants to make it clear, however, that the players or students cannot walk all over the staff.
“We don’t see the bad in the kids. We see the good. If one steps out of line, we’re going to treat them like they are one of our own and they may not like what they hear, but they know that we’re going to tell them or advise them the best opportunity or the best situation that they need to deal with and how to deal with it.”
As Sam Houston makes a push toward another district title this season, Schultz foresees the focus on family continuing because of the foundation that has been built over time.
He said even if they were to take “Family” off their jerseys, it would not change anything about the way things are done at Sam Houston and the commitment the coaches and staff have to the students and vice-versa.
“At the end of the day, family is all you got,” Schultz said. “We tell our kids this is what we want and what we expect and this is what you can expect from us because we are family. You’re here for us and we’ll always be here for you.”
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