My words to describe a “saint” include reverent, virtuous, kind, patient and perseverance. Santa Fe lost a saint on Dec. 17 with the passing of Coach Dan Kubacak. He was my all-time favorite coach. I never saw him angry, rude, out of control or unfriendly. He always showed respect to his players, students, colleagues and even referees.
Coach grew up in Houston and graduated from Sam Houston High School on the north side. After high school, he enlisted with Uncle Sam and proudly served in the Korean War. After the war he attended and graduated from the University of Houston in 1957.
That summer he interviewed for two coaching jobs. One at Friendswood and the other at Santa Fe. Santa Fe Superintendent L.W. “Casey” Hughes hired Coach Dan on the spot as a teacher, coach and bus driver. He never worked for another public school district. It’s rare for a coach to persevere that long in one school district.
Coach Dan was an exception.
From 1957 to 1972, Coach Dan commuted daily from Houston to Santa Fe and during this time he and his wife of 65 years, Rosalie, began raising four girls. You might know a coach would have all girls.
As our eighth-grade football, basketball and track coach, he taught life lessons and skills that are still with me today. In 1965-66 Coach Dan told us on the first day of basketball practice that we would win more than one game. Sadly, the year before we had only won one game versus Hitchcock, 23 to 19. After practice that day I went to coach’s office and reminded him of our previous year’s record of 1 and 9.
He told me, “Evans, we are going to win more games than we will lose this year.”
We finished the season with 10 wins and nine losses.
Coach was spot on.
I never showed Coach Dan any disrespect. But on the last day of school in May 1966, as we were leaving campus one of my classmates shouted “Diaper Dan” at him. Coach just smiled and waved. On the first day of school in 1966-67, Coach Dan came to the high school with paddle in hand. My classmate respectfully took his punishment. Coach always persevered.
In 1972, Coach Dan was named principal of his school and he moved the family to Santa Fe and never left. Upon retirement, he served seven years as principal of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School. Also after retirement the Santa Fe Independent School District Board of Trustees named the Kubacak Elementary School after Coach Dan. He was so appreciative and thankful to the district for their gesture.
The last time I saw him was in August. He was bedridden after suffering a stroke two years before. I’m not sure he remembered me; but I do know that he smiled and his eyes lit up every time I called him “Coach” during that last visit.
The Santa Fe community will miss coach Dan Kubacak. He was a saint and I respected him.