It was a bit of an up-and-down 2018-19 school year for Texas City ISD athletics, but the future looks bright, athletic director Leland Surovik said.
One factor giving Surovik optimism is that more than 200 athletes participated in the first week of the athletic department’s summer strength and conditioning program, which is the first time participation in the program has eclipsed the 200 mark in Surovik’s seven years as athletic director, he said.
“That’s part of growing a program, in and of itself,” Surovik said. “The more kids that get involved and do the summer strength and conditioning, the more athletic they’re going to be and the more physical they’re going to be. The more kids we get involved, the better competition we’re going to have for a position. So, we’re excited about that; that’s a great start to summer. We just have to continue it through the summer.”
This past school year, the boys basketball programs at Texas City and La Marque had high quality seasons, with the Stings one close loss away from a trip to the regional tournament. But, the football programs — typically among the best in the Houston area more often than not — at Texas City and La Marque experienced down years in 2018.
The Stings’ football team went 2-8 and won their last game of the season against rival Ball High to avoid a winless District 10-5A-I campaign. The Cougars struggled to an 0-6 start to the season but were 3-2 in a much more forgiving district than Texas City’s to keep a long streak of reaching the postseason intact.
“When you come off of a down year, the coach as well as the kids know — whether they want to admit it or not — what the problems were going through the season,” Surovik said. “There are some games where you’re going to be out-matched and out-manned, but in every game, there’s something you could have done better. So, when you have a down year, you always can reflect on the year and push the kids to where they don’t want to have that year again.”
Texas City’s softball team reached the playoffs once again, while La Marque girls track and field boasted a state champion for the second straight year. Other programs in Texas City and La Marque were competitive but did not reach the postseason.
Texas City will welcome a pair of new head coaches for the 2019-20 school year, as Stings assistant coach Kyle Gottardy was promoted to lead the baseball team, and Glenn Kennedy comes over from Liberty to take over the volleyball program.
“You want somebody that’s going to have passion, a burning desire to coach the youth and love what they’re doing,” Surovik said about what he looks for in hiring new coaches. “There’s no dollar figure that can equate to the amount of time that a coach puts in that he deserves for that sport. You want them to be dedicated. You want them to be there for the kids.”
Ever since Texas City ISD absorbed La Marque ISD two years ago, improving the La Marque schools’ facilities — including athletics facilities, most notably Etheredge Stadium — has been a goal of the district.
“Me and the maintenance director are constantly meeting on what we need to do and how we need to improve it, and we do what we can with the money we have,” Surovik said. “Hopefully, we’ll take care of it, and either build a new stadium over there or, little by little, we’ll fix it up.”
Overall, discipline, treating everyone fairly and showing mutual respect are areas of strength in the Texas City ISD athletic department, Surovik said.
Meanwhile, as technology advances and activities like playing video games and surfing the internet become more prevalent, maintaining interest and strong participation in sports is a challenge that Texas City ISD athletics and many other athletic departments face. But, it’s a challenge that can be solved, Surovik said.
“Times have changed, and you don’t see as many kids outside playing ball as you used to,” Surovik said. “The kids have to know that you genuinely care about them, and there’s got to be some excitement level around the program.”
Editor’s note: This article is part of a planned series on Galveston County’s athletics departments.