The man hired in April to turn the fortunes of Galveston ISD athletics says things are already off to a promising start with a welcoming community and solid numbers in summer activities.
“Right now, we’re having large numbers for strength and conditioning in the mornings,” Galveston ISD athletic director Walter Fortune said. “We have two segments coming through, with our older kids first and our younger kids second. Large turnouts, and our coaches are in there pushing them and helping them get better with their technique, motivating them. It’s just been fun to watch.
“We’ve got a great bunch of coaches and great kids,” Fortune added. “Everybody has been so friendly.”
Fortune, who brings 30 years of coaching experience from various stops in the state of Texas, was selected by the Galveston ISD board of trustees as the district’s new athletic director in a shakeup that stripped the AD title from head football coach Kimble Anders and the assistant AD title from head boys basketball coach Jerald Temple.
Anders and Temple are set to return as the head coaches of their respective sports, as are all the current head coaches aside from the boys soccer and girls soccer head coaches, Fortune said.
Finding new head soccer coaches is far from the only personnel move on Fortune’s plate, though. Among other positions, Fortune is seeking a defensive coordinator for the football team, and recently hired 2008 Ball High alum and former Sam Houston State player Richard Sincere as offensive coordinator.
“We’re going to look for quality, high character, high class people who are going to be great teachers,” Fortune said. “My philosophy has always been that if you’re a great teacher, then you can also be a great coach. It’s all about setting your plan, putting your plan into action, your delivery and just finding ways to motivate kids. Those are the types of coaches I’m looking for.”
Lack of participation in athletics has become an issue in Galveston ISD, resulting in struggles in sub-varsity and junior high sports. Fortune hopes focusing on Galveston ISD’s rich history and giving the coaches the tools for success will help get the numbers up.
“Like I’ve told the coaches when we’ve had our head coaches meetings, my leadership style is as a servant-leader,” Fortune said. “Whatever I can do to help them to be better, whether it’s professional growth or advice, because if they’re getting better, they’re doing the things that are going to help our kids and our athletes to be better.
“One of our biggest goals is I want to see our numbers increase,” Fortune added. “Whenever we have increased numbers, there’s always a chance to develop more athletes. And, when you have more athletes, you create more depth, and when you create more depth, you create more competition for positions, and when you create competition … it’s going to make us better.”
The athletics department is also making a strong push for all interested athletes to get their physicals on file, so they can participate in practices and is imploring them to start getting prepared for the grind that the upcoming sports seasons will bring.
“Don’t have any regrets, go out and give it a shot,” Fortune said. “If it works out, then you have something going for you. If it doesn’t work out, then you can never say, ‘I wish I could’ve.’”
A new project Fortune plans to add to Galveston ISD is the formation of a student-athlete advisory council, featuring two representatives from each sport who will get a course in leadership development and will reach out to the Galveston community to participate in service projects.
“They are going to be Galveston Ball ambassadors and just learn how to become a leader,” Fortune said. “There will be standards — they’ll have to maintain their grades and will have to put in the time. And, when it’s all said and done, I’m hoping to give each sport ownership and a voice.”
One definite positive is Fortune is inheriting an athletics program that has the support of the community, as demonstrated in a recent bond measure that has, among other things, allowed the school district to build a turf football practice field and place turf on the baseball and softball fields.
Bottom line, Fortune’s vision for his athletics department is simple.
“Ultimately, my goal as athletic director is for Galveston ISD to have the best athletics program in the state of Texas,” Fortune said.