WOODSBORO – Current and previous Woodsboro Independent School District students, and Woodsboro community members, already know Coach Aaron Houston’s positive impact on people’s lives. Thanks to action taken by the WISD school board, Houston’s legacy will be known to future generations, too.
On June 15, the board voted unanimously to rename WISD’s Eagle Stadium in memory of Coach Houston, and also approved a requirement that the new name remain in place for at least 40 years.
One of Houston’s former students, Doug Greene, a 1998 Woodsboro High School graduate and an officer with the San Antonio Police Department, attended the board meeting to talk about Houston’s influence on his life and the lives of many other children who grew up in Woodsboro.
“He just had this gift — it’s hard to explain — of making you feel appreciated and cared about,” Greene said. “He was very passionate and had a unique gift of reminding you that you had a plan and a purpose. Some of us were from single-parent households and had a similar background. We could relate to Coach Houston.
“He didn’t take any excuses from us and expected us to give 100 percent. As he said, good isn’t good enough, he expected excellence. Sports was really just a tool he used to develop good character and to push us to always do our best.”
Greene, who was named SAPD’s Officer of the Year in 2017 and is a spokesman for the department, said it is Coach Houston who set him on the path to success. When Greene was recognized by the department, Houston was among those in attendance to support him nearly 20 years after Greene had graduated from WHS.
“That meant a lot to me because he played such a strong role in my life and in the lives of so many who were blessed to know him,” Greene said.
Greene first got to know Coach Houston when he was a 6-year-old looking to make an impression on the respected coach.
“He was known by all the kids in the community and we really looked up to him,” Greene said. “One of the main things I remember was that I always loved playing football and I looked forward to playing for the Woodsboro varsity team one day. When I was in elementary school, we would see Coach Houston walking by and we wanted to make sure he saw us playing football so he would know we would be playing for him in the future.
“We wanted to be around him. I had an older sister who is a Woodsboro High School graduate from the Class of 1991. Coach would take me, my sister and many other people out to eat and just talk to us about life. He really cared about us and of course, we loved him. He was also my Sunday school teacher, so he was such an important part of my life.”
Greene said he is still honoring Coach Houston today, talking about his positive approach to fellow officers in the San Antonio Police Department, and when he is interviewed by San Antonio TV stations or whenever he gets a chance to share the impact his mentor had on him.
“The opportunity to share his legacy lives on here in San Antonio,” Greene said. “It’s not just in Woodsboro. There are people all over who know about Coach Houston or they are finding out about him because of the strong role he played in our lives.
“I had no father in my house and so Coach Houston became a father to me. Whenever I was on the field, I played with as much heart and passion as I could. I wanted to make him proud of me. Whenever we lost a game, I was heartbroken, and he would come and encourage me. He helped me stay on the straight and narrow, to stay positive and challenged us to always live up to our potential.”
WISD Superintendent Janice Sykora said Houston’s legacy will remain strong.
“He really made a difference,” she said. “He touched a lot of lives and gave such great speeches to kids to motivate them to do their best. He was such a positive role model and he always put the kids first.
“He coached football and some other things, but track really was his niche. But he was so much more than a coach. He really did make a great difference in kids’ lives.”
Robbie Blaschke, the WISD school board president, was among the numerous WISD students who grew up admiring Coach Houston and enjoying his positive outlook.
“It was a tremendous honor for the school board to be able to name the stadium after Coach Houston,” Blaschke said. “God brought him to Woodsboro and there was no way Woodsboro could have ever replaced him. He instilled a lot of confidence in the kids and truly was a unique mentor. There will never be another Aaron Houston.”
Blaschke said he is not aware of any other stadium in Texas being named for an assistant coach. Although Houston was not a head coach or athletic director, he remained a part of the WISD coaching staff through multiple coaches and was always an important leader in athletics and in the community, Blaschke said.
“I loved the man,” he said. “He believed in me. I wasn’t gifted with a lot of athletic ability but when I was in junior high he helped me to believe in myself. He was always enthusiastic and encouraging. He was a God-fearing man and it was truly a blessing to have him in a leadership role in our school district.
“He just had this innate ability to grab people by the shoulders and encourage them, to let them know everything would be all right. It’s indescribable how he would pick people up and motivate them. We are definitely fortunate to have had him in Woodsboro all those years.”
Houston’s impact will continue indefinitely, Blaschke said.
“He was a father figure, and any time any kid needed something, Aaron Houston was there,” he said. “Kids would go by his house to talk and he would give them guidance on life. I get choked up talking about the man because he was such a great person.
“It will be nice to hear his name called out whenever we have a football game or athletic event at the stadium. He is a treasure in Woodsboro and his legacy is cemented in the community, Naming the stadium for him is a small token of our appreciation. We could never repay him for all he’s done for the people of Woodsboro.”
Jeff Osborne is the editor of the County Press and can be reached at 361-526-2397 or at josborne@mySouTex.com.