By Constancio Martinez Jr
Special to the PRESS
Last Wednesday the PI-ISD, Port Isabel High School and Tarpon Athletic Booster Club held a surprise ceremony for football head coach Tony Villareal celebrating his 200th career win.
Port Isabel Assistant Coach John Calvillo, who also worked with Villarreal in Weslaco for 11 years, had some words about coach Villarreal.
“When he says he’s your coach, not only is he your coach in high school, he’s gonna be your coach for life. He is a special individual, he’s my mentor and to be on the field with him to accomplish that win is something special.”
Current Port Isabel High School teacher and previous coach under Villarreal, Mario Lazo, also shared some insights about coach Villarreal.
“His thing is to make you young men, to see you grow and to be more than you are. He’s more than just a coach.”
Port Isabel’s offensive coordinator, Juan Torres, also spoke about Villarreal.
“Coach Tony is the greatest and when I think about the greatest, I think about someone that makes other people better. He’s made every single coach on his staff better including every player he’s ever coached.” Torres said. “It’s an honor, it’s a privilege, it’s a huge blessing to be in that office with him every morning to be able to hear the wisdom, the passion he has”.
School Board President Heather Scott congratulated Villarreal on his milestone.
“You embodied the meaning of the ‘Pride of South Texas’ in your work ethic, in your dedication to your school and your student athletes,” said Scott.
Cameron County Pct. 1 Justice of the Peace Judge Benny Ochoa IV, who is also President of the athletic booster club, recalled he was just a waterboy when Villarreal coached the Tarpons in the early 90s.
Ochoa is glad coach Villarreal has returned to coach at PI. Since his return, he said he has built a good relationship with him through the booster club.
Ochoa said “it’s an honor and a pleasure” to work with Villarreal.
The club performs several fundraisers throughout the year to raise money for scholarships for student athletes. The club provided drinks and cakes for the ceremony.
Closing the ceremony, Villarreal said it was a humbling situation.
“When beginning coaching you’re not looking for your 200th win, you just want to win the next game.” said Villarreal.
Villarreal thanked all his former and current players, coaches, coaches’ spouses, administrations, parents and fans.
Villarreal accumulated his wins with four different schools, but Villarreal says he was glad he accomplished the goal in Port Isabel, where he got his first opportunity to be a head coach.
As if in ode to more future wins, Villarreal announced that PIHS had already secured the Alamodome in San Antonio for the playoffs.