Armando Jacinto kept getting shut down.
He prepared diligently for the interview process and was certainly qualified to become a Texas high school football head coach having gone from Waco University Middle School coach in 1986 to assistant head coach at University High School (2007) and eventually defensive coordinator at Austin Travis High.
A ‘no’ here or there would have been understandable.
“In some cases I may not have presented myself well,” Jacinto admitted.
But being shut down 24 times without getting an opportunity?
“I knew it wasn’t [because of my experience],” he said.
Jacinto eventually landed that head coaching gig after his 25th interview, becoming the head coach at Austin Travis in 2009. He’s spent the last six years as the assistant athletic director at Spring ISD.
In addition to his current role, Jacinto also serves as the president of the Hispanic Texas High School Football Coaches Association, an organization in its first year of existence which he hopes will keep coaches that look like him from having to experience as many tribulations as he once did.
“I would get feedback and they’d say, ‘Well, coach, you have great qualifications and a great plan to try to establish a program, but you’re just not a great fit for us,” he said. “One or two times, I get it. I understand. Maybe I wasn’t old enough or didn’t have the experience they were looking for. But after a while you could tell something wasn’t right.
“Maybe now [HTHSFBCA members] don’t have to go to 25 interviews.”
The organization was originally started by a group of coaches that thought Hispanic coaches around the state could benefit from a close-knit community of like-minded professionals looking to advance in the workplace.
The founding members include Sharpstown head coach Cirilo Ojeda, Falfurrias head coach Ruben Garcia, Pasadena Dobie assistant coach Sergio Gonzalez, Pearland Dawson defensive line coach Mike Garcia and Buda Hays wide receiver coach Issac Rodriquez.
“Those guys, to me, had a vision and now we have a group of 12 board members,” said North Garland head coach and athletic director Joe Castillo, who also serves as VP of the Hispanic TXHSFB Coaches Association. “We have a constitution, a purpose, a vision, core values, everything that is needed for an association.”
Castillo, like Jacinto, was often the only Hispanic coach on staff as he worked his way up through the ranks.
“When I first arrived at North Garland in 2012, I was the first Hispanic head football coach and campus athletic director in Garland ISD history,” he said. “That was a ‘wow’ moment for me, not so much because of what I’d accomplished, but ‘wow,’ why has it taken this long?”
Now, Garland ISD has three Hispanic head coaches, and four of the seven are minority.
“I’d like to commend my superintendent in Garland ISD, Dr. Ricardo Lopez,” said Castillo, who also thanks legendary Garland ISD executive director Homer Johnson for giving him his opportunity.
“We don’t want anything given to us, but we do want the opportunity to interview for positions. As the Association grows, our goal is to help those behind us and ensure that they get the chance to lead, and that they’re prepared.”
There are over 700 members in the Hispanic Texas High School Football Coaches Association with upwards of 90 new members coming in every month.
Castillo wanted to emphasize that this isn’t something that is competing with the Texas High School Coaches Association, rather an unofficial subset of THSCA focused on growing the Hispanic coaching community.
“We’re not trying to compete with them. Our allegiance is always to the Texas High School Coaches Association,” he said. “We are sworn to help facilitate and cultivate the increasing need for highly qualified educators and coaches in the state, with an emphasis on Hispanic coaches.”
HTHSFBCA holds clinics – most recently of the Zoom variety – and has even welcomed special guests like Chicago Bears offensive line coach Juan Castillo and A&M-Kingsville head coach Mike Salinas.
“The disparity in Hispanic head coaches is pretty big,” Castillo said. “I got something from research that in 2018 from 6A all the way down to 1A, there were about 802 Anglo head coaches, 141 African American head coaches and 142 Hispanic coaches and then one was another race. We just want to make sure that when our opportunities come, that we’re ready. That’s why it’s important.”
Added Jacinto: “It’s easier to approach somebody when they look like them. All these people helped me, they did, but I never saw anybody that looked like me in a leadership-type role.”
Now Jacinto and Castillo are both in those leaderships roles in their respective communities and through the Hispanic Texas High School Football Coaches Association, looking to give whatever guidance they can.
“I think about my past as a coach, and often times you’re the only Hispanic coach on staff,” Castillo said. “We just want other coaches of Hispanic background to have somebody they can talk to. We’re not trying to divide anything; we’re just wanting to give Hispanic coaches some help. Maybe they’re applying for a job and maybe we can help prepare them for that opportunity.”
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