Coach Carlos Enrico serves as an inspiration both on and off the field.
Coach Carlos Enrico certainly belongs in this category.
Currently the head football coach and athletic director for Central Catholic High School, Enrico has inspired generations of students who have walked the school's hallowed halls.
A 1972 graduate of Central Catholic
never imagined working for his
beloved alma matter, and may not have ever ended up there had it not been for a chance encounter with a friend.
After receiving his undergraduate degree in 1976 from Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University), Enrico began student teaching.
"I was student teaching at McCollum High School
and had been applying for a permanent position at other schools when I ran into a friend who mentioned an opening at Central," Enrico recalls.
"Once I had committed, other school districts started to call, but something felt right about being back home."
In 1976, Enrico started coaching at Central Catholic, but it was far from ascending directly as head coach.
"I started coaching [physical education], cross country and football," Enrico
"I also received a stipend for doing the team's laundry, which wasn't a bad deal altogether."
Enrico, who obtained his graduate degree from Our Lady of the Lake University in 1982, knew his passion lay in coaching, as he had seen firsthand the impact his coaches had on his own life.
wanted to have that same impact on others, and to help keep his
students "on the right track," as he
Contrary to most of the aforementioned coaches, Enrico claims that he did not have too many rules as coach.
felt that the more rules he
tried to instill in his
students, the more chances they had to break them.
did ask of them was to use their God-given talents to the utmost, and to always do what is right.
request had an impact on many lives, and his
former students still speak of him with the same respect they had as players, if not more so.
"I credit Coach [Enrico] with keeping me on the straight and narrow," says David Solis, a 1990 graduate and current Central Catholic Alumni Board member.
also had an influence over students who didn't play for him, as his
presence alone made students take notice.
"As an athletic director, Enrico had a most positive influence on all sports at Central Catholic," says Thomas Aguillon, a 1992 graduate and member and past board president of the Central Catholic Alumni Association.
"Our basketball team won state in 1991, and we credit part of our success with the winning mentality that Enrico
drilled into all of us."
Like all great coaches, Enrico
tends to remember the games he
lost more than those he
won, as they would undoubtedly end up as inspiration for a future practice session.
recalls fondly his
first state championship game when Central Catholic
played St. Thomas out of Houston, Texas, in 2001.
wife, Carmen, approached him after that game on the field, Enrico
admits to breaking down in tears amidst all of the week's emotions.
Married for more than 31 years, Carmen has been a constant presence at each game since Enrico
has only missed one game throughout my entire career, which was for the funeral of a cousin in Matamoros," Enrico
"I told her
to go to the funeral and be with her
A bilingual supervisor with Northside Independent School District
, Carmen met Enrico
while they were both students at Southwest.
They share an obvious love and appreciation for education.
, whose abrupt "retirement" as head football coach has been the subject of recent stories in the media, smiles warmly as he
thinks about the young men - some of them now grandparents - who played for him as his
"Our alums are what keep Central Catholic thriving," Enrico states.
"So many of our former students are leaders in the community, whether in politics, business or the community in general, yet they always find time to give back to their Central.
When you attend Central, a special bond forms for life, and our alumni do everything they can to help make sure that any kid who wants to attend Central Catholic
has the means to do so."
has a rule of always making time for former students who come back to visit him - something that resulted from an incident early in his
coaching career that still haunts him.
Enrico shares the story of a former student who had stopped by to speak with him, but unfortunately had just missed him by a few minutes.
heard that he
missed the student, he
had hoped the student would stop by again, as Enrico
was looking forward to the visit.
"I learned that [the former student] had hung himself the next day, and I was devastated," Enrico
"I promised myself that day I would never miss an opportunity to visit with a former student who took the time to stop by."
Throughout his career, Enrico has been approached by other schools interested in having the successful head coach lead their teams to championship.
However, despite the allure of more money, Enrico
has stayed faithful to Central Catholic
, even when some would question the school's faithfulness to Enrico
As word spread recently that Enrico would be stepping down as head football coach and would remain as athletic director, an outpouring of support from current and former students demonstrated to Enrico like never before how many lives he had touched throughout his years at Central.
After receiving hundreds of emails, letters, text messages and phone calls from former students (some of whom he
hadn't heard from in 20 to 30 years), Enrico
was humbled and grateful for his
time at Central Catholic
"My wife says that I am the only coach in America who got to hear his
eulogy before he
died," Enrico laughs.
A testament to his
career and unyielding dedication to his
has collected many letters from parents and former students over the years.
keeps them in a special drawer in his
office and reads them when he
feels the need, drawing inspiration from them just as their authors were inspired by him for so many years.
"It's been a true blessing to have had the opportunity to touch and influence so many lives," Enrico