New Austin hoops coach selected for prestigious state mentorship program
With such great potential, Austin High head basketball coach Rick Sapien’s coaching career is certain to become ‘rock’ solid.
The Panther’s first-year head coach was recently named to the 2nd Annual Rare Outstanding Compelled Knowledgeable (ROCK) mentoring program by the Texas High School Coaches Association (THSCA). He will be traveling to Dallas’s AT&T Stadium in March to join other coaches from across the state for valuable training, cultivating leadership for coaches with five years of experience under their belt.
“I feel very honored and it’s humbling because when you get a head coaching job, you feel like you made it but there’s so much more to learn,” Sapien said. “I’m so excited to go through the program and learn from people who have been doing it for 20-plus years and to see what they did to stay 20 years in the business.”
The ROCK Coaches Mentoring Program is a partnership formed between the THSCA and Texas A&M’s Thornton-McFerrin Coaching Academy to meet the needs of and retain high school coaches and administrators.
“THSCA and the Thornton-McFerrin Coaching Academy believe there is a critical need to cultivate and assist young coaches to find their passion and be prepared as coaches, teachers, and leaders in an ever-evolving environment,” THSCA said in a news release announcing the 2022 mentees. “In this increasingly rewarding, complicated, and challenging area the ROCK Coaches Mentoring Program has been developed by and for coaches to cultivate leadership, foster work alignment, execute best practices, combat apathy, enhance time management and address work life balance issues.”
Sapien started coaching elementary-aged athletes 11 years ago and got hired as a teacher and coach five years ago in the Ysleta Independent School District. He left an assistant job at Ysleta High School for the Austin gig.
“I have a passion to coach and be involved in kids’ lives,” Sapien said. “I see myself coaching for a very long time.”
Interim athletic director David Cervantes, impressed by Sapien during his interview, nominated him for the mentoring program and will be traveling with him to Dallas.
“He will represent EPISD and the west Texas region well,” Cervantes said. “The leadership at THSCA has shown great support and commitment to our coaches in EPISD. The preparation and knowledge Coach Sapien will obtain through this game-changing program will give him added tools to make an optimal impact to our student athletes at Austin High School.”
The first-year head coach is already making an impact on students. The team got off to a great start at the beginning of the season, wavered a bit mid-season with injuries and COVID, and expects to make a strong finish.
“I’ve told my guys you are team 92, there are 91 other teams that have put Austin across their chest,” said Sapien, referring to the school’s history of fielding basketball teams since its opening in 1930. “When we get on the floor, we expect to win, to compete because that is the ultimate goal. It takes discipline and structure, getting on the floor and expecting to win, holding a tradition and honoring your school.”
He’s elated to attend the training to make connections and ask questions – lots of questions.
“I’m so grateful to be around great mentors already with Coach (David) Cervantes and Coach (Eric) Pichardo, our athletic director, and our principal Ms. Ponce,” he said. “They’ve been amazing and very patient with me. I ask a thousand questions a day and I think they like that because they know it’s going to be done correctly. To me, it’s an honor to be selected for the program because I’m going to ask a thousand questions when I get there.”