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2015 UIL Sponsor Excellence Award Winners

AUSTIN— The University Interscholastic League is proud to recognize 15 of the best UIL sponsors in Texas as the 2015 UIL Sponsor Excellence Award winners.

The winners were selected by a panel of judges in the areas of academics, athletics and music from nominations submitted by school principals and superintendents across the state.

The award, now in its 25th year, was created to identify and recognize outstanding sponsors who enable students to develop and refine their extracurricular talents to the highest degree possible within the education system.

“Teachers and coaches are asked to do so much, and they go above and beyond the call of duty to serve as UIL sponsors, coaches and directors,” said UIL Executive Director Dr. Charles Breithaupt. “UIL events would not be possible without tireless effort and dedication from sponsors like these. On behalf of the UIL, I commend these outstanding educators.”

Each winner will receive $1,000 and a symbolic memento from the UIL in recognition of their outstanding achievements in the pursuit of educational excellence through interscholastic competition. The League continually strives to strengthen and promote the role of extracurricular activities in Texas through programs like the UIL Sponsor Excellence Award.

The UIL Sponsor Excellence Award winners for 2015 are as follows:

Blake Sandford – Early High School

Blake Sandford has been a football and baseball coach for 20 years, and athletic director at Early High School for seven years. In his time as athletic director he has implemented a character value system for his teams. Sandford encourages his student-athletes to support all UIL activities in the school, specifically the band during the UIL Marching Band State Contest.

“I believe that in building a strong athletic program, you must start with a foundation of character,” Sandford said. “The values of respect, honor, integrity, and courage to compete are at the forefront of what I believe in.”

Kenneth Brown – Boys Ranch High School

During his 25 years as a coach, Kenneth Brown has lead students to success in football, basketball, wrestling, baseball, track and cross country. His cross country teams have advanced to the UIL Cross Country State Meet for the past 13 consecutive years, and his teams have never placed lower than 5th. Brown has also coached 13 athletes at the UIL Track & Field State Meet.

“I endeavor to promote honorable and ethical behavior and to build strong character in our athletes,” Brown said. “Boys Ranch cross country runners will model sportsmanship with teammates and competitors and they will treat peers and adults with appropriate respect and dignity.”

Skip Townsend – Argyle High School

Skip Townsend has dedicated a total of 43 years to coaching several sports including basketball, track and baseball. In his 36 years as a girls basketball coach he has won seven state championships, coached 15 all-state players, three high school All-Americans and three players who went on to become professional athletes.

“I feel that competition and athletics play an important role in the educational setting. It teaches life lessons about success, failure, winning, losing and how to have the character to handle both,” Townsend said.

Amanda Drinkwater – Flower Mound Marcus High School

During her 21 years of directing UIL bands, Amanda Drinkwater has encouraged students of all ability levels to participate and compete in UIL music contests. She has helped prepare more than 50 concert ensembles to earn first division ratings at these contests.

“We aim to uphold an enthusiastic, engaged environment in which individual excellence is a self-directed and intrinsically motivated endeavor for our members each and every day,” Drinkwater said.

Bryan Buffaloe – Houston Clear Lake

Bryan Buffaloe has been an orchestra director for 21 years and directs six performing ensembles for concerts and UIL sight reading contests each year. The majority of their 180 solo entries receive first division ratings each year.

“I feel competition provides students an opportunity to grow in their life endeavors and enables them to become self-sufficient adults if they are exposed to competition in a healthy environment,” Buffaloe said.

Mark McGahey – Keller High School

For the past 28 years, Mark McGahey has been a dedicated music director in Texas schools. He has lead his marching bands to the UIL State Marching Contest seven times, and has directed the Keller High School Wind Ensemble to a Sweepstakes trophy for 20 consecutive years.

“My overall philosophy as a teacher is to use the vehicle of music education to teach lifelong skills that will stay with students through their college years and into their adult lives,” McGahey said.

Cindy Callaham – Ropesville Ropes High School

Cindy Callaham has been a UIL sponsor for 20 years in many academic events including one-act play, poetry interpretation, prose interpretation, extemporaneous speaking, and other speaking events. Callaham has coached multiple students to the UIL Academic State Meet.

“Hard work is a key to my team’s success,” Callaham said. “It requires many hours after school and on weekends. I believe this is one of the best ways to prepare students for their future.”

D’Lyn Morris – Lockney High School

D’Lyn Morris has been a committed academic sponsor for 16 years. During her time coaching science, current issues and events, and computer science, Morris has lead many students to the Academic State Meet.

“I feel that competing in UIL is a perfect extension of the classroom, not only for the gifted and talented students, but for students of all levels,” said Morris.

Jennifer Adams – Big Spring High School

During her 20 years as an academic sponsor, Jennifer Adams has coached debate, extemporaneous speaking, oral interpretation, ready writing, current issues and events, social studies and literary criticism. Adams has coached 37 state qualifiers and an extemporaneous speaking state champion.

“Participation in UIL academics gives students from all parts of the state an opportunity to grow and learn,” Adams said. “I can think of no program that does as much to instill these goals as participation in UIL Academic events.”

Anna Coppedge – Canton High School

Anna Coppedge has been a devoted UIL academic sponsor for the past eight years, leading students in one-act play, cross examination debate, poetry and prose interpretation, current issues and events, and literary criticism. Her students have qualified for the UIL Academic State Meet the past three consecutive years, and she coached a current issues and events team to a 2nd place finish at the 2015 UIL Academic State Meet.

“I believe that competition is a part of a quality education,” Coppedge said. “It allows students to put their knowledge into action, while enhancing their acquired skill sets and ability to be successful in the world outside of school.”

JJ Jonas – Salado High School

JJ Jonas has been a UIL sponsor for 15 years and has coached journalism, poetry and prose interpretation and one-act play. She has coached 17 state finalists and four state champions. As a one-act play director she has made eight state championship appearances.

“Our educational mission is to allow students to find opportunities and motives for growth; competition is about the ability of an individual to recognize superior abilities or knowledge in one another and aspire to that level and to go beyond it,” Jonas said.

Jill Wilkinson – Midway High School

As a UIL sponsor for 20 years, Jill Wilkinson has coached one-act play, poetry and prose interpretation, and debate. She has helped many students prepare for UIL Academic State Meets, including coaching a state runner-up in prose interpretation.

“UIL provides students with numerous opportunities to work as a team, teach perseverance and increase creativity,” Wilkinson said. “The greatest accomplishments that I have seen students achieve as a result of my efforts are finding their passions.”

Margo Reeder – Ballinger High School

Margo Reeder has been a involved in UIL journalism for 22 years, and has also coached UIL literary criticism, spelling and vocabulary, one-act play, ready writing, current events, and social studies. Reeder has coached many students to the UIL Academic State Meet, including several top six journalism finishes.

“I firmly believe that learning to lose and lose gracefully in competition has immeasurable benefits,” Reeder said. “I also want students to understand the joy of competing goes far beyond medals and winners.”

Roumaldo Guerrero – La Feria High School

Throughout his 20 years as a UIL academics sponsor, Roumaldo Guerrero has coached science, mathematics, number sense and calculator applications. He has lead his teams to three consecutive science team championships at the UIL Academic State Meet, and has coached more than 20 UIL state medalists.

“UIL competition in sports, band and academics is a forum for students to compete at an extraordinary level. These competitions build character,” Guerrero said. “It teaches students to set goals and to work hard to meet them.”

Susan Mathews – Magnolia High School

Susan Mathews has been a UIL accounting coach for 15 years and has lead two teams and two individuals to championships at the UIL Academic State Meet.

“Healthy competition is invaluable to students in preparing them for the next season in their lives, whether they chose to join the work force, enroll in college or join the armed services,” Mathews said.