Brownsville Independent School District athletic director Gilbert D. Leal was named the Region 7 athletic administrator of the year by the Texas High School Athletic Directors Association on May 26.
The THSADA selects one administrator from each of the eight regions across Texas to award for their efforts in bettering their district athletics and for their involvement with the administration. After 25 years as a coach, Leal took the BISD position in 2018 to focus solely on athletic administration and quickly earned the respect of his peers.
“I was super surprised (to receive this award). It’s definitely a blessing,” Leal said. “This is the first time I’ve been in pure athletic administration, so it’s been a challenging transition, but at the same time I still see the wins and losses from this position. Now they’re in facility improvements, hiring quality personnel, so the wins and losses take a little longer than from week to week.”
Leal is a Harlingen native and was named a team captain in football, basketball and baseball when playing for the Harlingen High Cardinals. He went on to play quarterback for Sul Ross State University.
Leal returned to Harlingen High to begin his coaching career. He was a head coach/athletic director at Mercedes and Harlingen South, and served as an offensive coordinator for the Cardinals, San Benito and Hidalgo. He also had a coaching stint at San Antonio Jefferson. Leal said his coaching and leadership experiences have helped him with his mission at BISD.
“I’ve always been a natural leader, so I feel comfortable in this position. I’m comfortable trying to help people. That’s probably what my motto is, to help as many people as possible,” Leal said. “The reason I took this position is it’s a role where you have a lot of influence on student athletes and coaches and programs, so I’m trying to use my last 25 years of coaching experience to help as many coaches as I can.”
Leal was quick to thank others in the district for what they do and said the award is a collective effort and a win for the entire BISD family. Coaches from schools and sports across BISD took to social media to congratulate Leal on the recognition.
“It’s a team effort. We have a great administration, we have a great board and we were able to do a lot of things here in two years, like some needed updates to our facilities. You could say there’s a renewed fire from this position to give coaches some guidelines to help their programs out,” Leal said. “I know we have six different high schools, but from Day 1 our motto is ‘Six schools, one family,’ and all (the messages from coaches) shows me is that when BISD gets an award like this, our entire district wins, not just one individual.”
Along with Leal, other winners were Lubbock ISD’s JJ Johnson, Ector County ISD’s Tracey Borchardt, Prosper ISD’s Val Little, Socorro ISD’s James Nunn, Cy Fair ISD’s Ray Zepeda, Pflugerville ISD’s Todd Raymond and North East ISD’s Karen Funk.