Katy High School coach champions faith, others

April 25, 2016

KATY — Every Sunday at the 7:30 a.m. Mass at St. Bartholomew the Apostle Catholic Church in Katy, Gary Joseph sits quietly in the front fully engaged in the celebration. He gets up to lector and proclaim the Scripture and serves as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. No one would ever guess that this humble servant is Texas football royalty.

Coach Joseph, head football coach and athletic director of the Katy High School Tigers, will be inducted into the Texas High School Football Hall of Fame on May 7 at the Baylor University Ferrell Center in Waco. He’s got some pretty impressive company in the 2016 class, including former NFL players Vince Young and LaDainian Tomlinson, and Coach Bob Ledbetter. 

In a state where high school football is king, Coach Joseph recognizes and celebrates the one true King. Father Wayne Wilkerson, pastor at St. Bart’s, said there is a depth to Coach Joseph that not many people see.
“He’s a very humble man,” Father Wilkerson said. “He does not like a lot of fanfare for himself, but he likes for others to be lifted up. The kids on the football team see him at Mass and to hear the boys talk about him is incredible. Parishioners admire him too.”

Father Wilkerson said Coach Joseph values the kids’ spiritual growth and their Sacraments. The two work together when conflicts arise, like football practice and a confirmation retreat. 

“He wouldn’t put football above the Lord,” Father Wilkerson said. “We’re both on the same page and it makes him easy to work with. He is a practicing Catholic and he chooses to follow Christ. He knows who he is and he knows whose he is and that speaks volumes.” 

Fully decked out in his Katy High School gear and within walking distant to Rhodes Stadium, Father Wilkerson does not miss a game. Coach Joseph gave him a season pass and Father Wilkerson even talks about the team from the pulpit. 

“I’ve called him out many times and congratulated him,” Father Wilkerson said. “It embarrasses him a bit, but I think it touches his heart to know his clergy is behind him. He’s been great for St. Bart’s and he’s been a part of the parish for almost 40 years. He loves his parish.”

Even after winning his fourth state championship this year and seeing the pep rally go into the wee hours on Saturday, Father Wilkerson said Coach Joseph was at 7:30 a.m. Mass to serve on Sunday. All the accolades are a gift and Coach Joseph said he understands that his induction into the Hall of Fame is not all about him.

“We have to appreciate what’s been given to us,” he said. “It’s an honor for Katy High School, my staff and my parents. It’s an award for all of Katy, really, because every person has played a part. This award will be shared because we all contributed.” 

Coach Joseph will be one of the two coaches inducted into the category honoring Eddie Joseph, Coach Joseph’s father. Eddie Joseph is known in Texas and Oklahoma for his football prowess and talent, but Coach Joseph knows him for being a wonderful father.

“My parents gave me a great Christian background,” he said. “My father was a coach and he taught me about priorities. He showed me that the important things were raising a family and spending quality time with your kids.”

Coach Joseph is a family man with a wife and three kids, one son-in-law and a new granddaughter, but he also gives a lot of his time to his staff and his players. His goal is to teach his players some of the valuable principles he was taught.

“We’re here to help kids understand that we’re godly people and appreciate what God has given them,” he said. “When they get out of Katy High School, they can be great young men, husbands and fathers. That’s important to us.”

Coach Joseph challenges his players to be leaders and has a leadership council where he and his staff explain leadership and accountability. He said they want to help them understand that they need to be responsible for their actions and the actions of others.

“With a winning tradition, there are expectations,” he said. “The kids have to understand that you have to make people a priority. There’s no coo kie-cutter right or wrong way to do things though — it’s just about developing a relationship with kids. All kids are different and we try to get to know them and develop trust in each other. It doesn’t happen overnight.” 

Praising Coach Joseph’s integrity, Father Wilkerson said Coach Joseph instills a sense of honor and what it means to be a man in these young men.

“I think he calls them out of their own family of origin,” Father Wilkerson said. “He calls them into a reality of embracing who God has created them to be.” 

Coach Joseph has been Katy’s head football coach since 2004, replacing Mike Johnston after serving as his staff since Johnston started in 1982. According to the Texas Football Hall of Fame website, Katy is 168-14 in Joseph’s 12 seasons, winning four state championships with eight total appearances in state finals games. The team was named National Champions by the National Sports News Service and Coach Joseph was named National High School Coach of the Year in 2012. 

The Tigers have 11 district championships under Joseph. He has been named District 18/19 6A Coach of the Year 11 times, Houston Touchdown Club Coach of the Year twice and Houston Texans 5A Coach of the Year four times. He was also honored by the Katy Chamber of Commerce as Katy’s 2007 Citizen of the Year. And the list of achievements goes on and on and on. With all the successes, Coach Joseph knows exactly where to give his glory.

“I take time to thank God for what he’s given me,” he said. “This program is built on trust and belief and there are no shortcuts to success. I’m so thankful for the parents who let us coach their kids. We’ve got good people here who I believe in and we have so many kids who believe in us.”

Before his induction to the Hall of Fame on May 7, Coach Joseph will be right where he wants to be — seated on the dunking booth at the St. Bart’s bazaar on May 1.