by BRAD ROLLINS
An enthusiastic San Marcos CISD school board voted unanimously Monday evening to hire Mark Soto as the new district athletic director and high school head football coach.
Board members said they were excited about Soto’s athletic achievements — he’s helped coach teams in three 5A and 4A state championship games in two sports — but also his emphasis on improving academic performance of student athletes. While defensive coordinator at Judson High School in Converse, Soto said he implemented tutorial programs credited with improving student athletes’ standardized test scores and raising them to an average 88 grade-point average.
“We’re going to make sure the kids get what they need to be successful in athletics but we’re going to make sure they understand that education is the priority,” Soto told board members and the audience after the 7-0 vote to hire him. “We’re going to make sure these kids understand that what they do in the classroom is more important than what they do on the field. But both of those go hand in hand.”
The defensive coordinator at Judson High School in Converse since 2005, Soto’s resume includes stints as assistant football coach at United High School in Laredo and as assistant baseball and football coach at Holmes High in San Antonio, Calallen High in Corpus Christi, Seguin High and Poteet High. While at Calallen, the baseball team won the 4A baseball championship in 2000.
As a high school student, Soto was team captain of the San Antonio-Judson team during two 5A state championship runs. He as on the sidelines as defense coordinator during two state championship runs in 2005 and 2007.
Soto’s selection caps a long search to find a replacement for Steve Van Nest, who resigned in June.
Faced with picking between three finalists recommended by Superintendent Mark Eads, the board in late January voted 4-3 to extend the application process during which time Soto, who had not put his name in initially, applied for the San Marcos job. In the meantime, two of the original three finalists found jobs elswhere, including Todd Raymond of McCallum High School in Austin who accepted the head football and athletic director slot for Lehman High School in Kyle.
Under University Interscholastic League district realignments announced last month, Soto’s Rattlers will be competing against his high school alma mater, Converse-Judson, in a strong 5A field that also includes New Braunfels, New Braunfels-Canyon, San Antonio-Wagner and Smithson Valley.Email | Print
Sounds like a good hire. I look forward to seeing what kinds of success he can bring to San Marcos, both athletically and academically.
So our actual hire *was* someone who hadn’t applied prior to the Board extending the hiring process. I wonder if that will make a difference to those who were screaming so loudly against the idea of the extension?
Great to hear an Athletic Director talking about the importance of academics. The vast majority of high school athletes have virtually no chance of someday making a living as athletes, which means they still need to make the grades if they hope for any kind of future.
Texas does seem to suffer from an Athletics Uber Alles mindset, so this is refreshing indeed. Here’s wishing Mark Soto the best of luck in his new post.
Not to throw water on anyone, because I really hope this emphasis is true (and it would be if WE actually cared more about academics than athletics…but I could say the same thing when it comes to politics and economics compared to the bread and circuses that increasingly occupy our cultural mindset), but having seen the up and down sides of plenty of AD hires during my educational career it has been my experience that a new coach claiming to be all about academics is akin to a politician claiming to be all about lowering taxes or supporting families…in others words it is one of those obligatory niceties that pretty much everyone says, but whether or not it is true or not very much remains to be seen…that said, I’ll keep my fingers crossed that we have found an exception to the rule of athletic obsession…
@ Keith you will see that Mark Soto is all about the well rounded student. Coach Soto not only talks the talk but he walks the walk, and emphasizes the importance of education.
A graduate of Missouri Valley College in Marshall, Missouri, Soto made the Dean’s List while earning a Bachelor of Science Physical Education degree. He received an institutional scholarship to play football, and was listed in “Who’s Who Among College Students” among numerous other collegiate recognitions. He has felt the need to raise academics among the student athletes in his charge. While at Judson, Soto is proud to have installed tutorial programs that helped raise all Judson athletes to an average 88 GPA and improved TAKS scores. He’s been instrumental in helping high school athletes receive placement in colleges such as Duke, Baylor, Rice, and West Point—averaging seven per year.