Coaches from across the state have flocked to Fort Worth for the 81st annual Texas High School Coaches Association Convention and Coaching School.
An estimated 12,000-13,000 attendees are expected for the sportsapalooza Sunday through Wednesday, where they can enjoy 800 exhibitors, two all-star games and several educational opportunities from some big-name college and high school coaches.
Fort Worth Convention and Visitor’s Bureau officials expect an economic impact of $13 million to the city. At the convention center, 683 sports-themed booths spread over 80,700 square feet will be on display from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday and Tuesday and 8 a.m.-noon Wednesday.
“It’s just a tremendous tradition here in the state of Texas and it’s a way for coaches to come together, rekindle some relationships and, from a networking standpoint, it’s just a great way to do business,” said Joe Martin, who is attending his 10th convention as the assistant director of the THSCA and 35th overall. “There’s also a tremendous educational value, where we really pride ourselves on health and safety and a great education in X’s and O’s in all sports.”
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Among the college football coaches scheduled to speak are TCU’s Gary Patterson, Texas’ Mack Brown, Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin, Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio, Vanderbilt’s James Franklin and SMU’s June Jones.
The all-star basketball game tips off 7 p.m. Moday at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum. Three of the top 2013 Tarrant County area players — Richland’s Leyton Hammonds (Oklahoma State), North Crowley’s Jalan McCloud (Blinn) and Arlington Seguin’s Brandon Parrish (TCU) — were selected to the North team.
“I think it’s pretty prestigious,” said Parrish, who won’t be able to participate due to a scheduling conflict with TCU basketball. “I know that most of the coaches around the state pick the players to play in it, so just to be able to get picked and for my name to be in that conversation is pretty cool.”
The all-star football game kicks off at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Amon G. Carter Stadium as part of what could be a very special several days for Stephenville coach Joseph Gillespie and the Yellow Jacket Nation. Gillespie, fresh off the 2012 Class 3A Division I state championship — his first as the head coach, the school’s fifth overall and first since 1999 — was selected to coach the North team.
“Any time you are selected by your peers, man, what a huge honor,” Gillespie said. “I certainly don’t feel worthy, but definitely honored and I’ve been very blessed. And you want to do a good job because these coaches voted for you for a reason, so you want to do a good job, you want to represent.”
Joining Gillespie on the sidelines will be two more Yellow Jackets: quarterback Tyler Jones and longtime coaching legend Mike Copeland.
Jones, who will play at Texas State, was offensive MVP of the title game after racking up 556 total yards and nine touchdowns to lead Stephenville to a state championship game record of 70 points. Area stars such as Colleyville Heritage running back Connor Davis, Fort Worth Southwest offensive lineman Shane Fulp, Southlake Carroll safety Tanner Jacobson and Birdville offensive lineman Juan Perez were also chosen for the North squad.
Copeland, who has coached and taught at Stephenville for four decades, will not only serve as one of Gillespie’s assistant for the game, but he’ll also be inducted into the THSCA Hall of Honor at 1 p.m. Wednesday at the Omni Fort Worth Hotel ballroom.
“Just to have him on our staff is an honor in and of itself,” Gillespie said. “I’ve been so blessed because I grew up in Stephenville, played for Stephenville, and Coach Copeland was one of our defensive coaches and growing up, he taught me. His boys and I are close friends — I mean he’s almost like a second dad to me.”