by Moses Leos III
Only a few days have passed since Hays CISD announced that Neal La Hue would take over as athletic coordinator and head football coach at Hays High. Even so, the news continued to resonate within the mind of the new Rebels head coach.
“It is exciting,” exclaimed a proud La Hue, who takes over a position at Hays which has only seen two other men take the helm as the head football coach. “Hays’ reputation is tremendous, and their tradition is fantastic. Additionally, my family is excited to move into the Austin area.”
La Hue led Roosevelt High School in San Antonio to football state playoffs – in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012.
La Hue, who was the coach and athletic coordinator at San Antonio Roosevelt, felt that his own roots in the Austin area helped him make the difficult choice of accepting the Hays job. La Hue, who graduated from Lanier High School, understands just how tough the landscape of high school football is within the region.
“In terms of high school football, the Austin area truly intrigues me. While at San Antonio Roosevelt, we played against Bowie last season; Round Rock two seasons previous. The Austin area has a tremendous pool of coaching talent. I have been impressed with the challenge that brings, which is one of the reasons I chose to take the Hays coaching position,” said LaHue.
La Hue was offered the position after much review by a district panel, and he was chosen from a pool of almost 100 applicants.
La Hue is currently from LaVernia, and he and his wife, Margaret, have three children, 18-year-old Claire Elizabeth, 13-year-old Anais Maria and eight-year-old Michael James.
Family was a mitigating factor in La Hue choosing to coach within Hays CISD. “I have kids that are in grade and middle school. I believe that Hays CISD is a great district for my children to grow up in,” La Hue said.
What La Hue brings to the Rebel football program is the experience of playing in a tremendously difficult district. During his seven year tenure at Roosevelt, La Hue led the Roughriders to a 29-21 record in District 26-5A – a district which has housed perennial powers such as Smithson Valley, Converse Judson, San Antonio Madison and New Braunfels. La Hue said every game felt like a “dogfight.”
However, before focusing on preparations for the upcoming 2014 season, the first thing on Coach La Hue’s mind is just to understand the team he has inherited.
“The first thing is for our kids to start learning a new coaching philosophy. I want to get to know these kids and what they can do. We’re coming up on what I’d like to call, “early spring,” which is an important time in football. This is where I want to begin installing our philosophy,” said La Hue.
However, not lost on the new Rebel head coach is the position of athletic coordinator and the responsibilities that holds.
“My goal is to ensure that all programs at Hays are successful, that all programs have the necessary resources to compete, and that there are good numbers in the athletic program. We strive to become competitive at all levels,” said La Hue.
He knows that his job will be to oversee growth beyond the field, where students are able to “learn values as a team,” outside of the athletic arena.
La Hue has not only served as a football coach in the past, but has also been involved in soccer and track and started the soccer program at Calallen High School.
Besides Roosevelt High School. La Hue has also been in the 1980s and 1990s at high schools that have been Hays High competitors, including Westlake, Calallen and Seguin. In more recent years, he was the athletic director and head football coach at Kerrville Tivy High School.
For La Hue, moving to Hays gives him an opportunity to further accomplish what he enjoys doing: teaching and coaching on the gridiron.
“I want the kids to have a great experience,” said La Hue, “I would like the team to come together, work hard, and have fun doing it. I like to see hard work, and I know this group can do just that.”
La Hue also worked at the collegiate level, as an offensive coordinator at Texas A&M University – Kingsville. the team earned three Lone Star Conference championships. While La Hue was there, the TAMU-Kingsville Javelinas were ranked in the top ten nationally in their conference level.
La Hue got his BS in Physician Education and Health in 1985 from Texas A&I University, now TAMU-Kingsville). He received his MS from there in 1987.