Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Professional Staffer Has Been Longtime Football Coach, and Mentor to Young Men

Personnel Technician Hector Rodriguez’s life journey is one of unselfishness and compassion, rooted in his own experience growing up. As a former high school football player who became a coach and mentor, he understands the challenges young men face and the importance of having positive role models in their lives.

During his years playing high school football, in the late ’80s, he would volunteer his time after practice to help coach a youth football team at a local park. Instead of heading straight home to eat and rest after practice, he would walk over to the park to teach 12 and 13-year-olds. The head coach of that youth football team was more than a mentor to him, he was like a father.

“I wanted to give back to the program there, I think that was one of my callings early, because the guy who made a difference in my life, who I consider my dad, he was my first coach, he is still in my life, he was the person who first got me into coaching,” Mr. Rodriguez said. “My dad wasn’t around, so he filled that spot for me.”

Mr. Rodriguez learned a lot from the coach, not just about sports but about life, and those lessons he has applied to the new generation of young men. After Mr. Rodriguez finished high school, he played football in college and then returned home, where he worked for the Miami-Dade Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for seven years. During that time, he secured his first high school football coaching job, at Miami Christian High School.

One of his players was a kid that he had coached at the park. The student’s parents could not afford to keep up with the school’s tuition, so the student was in danger of having his enrollment dropped and losing his position with the team. After learning of the player’s situation, Mr. Rodriguez walked into the school’s headmaster’s office and requested that his coaching stipend be used to pay for the player’s tuition. The student eventually graduated, went to college, earned a degree, and is now gainfully employed.

“One of the privileges that I have is when kids come back, and we don’t talk about football, we talk about life, marriages, kids,” Mr. Rodriguez said. “That’s where you see the coaching part really make a difference. I tell my kids even now at the high school level, that my relationship with them goes beyond football, you can pick up the phone and call me whenever you want, I tell them that all the time.”

Mr. Rodriguez has been an assistant coach for the Belen Jesuit Preparatory School varsity football team for the last nine years. During the season, weekends are for film study and coaching meetings to prepare for the next week’s practice. The game plans are then integrated into the week’s practice. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesdays the team practices in their full gear, and Thursdays they go through a light practice, walking through their plays to make sure that everyone has a full understanding. Fridays are game days, and then the cycle repeats. Mr. Rodriguez said his coaching duties take about 15-20 hours of his time every week during the season.

“I really enjoy coaching, and seeing how the players learn about life through football. That’s the most important thing,” Mr. Rodriguez said.

Originally published at https://www.miamidade.gov/global/news-item.page?Mduid_news=news1712339280922168

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