A Long Overdue Title

By Yolande Lezine
Updated: January 29, 2009

HOUSTON — Madison High School head football coach Ray Seals has been named the 2008 NFL High School Football Coach of the Year. Seals was nominated by two of his former players, Detroit Lions fullback Moran Norris and Tennessee Titans quarterback Vince Young.

This is an honor that is long overdue for Coach Seals, who has coached high school football for 44 years, has had 198 of his players receive college scholarships during his coaching career.

Seals was among the five finalists for the NFL Coach of the Year Award in 2004 and received the Houston Coach of the Year Award 10 times. His goal with each player is to help them succeed both in sports and in everyday life.

“Teamwork and sportsmanship are a must in athletics as in life. If students are to succeed in a world of diversity they must learn to compete as a team and exhibit good sportsmanship at all times”, stated Seals as he talked about his coaching philosophy.

“They will not win every game, but they must accept the losses with as much respect and dignity as the wins.”

I know this to be true of such a great man who goes way beyond the call of duty to look out for every aspect of his players life. Anything that he can do to help he does.

I first met Coach Seals in the early part of his high school coaching career when he was at Sam Houston High. He was the first high school coach that I ever interviewed. I knew he was special from the start of the interview.

We hit it off right from the start!

I kept up with his career at Sam Houston, Milby, and at his present spot at Madison High School. He has always been concerned about the well being of his players both on and off the field.

Anytime a player needed a father figure to talk to about school, home, or just general life issues, the chair in his office was always available. There was never a time limit on how long a young player needed to talk.

That chair is still available today. Many former players always stop by and sit and talk with Coach Seals on a regular basis. He always takes time to talk and visit. I have had many talks with him about a lot of things over the years and we still talk today.

I’ve never met a coach like him and I’m very honored to know him.

This week, Seals and a guest will get to attend Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa Bay as a guest of the NFL. He will receive a check for $5000, and a $10,000 grant will be awarded to the football program at Madison High School.

All grants are awarded by the NFL Youth Football Fund (YFF).

The NFL High School Coach of the Year Award was created in 1995 by the NFL and its teams to honor coaches who profoundly impacted the athletic and personal development of NFL players. This year, more than 60 NFL players nominated the high school football coaches who helped shape them during their teenage years.

A blue-ribbon committee of sports leaders appointed by the NFL selects the NFL High School Coach of the Year. The panel is comprised of Jon Butler, executive director, Pop Warner Little Scholars, Inc., Jack Fleishcher, veteran sportswriter Scott Hallenbeck, executive director, USA Football Grant Teaff, executive director of the American Football Coaches Association; former Dallas Cowboys personnel director and NFL.com contributor Gil Brandt; and Mike Berg, Tony Dematteo, Rich Kallok, and William McGregor II, all former NFL High School Football Coach of the Year winners.

It was very gracious for both Norris and Young to nominate Coach Seals. Moran Norris had previously nominated him before. For Young , this was his first time nominating Seals. I had the opportunity to work behind the scenes with Vince Young at Madison High School per Coach Seals request.

Seals wanted to focus on the coaching and have me deal with the media. The Marlins made history in 2001 going 14-1, coming one game within playing Lufkin for the Class 5A State Championship.

I don’t know how much longer Seals will continue coaching , but I do know that there isn’t a player that has come through the doors of Madison High School that hasn’t been touched by Ray Seals in some way.