The following story appeared in Friday eNews – HISD’s weekly e-newsletter. Click here to subscribe and you’ll receive a roundup of the week’s top headlines, plus personal stories like this one and other interactive features.
In this week’s I am HISD, which features HISD graduates and HISD employees, former HISD Athletic Director and Reagan High School alumnus Joe Tusa talks about his 37 years with the district. On November 3, HISD officially renamed the district’s Northside sports complex the Delmar-Tusa Athletic Complex in honor of Tusa, who is HISD’s longest serving athletic director.
Q: Were you always interested in sports and coaching?
A: I played football and baseball while attending Reagan High School and then went on to play football for the University of Houston and for Rice University. I knew in high school that I wanted to become a coach because I saw and experienced firsthand how they can influence the lives of children. After college, I came back to Reagan and worked as an assistant coach.
Q: You led HISD successfully through the desegregation of its sports programs. Why do you think Houston was more successful than other cities in the south?
A: We really did a lot of pre-planning and a lot of work in the community before we began the process. My staff and I went out every weekend to talk to churches, civic groups and parents. It also helped that we had three central stadiums where schools met for games, rather than playing at the individual campuses.
Q: What is the biggest misconception about those who work in athletics?
A: People don’t realize that we are always working. When I was the district’s athletic director, my staff and I came to work daily at 8 a.m. then at 5 p.m. we went off to work the games. We also work most weekends and holiday breaks. You have to have a very supportive spouse to work in athletics.
Q: HISD just named a stadium after you. How does that make you feel?
A: I really am deeply honored. I’ve heard that quite a few of my former students and players at Reagan lobbied on my behalf. I want to say thank you to them because it really means a lot to me and my family.
Q: How are you spending your retirement?
A: My wife and I owned a small ranch in East Texas with registered cattle for several years, but we sold the place in 2004. I am on several boards, am active in church, and I work out at the YMCA three times a week — 30 minutes on the treadmill, and I have up to 12 machines I work out on.
If you know an HISD graduate or HISD employee who should be featured in I am HISD, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.