Closing One Chapter, Writing Another
Beverly Humphrey has been in the national spotlight for many years as arguably the best high school track coach in the country.
Now, she just wants to be there when her husband, Chuck, gets home at the end of each day.
“I’m wanting to be home to greet him. I cook three times a year and I want to do a little more of that,” she said.
Humphrey recently announced her retirement as both high school girls track coach and athletic director from the Lancaster ISD.
“I started seriously thinking about it three years ago, but a year passed, then another and another,” she said. “I thought a lot about it last year and I found myself giving more power and teaching responsibilities to other people.”
Along leading a powerhouse track program, Humphrey stayed almost around-the-clock busy as athletic director. While it was a job she loved, it was also one that began to wear on the 67-year-old.
“Going to all the home games, playoff games, along with all the administrative duties, it was taking a toll on me – and trying to coach at the same time made it very hard,” she said. “I love the kids and I will always support them, but it was just time to step away.”
She left a legacy of 13 state track championships, including eight consecutive from 2001-08. Her teams have won 32 consecutive district championships (34 if you count the two she won before leaving Greenville to come to Lancaster). In all, her teams won 37 district track championships in Greenville and Lancaster.
Forecasting Her Own Success
Humphrey recalled once being interviewed by a sports writer in Greenville. She told him she wanted to win 10 state championships.
“I just knew I wanted to be a winner,” she said. “I had no idea we’d win 13, but I knew I just wanted to win. It’s inside of me and I’ve worked hard to instill it in every one of my athletes.
“After we’d win state, by 2 or 3 in the morning I’d already be looking at ways we could win it again.”
Humphrey is in almost every hall of fame you can imagine, including Texas Sports Black Hall of Fame, the Texas Track and Field Hall of Fame, the Texas Girls Coaches Association Hall of Fame, and the Prairie View Interscholastic League Coaches Association Hall of Honor.
Oh, and the stadium in Lancaster is named after her, one of only two named after a high school track coach in the state. The other, ironically is T.A. “Cotton” Ford Stadium in Greenville, where Humphrey got her start at Greenville Middle School.
Humphrey enjoyed success at Greenville before coming to Lancaster in 1988 as a physical education teacher and head girls track and volleyball coach – another sport in which she hugely successful. Humphrey’s volleyball teams compiled a 457-156 record with 14 playoff appearances, including a regional finals appearance in which they fell to perennially power Red Oak.
Raised To Be A Winner
“I was raised to be a winner,” Humphrey said. “Whatever I chose, I was going to put every ounce into winning, I got that from my parents.
“Also, my college coach, Barbara Jackett (at Prairie View A&M), there were some things she did that I took with me, including the deep desire to help all kids be great citizens.”
For all her accomplishments on the field and the court, which includes winning a college national championship in the 200 meters and competing at the U.S. Olympic Trials, she is most proud of showing youngsters the way to a productive life.
“I remember I missed one college practice and she (Jackett) made me run twice as much the next day – and she called my mom. I didn’t miss another practice,” Humphrey said. “Things have changed, but the rules haven’t. Follow them and success awaits, both in sports and in the world.
“My greatest accomplishment is those girls graduating college.”
Breaking A Barrier As Athletic Director
When Humphrey was named athletic director in 2004 she was one of the few female ADs in the state. Under her leadership Lancaster excelled in sports across the board, winning several individual and team state championships.
“Her winning legacy is a testament to her unwavering dedication and tireless efforts within Lancaster ISD’s athletic program. Her retirement is truly the end of an era, and she should be proud.” Lancaster ISD Superintendent Dr. Katrise Perera said. “I witnessed her ability to inspire and guide our student-athletes with her exceptional coaching prowess and unmatched passion. Her pursuit of excellence has set a standard that will continue to inspire future generations of athletes and coaches.”
When the stadium was renamed in her honor is another of Humphrey’s greatest memories, she said.
“The look in my mother’s eyes, I’ll never forget, the tears streaming down her face and mine,” she said.
Being Selfless, Developing Character In Her Players
Twice Humphrey’s Lancaster teams shared state championships, in 2010 with Houston Westbury and in 2021 with Fort Bend Marshall. Each time she and her team opted to let the other team take home the championship trophy.
“It was the right thing to do. We had plenty of state championship trophies at home,” she said. “Those other coaches and kids, it was their first time and I was not going to rob those kids of that bus ride home with that trophy.”
How did Humphrey do it? She started by making her athletes feel like winners before they took their first step on a track or court.
“You have the kids dress well, take them to a nice restaurant to eat, all those little things make a difference,” she said. “And every kid is going to feel worthy and have some of my time.
“I helped develop a confidence in those girls I coached. The encouragement I gave them every single day, it was to help them go on to do a lot more than just be great athletes. I have a story with each and every one.”
Humphrey does her best to keep up with what each of her former athletes are doing, and she regularly hears from them.
“They’ll call and say, ‘I found my Mr. Humphrey.’ I feel like I’ve given them a small floor plan for a great life and that I can be that person they can come to with things in their life,” she said.
As she looks back over many years of success, one season stands out above all, Humphrey said.
“Winning the first state championship, a moment stopped in time. I couldn’t believe it. Coaches had to tell me over and over that we had really won,” she recalled.
Coach’s Words of Wisdom For Young Coaches
Humphrey’s advice to young coaches and to whomever takes over for her?
“If you really want to win, develop all your athletes. You can’t coach ready to go,” she said. “Cover every single base, not some of the time, but all the time. You’re going to miss some reunions and some other things, but that’s part of being successful.”
As for the future, she and her husband plan to do some traveling, which includes now being able to go to reunions, seeing her cousins and god-daughters. Humphrey is an only child.
She also plans to spend more time working on her yard, which she said she already has “looking beautiful.”
And, of course, continuing to keep up with her beloved Tigers.
“Everything about Lancaster means the world to me,” she said. “And it always will.”