If you look at Gonzales’ new athletic director/head football coach Mike Waldie’s job title, you notice the phrase “athletic director” is first. In an interview with the Inquirer, Waldie made it a point to emphasize that title over head football coach.
“My first job, and that’s why the title is that way, is athletic director,” Waldie said. “That’s why I hire great people and great coordinators, because there’s times the ‘AD’ duties override the football.”
Waldie’s resume as a coordinator and as a head coach has many highlights. A record of 143-69 as a coordinator, a 34-29 record including district championships in the 2016, 2017 and 2018 seasons, the head of the Apache program has a long list of accomplishments. Yet what’s more important to him is for the entire program to be great, not just one sport.
“To be really great, we have to be good at everything,” he said. “I don’t believe in one-sport athlete and I don’t believe in a one-sport town. We don’t want to be a football town or a basketball town or a girls volleyball town, for that matter, actually. We want people to say Gonzales is great at everything. So when those things happen, I feel like I’ve done both of my jobs.”
Waldie has been the athletic director and head football coach in Daingerfield, Woodville and Luling. He’s been a college coach as well as a coordinator in various spots such as Nacogdoches, Cleveland, Mount Pleasant, Jacksonville and, most recently, Pearland. What brought Waldie to Gonzales is not only the opportunity to build a long, sustaining program, but a chance to lay down some roots after a decade or two of moving around.
“I think after 23 years chasing, and I did that early in my career, I’d be the first one to tell you that I took jobs trying to get other jobs,” Waldie admitted. “I had a vision, I don’t know what that vision was, of where I wanted to be. Then somewhere along the road with four children and the best wife in the world, I realized that’s not always the exact way to approach things.”
Starting his coaching career with a college job at an early age, Waldie knew that coaching at that level meant “changing states, not just area codes or zip codes,” he noted.
“Finally settled after that first decade or so to come back to Texas, and I’ve been back here full-time since 2004,” Waldie continued. “It’s been a fun ride.”
After all that moving around, Waldie and his wife decided to map out an area where they’d be interested in raising their family. When the Gonzales job opened, Waldie saw this as an opportunity to be near his wife’s family, who is originally from Corpus Christi and spent her “young adult years in San Antonio as a professional, before she became an educator,” Waldie said.
“Eight to 10 days before being announced here, I wasn't actively involved in the process in Gonzales, if you want to know the truth,” he said. “It went quick, and relationship with [Gonzales ISD Superintendent] Dr. [Kim] Strozier, a past respect for Ricky Lock and what he did while he was here and the type of person that he was and how his teams played, Coach [Kodi] Crane, reaching out to him and learning a little bit about the style and type of coach he is, all those factors kind of rolled into one and became a situation that Gonzales was something we wanted to take a harder look at.”
On the field, Waldie has coached both sides of the field. Early on, he focused more on defense, having played defense in college and coordinated defense for 16 seasons at multiple universities and high schools. But when he got his first head coach job in Luling, Waldie only knew defensive guys, so that’s who he hired.
“Everybody I knew and trusted were defensive guys,” Waldie said. “So those were the people that I hired. I looked around and it’s like, who’s going to coach the offense? All of a sudden, I became the offensive guy. I’ve fallen in love with offense where I coach it like I did defense. I know the things that we don’t like to see defensively and I know the things that give us trouble defensively and that’s really all we focus on offensively.”
For those interested in the X’s and O’s, the Apaches are expected to run a power spread offense and what’s called the Katy 50, a version of an odd-front, or 3-4 defense. Waldie expects to shape is offense around the talent he has, though that process won’t fully form until August. But overall, the team is expected to be balanced, even though looking at tape at different schools he’s been in, the untrained eye may not feel like his offenses were that balanced.
“If you ask other people, ‘they chunk it around at Pearland.’ Well we did, with J.D. Head,” Waldie said of his starting quarterback last season, “but we still ran the football and I believe no matter what your talent level is, you got to be balanced. So even if we’re a heavy run-oriented football team because of our talent level, we got to find a way to throw the football. Just have to. That’ll be our goal. Our goal is not balance for touches, our goal is not balance for 25 runs to 25 passes, our goal is to be balanced that you have to defend them both. If you don’t have to defend the pass or don’t have to defend the run, you’re not a balanced football team, I don’t care what the numbers say, it’s how the defense attacks you.”
In a perfect world, Waldie wants to be the CEO of the Gonzales Apaches and give his coordinators the power to call plays on both sides of the ball. He wants to truly be a game manager, making sure he’s dealing with clock management, personnel, officials, injuries and those all-important in-game adjustments that are the “key to victories,” he said.
“At the end of the day, it’s not an ego thing, it’s just the truth, if I’m ever going to go down somewhere, I’m going to go down my way,” Waldie said. “If you follow my career, we’ve won everywhere we’ve been. I don’t mean that to be an egotistical statement, it’s just, I believe in our process and I believe in our system and everywhere we’ve been, we’ve won.”
Winning is going to take a committed staff. Since Waldie officially started on Monday, any decisions made in reference to the coaching staff, whether it’s a head coach job or a third assistant position, will be made for the ultimate purpose of winning the UIL’s Lone Star Cup, a cup awarded to high schools based on their team performances in district and state championships.
“We need great head coaches, we need great assistant coaches, we need people to understand their roles,” Waldie explained. “We got to share athletes and we got to be multi-sport athletes. One-sport athletes in Gonzales are not going to get along with Coach Waldie. Plain and simple. Find something else to do. There’s time in the year.”
Waldie also challenged the community to be more involved in athletics through organizations such as the booster club.
“We have the same group of people in every community that I’ve been to, there’s usually about half a dozen, no matter where you go, that do all the work,” he said, “and they can’t do it alone. If you want your child to be great and you want this community to get to the next level, get involved, and it starts with booster club.”
Waldie brings with him to Gonzales wife Amy, an educator, daughter Kelly Brynn and sons Bodie Luke and Brooks Landry. His oldest, Wesley Brock Waldie, graduated from Woodville High School and is a student assistant at Missouri Valley University.