Steve Gleaves has nearly 40 years of history with Rice Stadium.
Gleaves stepped on the field for the first time with the Rice Owls, but the majority of his time in Rice Stadium has been locked in the SJS-Kinkaid rivalry. After coaching the Falcons’ football team for three years, Gleaves switched schools. His most recent appearance at the Kinkaid Game, Oct. 25, marked his 23rd year as head coach at SJS.
While growing up in Dallas, Gleaves excelled in football, basketball, baseball, tennis and track. He continued to play other sports at Carter High School but was always more drawn to football.
Gleaves was recruited as a running back and chose Rice over offers from Louisiana State University, the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, among others. After becoming an Owl, Gleaves switched to punter and became a four-year football letterman. In 1977, he set the record for most punts in a year (86).
After graduation, Gleaves continued to pursue his football aspirations. He went as a free agent to a Philadelphia Eagles tryout, but after getting cut, Gleaves returned to his hometown. Though he initially declined a coaching position with the Kinkaid Falcons, he subsequently accepted the offer.
Gleaves moved to Houston to start his Falcon coaching career in 1980. He spent 11 years in a variety of positions, working with middle and high school students while coaching football, basketball and tennis.
Marty Thompson, Director of Experiential Education, played against Coach Gleaves in 1989 and 1990, and later served as an assistant coach under Gleaves.
“The little things Gleaves emphasizes are so much more important regarding who his players will become long after they hang up their pads and stop playing football,” Thompson said.
When Kinkaid proposed that Gleaves focus on tennis and give up football, he decided to seek a football coaching position elsewhere. Coach Stobie Whitmore informed Gleaves of a vacancy at SJS. In 1991, Gleaves shed his purple and yellow feathers for the red and black.
“Coach Gleaves has the strength of character and an uncompromising code of conduct that makes everyone around him a better person,” assistant football coach Douglas Sharp said. “He holds everyone associated with the team to high standards of effort and discipline.”
Even coaches from opposing teams acknowledge Gleaves’ strengths.
Episcopal High School football coach Steve Leisz said, “Coach Gleaves is a man with honor as well as incredibly competitive.”
The transition to facing Kinkaid from the opposite side of the field was initially a little tough.
“Being on the other side of the SJS-Kinkaid game was a different transition in that respect,” Gleaves said. “It took a few years getting used to being on the other side.”
Gleaves gradually adjusted and excelled at SJS.
“Both schools are very similar, academically and athletically,” Gleaves said.
In Gleaves’ sixth season at SJS, the team secured his first victory against Kinkaid. The Mavericks have recorded six more wins in subsequent Kinkaid games.
“I love the wins over Kinkaid, but as a coach, the best win was when we won the SPC Championship in 1996 over Casady in Dallas,” Gleaves said.
Coach Gleaves sets an example not only for his players but also for his colleagues.
Assistant coach Alan Paul said, “It’s like working with the coach I want to be one day and the man I hope to become.”
Players respect Coach Gleaves and his dedication to their training.
Captain Wes Wallace said, “During practice, Coach Gleaves does a great job helping us prepare for games and makes us run lots of sprints.”
Gleaves consistently motivates players to perform at their best.
“He has this seriousness that makes everyone want to work harder,” lineman Daniel Jellins said. “He truly embodies ‘Not Without Honor.’”
To his colleagues, Gleaves embodies both athletic talent and sportsmanship.
“Coach Gleaves is a tremendous role model who promotes the core values that are consistent with the mission of SJS,” Athletic Director Vince Arduini said. “He emphasizes what it means to be a part of a team and the importance of representing SJS on the field and in the community.”
In addition to his football coaching responsibilities, Gleaves is also the boys’ tennis coach and Coordinator of Athletic Facilities.
Although Gleaves has coached the Mavericks for 22 years, he still enjoys his occupation.
Gleaves said, “One of the reasons I do this job is to have those exciting times with players and watch them accomplish goals and make memories.”