ALICE, Texas — Joey Heron has been a certified strength and conditioning coach for more than a decade. He has been the strength and conditioning coach for the Alice Independent School District for five years.
When he got to Alice, Heron made one thing his top priority.
“Everything we do is just based on keeping the kids healthy,” he said. “My biggest job, my ultimate goal, is to provide these kids with an experience they’re satisfied with. The health and safety come first. Because the healthier they are, the safer they are and the more time they’re going to spend on the field. Competitive success is hopefully going to come soon after that.”
Heron programs strength and conditioning work for every athlete from seventh to 12th grade in Alice, working first-hand primarily with the male athletes during the school year, and all athletes over the summer.
“It’s hard work,” sophomore football and baseball player Miguel Saenz said. “He will always lead us to be successful, day in and day out.”
“It’s always hard work, it’s never a day off,” junior football and baseball player Matthew Ortiz said. “Coach Heron always wants us to get after it, to be successful on Friday nights and even outside of that, in life in general.”
While working with the athletes, Heron starts off teaching the kids basic workouts, building upon them as they get older.
“I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t a fan (when I was younger) because I thought they were hard,” Ortiz said. “But, as I got older, I learned it’s not an easy road, and you have to put in the hard work to be successful.”
Heron said he wants the lessons he teaches his athletes to extend beyond the playing field.
“Hopefully they can take some lessons they learned in our strength and conditioning program as they leave, and these can become lifelong habits,” he said. “The things we do out here, the progress we make, the success we have here, will translate in there; in the classroom.”
The Coyote athletes say Heron makes it easy for them.
“Some of us are tired, some of us are not in the mood to lift weights. But the energy he brings, and everyone else brings, it’s all contagious,” Ortiz said.
But Heron said it’s the athletes who make it easy for him.
“These kids show up every day, and they are ready to get after it,” he said. “They’re willing to work, they’re going to do whatever you say and they’re going to do it with the right amount of intent and focus. They’re going to learn something from every rep.”
Heron was named the State Coach of the Year by the National High School Strength Coaches Association for the state of Texas. He was nominated by a fellow member, and the work he puts into the Alice facilities secured him the award.
“It’s an honor, to say the least, but especially here in Texas. It’s kind of the Mecca of strength and conditioning. There are great strength coaches all throughout the state, there are a lot of them,” he said. "So, to bring this home, it really means a lot.”
While he is honored to receive the award, Heron said he alone, is not responsible for the award.
“I got the award, or whatever, but really and truly, the credit deserves to be given to our kids, our coaches and everyone who has offered me advice over the years,” he said.