Q&A: Woodrow athletic director Bobby Estes

Boby Estes Photo by BENJAMIN HAGER

Bobby Estes started as athletic director and head football coach at Woodrow Wilson High School in 1998, when the school’s athletic programs were struggling. Since then, Estes and his coaching staff have improved athletic programs at Woodrow across the board. We sat down with him recently to talk about the upcoming school year.

Since 1998, you’ve had some pretty exciting athletes come through Woodrow.

Yes. Sergio Kindle [who now plays for the Baltimore Ravens] is probably our most famous. And then in basketball, we’ve had Anthony Randolph [who now plays for the Minnesota Timberwolves]. And we had Greg McCoy, who plays [football] for TCU now. We’ve been very fortunate that some great kids have rolled through Woodrow Wilson.

Woodrow has had a lot of success in sports lately.

We’re one of the most successful programs in Dallas ISD. We’ve been a playoff team [in football] for seven out of the last nine seasons. When I got to Woodrow Wilson, they had not had great success. They were in a down cycle, and since 2003, we’ve been in the playoffs all but two years, and even in those two years, we were 5-5, and we were playing for a spot in the playoffs up to the last ballgame. For the last two years, every sport has either gone to regionals — tennis, golf, wrestling, track and cross-country — or we’ve gone to the playoffs — football, basketball, volleyball. Our soccer teams have been very successful. Stephanie Martin won state three years ago in the breaststroke. Grace Choi went to the state golf tournament just recently.

It’s a public school, so obviously you don’t recruit athletes.

No. There’s no draft. We always joke about that. The reputation of your program and your school attracts kids, and we’ve been fortunate that Woodrow Wilson is really a neat school. It’s an urban school in a neighborhood setting. We have a really good choir program, and our extracurricular activities are appealing. Because of that, we’re not just a football school. We’re not just a basketball school or an athletics school. If you want to have a good overall high school experience, Woodrow Wilson provides that.

What is the most important aspect of your athletic programs?

We’re trying to educate or coach the entire kid versus just the athlete. The Sergio Kindles and the Greg McCoys don’t come along that often. We want the athletic experience to be a building block for what the student is going to be as an adult.

There is a lot of crossover between sports. Kids who play football also play golf, for example. Tell us more about that.

Our school has 1,300 kids, and only 20 percent play sports, which is a lot for an urban school. But for us to be successful, our best athletes have to compete in other sports, especially the girls. If you’re good enough to shoot a basketball, you’re a good enough athlete to swing a golf club. The more things they do, the more experiences they have. And they get to hear a different voice. It produces more adult role models for you. You might not be listening to me any more, but you listen to the basketball coach or the track coach. We’re not preparing for the next NFL player, but we do hope that someday those guys will be doctors and lawyers and school board members and city councilmen. The cool thing about Woodrow Wilson is that we have coaches who understand that. We’re trying to enhance their education, not develop them into pro athletes.

Football practices start in August. Are you excited about your team this year?

Oh, yes. Every year, you’re excited. I guess, being a Texas Rangers fan, every year I think we’re going to win the World Series. But we’ve got some great kids coming back. Piers Christian is coming back as our quarterback. Andre Plata is in his senior year, and he’s one of the best athletes at Woodrow. Although we lost some really good football players, who are now going to be playing college football, we’ve got some great players returning, so the foundation blocks are there for a great season.

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Rachel Stone
RACHEL STONE is the Oak Cliff editor. Email rstone@advocatemag.com or follow twitter.com/advocate_oc.