Donna Vacek to retire as Lady Oilers roundball coach

PEARLAND — It is hard to believe that Pearland girls basketball coach Donna Vacek has been roaming the sideline for 19 years at PHS. Vacek recently announced that she is going to step down as the head coach and will officially retire in December of 2016.

"I knew that I was eligible to retire in 2016, but I always thought I would continue to coach until I didn't love it anymore," Vacek recently said. "This past summer, when my dad was in a coma from his stroke, my whole thought process was nothing but for my family.

"The fact that he is still alive is a miracle. But the 87-year-old man who mowed yards and did everything like most 60-year-olds, now needs 24-hour help as well as my mom."

Vacek is a native of Victoria, Texas. She earned a B.S. degree in Biology and Physical Education from Southwest Texas State University.

Vacek has been coaching for 28 years. Nine of those years was at Shiner High School and she has been the head coach at Pearland High School for 19 years. She has an overall coaching mark of 449-219.

"The day that our basketball season started with a bus trip, I knew when I got on the bus that my mind was not focused on basketball, but with my parents," Vacek said. "That made my decision easy to decide to retire."

Vacek considers being in Pearland for the past 19 years a real blessing.

"Coaches come here and stay here because of the administration we work for and the administration that works for us," Vacek pointed out. "They go hand in hand. It's because of the coaches and teachers I work with that make you feel like a family and enjoy coming to work."

However, Vacek has had an impact in the lives of her coaching staff and players for almost two decades.

Vacek came to Pearland in the Spring of 1996. She had spent her previous nine years coaching at Shiner

“This program had won five games the previous year, but we had some kids that worked really hard and wanted to win,” Vacek said. “We won that first game over Clear Brook, and you would have thought we won the state championship.

"Not all of the girls were dripping with athleticism, but they worked like animals and displayed such character that made you proud to walk in a gym with them."

Vacek also recalled another memorable game when the Lady Oilers beat North Shore in 2002 in double overtime in the regional quarterfinals

"I still have a copy of that game and will always keep it," Vacek said.

The veteran coach still has a fresh memory when Pearland beat Clear Springs last year in the quarterfinals to advance to the regional tournament.

"Truly the most intense, athletic, back and forth heart-stopping game ever," Vacek said.

Vacek then turned her thoughts once again to her parents.

"Married 63 years, I've never seen them argue, except when dad would track in mud on a clean floor," Vacek said with a big smile. "Their caring souls to every person they came in contact with always amazes me.

"They taught me that we are so blessed with what we have and that so many many people are less fortunate. I've learned to take nothing for granted and give thanks for everything."

Vacek's dad is at home now, in a wheelchair, and has 24-hour nursing help along with Vacek's mother.

"His dementia and confusion is heart-breaking," Vacek said. "Here's a man, who before his stroke, could remember everything about my childhood and his. And now, he can't remember my name sometimes.

"But he's still my daddy and I'll always be his little girl. And being able to retire to spend as much time possible with him and mom is the best retirement I could ask for."

"Coach Vacek is sincerely appreciated for all her years of commitment and dedication to Pearland ISD and athletics," said Pearland ISD athletic director Ben Pardo. "She and her staffs have had a significant impact on the basketball program during her tenure. It is with a heartfelt thank you that we say goodbye. We wish her the very best in her retirement."