May 26, 2006
Wylie High School football coach and Abilene Christian University alum Hugh Sandifer (’78) received ACU’s Distinguished Alumni Citation in front of his fellow faculty members, staff and family at Wylie High School’s staff assembly on Friday, May 26. The presentation was a surprise to Sandifer.
In addition to being Wylie High School’s head football coach for the past 20 years, he is also president of the Texas High School Football Coaches Association. With a record of 168-69-4, Sandifer led Wylie to its first state title in 2004.
“Winning the state championship was awesome, but the way the team approached it made it even more gratifying. That attitude is what we’ve spent the last 20 years trying to instill into our program,” Sandifer said.
“I don’t want to take credit for getting more out of kids than what they have to give,” Sandifer said. “We’ve established a program where kids in this community want to grow up and be a Bulldog on Friday nights.
“We won the state championship in 2004, but I associate that win with every kid I’ve ever coached. That team represented all of the Wylie teams before them. Those kids grasped that tradition that night, and that’s what stands out,” he said.
Sandifer never thought he would be a high school football coach in a small West Texas town. When he and his wife, Brenda Bowen (’80), got married they thought they would be off on their life’s adventure. In 1979 Sandifer signed a one-year contract to coach at Wylie, located in southern Abilene.
“The thrill of being with young kids was there immediately, and it’s never left me,” he said.
Sandifer is a strong force on and off of the field.
“He instills in them a great sense of who they represent,” said Wylie superintendent Don Harrison (’75). “I don’t know of anyone better than Hugh to represent our school district, students, and community.”
Even after 20 years, the thrill is still there for Sandifer.
“Everybody who knows me knows that the greatest thing for me is that I get to wear shorts to work every day and still have fun,” he said. “But this is a very humbling award. I owe a lot to ACU. It gave me my wife and an opportunity to do what I love to do.
“I left ACU once and then went back,” Sandifer said. “I’m often asked why I went back, and I tell them it’s because I never met people like I met at Abilene Christian. People who are genuine in their friendships and love for you are rare in this world, but that’s who I found at ACU.”
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