Coach Sam Harvey grew up a Sweetwater Mustang but after 30 years of coaching, counseling and administrating at Wylie, it’s safe to say he’s now a Wylie Bulldog.
Harvey was added to the Wylie Hall of Honor at Homecoming, with former students John Fanning and Wylie Superintendent Joey Light doing the induction honors.
“He loved us,” Light told the group at the ceremony. “He shared many traits with us – honesty, loyalty. He taught us a great deal. He instilled a loyalty for us that I never lost. I want you to know, Coach Harvey, the impact you had on a lot of people and how fortunate we were to have had you.”
Harvey played basketball and football at Sweetwater and was 1st team all district and 1st team all region in basketball. He coached in several places, including Abilene’s Lincoln Junior High, Sweetwater, Roby and Hobbs before his father’s declining health forced him to move his family to Abilene to be closer to his parents.
He looked for a job in the classifieds and saw an opening for a basketball coach at Wylie.
Light was a student at Wylie in 1976 when Harvey began coaching. The school was changing classifications and was expecting a tough time in sports. But Light said Harvey was up to the challenge.
“We moved up in classification, and we were immediately competitive,” Light said.
Harvey said he made some wonderful friendships at Wylie. One of his fellow coaches was like a brother to him, and he loved the boys on his basketball team, particularly Fanning and Light.
“Joey was the first one I met,” he said. “If I had had sons instead of daughters, I would have wanted them to be just like them. The kids in that bunch were the best. Good athletes and good boys.”
Harvey coached for six years before deciding to step down and become a Wylie counselor.
“My daughter was a really good basketball player,” he said.
“I wanted to see her play. That was the main thing.”
Harvey said he loved being a counselor because he could help kids.
“I related to the kids,” he said. “They all liked me and responded to me.”
In 1993, Harvey retired from counseling and became the district’s testing coordinator until 2007 when he officially retired. Harvey said he was shocked when he learned he was going into the Hall of Honor.
“I said, ‘Oh my Lord,’ and I started bawling like a baby,” he said. “That’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me in my 44 years of teaching.”
When Harvey posted about the honor on Facebook, 128people commented to wish him well.
“I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this honor,” one person wrote. “Your influence on students extended beyond the field and classrooms.”
Another wrote, “Not only do you deserve it but you have earned it. You have been instrumental in a lot of our lives. And we thank you for it.”
Light said students connected with Harvey because of his sincerity.
“He was so real in everything he did,” Light said. “He was sincere. He loved the people that he was working with. You just can’t fake that.”
Harvey now lives in Sweetwater with his wife Doris. They have two daughters, three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren and three rowdy cats. Harvey said he would never forget the wonderful day he spent at the induction ceremony or his many years spent at Wylie.
“I will never forget the Wylie Bulldogs,” he said. “I grew up in Sweetwater, but when I left here, I was a full-blown Wylie Bulldog. And the Sweetwater Mustangs? Well I wish you well.”