Cyril Adkins, ’99

The Smithville High School Tigers came closer to a championship than an end run on the 1-yard line, but Cyril Adkins (B.E.S.S. ’99), the school’s athletic director and head football coach, is proud of his team.

“It was a hard-fought season,” Adkins says of his 7-5 Tigers. “We were three points away from being the district champions. We finished as the bi-district champions, which made for the first football playoff victory in school history since 1965.”

Adkins gets the same electric rush when he runs onto the football field with his team that he felt at Texas State University or even back in high school, when he played wide receiver for the Smithville Tigers more than 25 years ago.

“I’m all fired up and ready to go,” Adkins says with a smile. “It’s game time and I’m firing up my players. I’m their energy guy, and it’s my way of letting them know they’re much more important to me than whoever we’re playing.”

“It starts by coaching out of respect, not out of fear. When you coach out of respect, you get more out of kids. They know I believe in them, and they don’t want to let me down.”

In the late 1990s, Adkins was a wide receiver for the Bobcats, played basketball, and was on the track team. He says a definite highpoint of his time at the university was meeting his wife, Maria Adkins (B.S. ’99). The couple has three children and makes their home in Smithville, some 60 miles from the San Marcos Campus.

After graduating with a bachelor of exercise and sports science, Adkins began coaching basketball and football for the Bastrop ISD. He returned to Smithville in 2008 and was named athletic director in 2014. He is proud of being named the first African American athletic director for Smithville ISD and calls himself a trailblazer. “But at the end of the day, I want to be known as the best athletic director, not the first African American.” He pauses a moment to reflect, before adding, “My dad always told me to be the best and compete with everybody. He never let me look at a person’s color. He just told me to always do my best.”

The key to winning, Adkins says, is getting his team energized. “When I was named coach, I inherited the third worst program in the region, but we’re turning things around,” he says.

His secret?

“It starts by coaching out of respect, not out of fear. When you coach out of respect, you get more out of kids. They know I believe in them, and they don’t want to let me down.”

His strategy seems to be working, as the Tigers were one whiff away from smelling total victory. Last year, they went 5-6 and in 2017, the squad was 7-3 and had one of the top offenses in the state, while the junior varsity and freshman teams finished their seasons undefeated. “Good athletes need to be competitive and self- motivated,” he says. “They may need a little encouragement, but they have to feel like they never want to be defeated.

“I love getting the most out of kids. Some don’t see enough of themselves. Once you get that winning feeling out of them, they won’t just use it in sports; they’ll use it to get the most out of life. It’ll make them better citizens.”

As a youngster, Adkins says he was small for his age and had little athletic ability. What he did have was faith in himself. He says he worked hard because he loved sports. As a high school student, he added height and muscle tone, and developed into a three-year letterman in football and baseball, and a four-year letterman in basketball and track. He was also a state champion triple jumper.

“I try to get back to Texas State at least once a year, for football games,” he says. “I have two sons that go there now.” Adkins enjoys attending the homecoming football games and remembering the days he’d take the field for the Bobcats. Today, Adkins is an active member of the “T” Association — former Texas State letter winners who promote and support Athletics. He also participates in the association’s annual flag football game.

Adkins is thankful for those who have contributed to his success, adding, “My spiritual beliefs are important to me, and I try to be the best person I can be. God is the reason I’m successful.”

Story written by Benjamin Gleisser and originally published in the Spring 2020 issue of Hillviews magazine.

Cyril Adkins