The lives that Waxahachie ISD coach Ronald Siebert hasn’t touched are few and far between.
From current athletic director Greg Reed to former Waxahachie coaches Bill Midkiff and Jerry McLemore, Siebert’s impact spans generations. Siebert passed away Tuesday morning after an eight-month battle with cancer.
Siebert started coaching junior varsity football as an offensive coordinator in 1976 with John Goodner and spent 39 years in WISD athletics. Reed said his memory of the man was as vivid as the day he met him in the seventh grade. He said that his first impression of Siebert was that of “mean and scary,” but by the time he left in eighth grade and when he met him after graduating college, that description changed to “caring and encouraging.”
“He was the reason why I do what I do,” said Reed tearfully. “It was super special to follow him and it’s amazing that one person could see so much potential in you. I just want to follow the exact model he put out there for us. I don’t want to make this about me, but he was the platform that allowed me to be successful. He changed my life.”
In the summer of 1993, after Reed finished school at Stephen F. Austin State University, he came home for the summer and was trying to figure out what he was going to do when Siebert came to him. Siebert recruited him originally as a substitute physical education teacher, but by the end of the semester, Reed was the full-time instructor and helped him in the press box during football games. Siebert and fellow coach Mike Turner found a way to bring him on as a coach – under the title of a spanish teacher – and got him into education courses at Texas A&M University-Commerce.
When Siebert became the head coach for the golf team in 1997, Reed followed in his footsteps and accepted an open junior varsity coordinator position at Waxahachie Junior High School.
“There are people who do things for the community – public servants, community leaders, people that do things directly – but his impact is in the individuals that he affected,” said Reed. “It’s not that you would find him sitting next to you in church every Sunday – although he was there – that’s not the type of community I’m talking about. It’s shown in the thousands of kids and students he taught who now serve Waxahachie.”
Bill Midkiff is one of the most prolific coaches in Waxahachie history, leading the Indians to 428 wins in 19 years while guiding the team to two state tournament appearances, 13 district championships and 16 consecutive playoff appearances. Midkiff, a Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame inductee, called Siebert a city legend.
“He is a legend,” said Midkiff. “When you have a guy who dedicates himself to teaching and coaching at the junior high level for 39 years – not because he didn’t have ambitions to coach varsity – but because he loves kids and getting them off on the right track, you just don’t find guys like that anymore. Nearly everybody nowadays wants to work their way up or gets burned out and leaves after three, four or five years. His passion was those kids. That’s legendary.”
Midkiff met him in 1981 as an incoming freshman JV football coach, but said he immediately saw the impact Siebert had on the youth he was receiving. Midkiff was also one of the last non-family members to speak to him before he passed.
“It was about two weeks ago yesterday that I went to the hospital to see him and he looked like he was really sick,” said Midkiff. “I told Doc Bowdoin and Jerry McLemore that they should go see him. When they came back from seeing him on that Saturday, they said he seemed upbeat, like he had gotten the best of it.
“On Tuesday morning I got a call from Ronnie’s number. I thought that maybe our prayers had kicked in, but when I heard her voice, I knew it wasn’t good.”
Siebert passed away earlier that morning. Terri Siebert, Ronald’s wife, told Midkiff that Siebert hadn’t made it through the night. She said he was at peace and he was ready, but those that remember “Ronnie” best still speak of him as if he is still with those he loved.
In a generation where Midkiff said “common sense isn’t common,” Siebert did the right thing even if it wasn’t popular, cherished the golden rule and lived his life as an example to the youth he lead. Reed’s word’s echoed the same type of gratitude that Midkiff poured out.
“There’s never been anyone around like that before,” said Reed. “He loved the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, it was a big part of his life. We can’t deny the influence of Ron Siebert, the character that he instilled or the legacy that he left — to do what’s right and to face the consequences.”