Melvin Houston tried retiring from coaching a couple of times: in 2002, after an 18-year run as Coronado girls cross country and track and field coach, and in 2014 after five years in the same position at Monterey.
But the itch to coach never leaves him. Even now, at 78, Houston volunteers his help to Coronado coach Tim Torres and continues to work with the Lubbock summer track program, training young distance runners for three decades.
"I love cross country and track and field," he said. "I still can't get it out of my system."
Houston came to Lubbock in 1979 and his years of service will be acknowledged on Saturday with his induction into the Lubbock ISD Athletic Hall of Honor. He was working as a part-time substitute at Joan Ervin Elementary when he was notified of his inclusion a few months ago.
"When they called me and said, 'You have been elected,' I started crying," he said. "I went over to the teacher and put my head on her shoulder."
Six individuals and two teams who will be inducted during ceremonies at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Memorial Civic Center.
"I'm very excited, and I'm very nervous," Houston said.
The Brownwood native and San Antonio Brackenridge graduate ran the quarter mile and relays on three NAIA national championship teams at Texas Southern in the early 1960s. He came to Lubbock from El Paso Riverside in 1979.
Then-Lubbock ISD assistant athletic director Hollis Gainey didn't have a coaching job to offer right away, so Houston spent the first year as an intramurals director at Coronado. He then served as a Coronado girls basketball and track and field assistant for four years before becoming head girls cross country and track coach from 1985-2002.
Then came another half-dozen years working with tennis coach Jim Carter at Coronado and Monterey. That invitation struck him as strange.
"I turned him down twice," Houston said. "I said, 'They want me to come work with tennis? I don't even know how to score the game.' But coach Carter said, 'Don't worry about it. I just like the way you work with kids and can talk with kids.'"
Houston said he's always been active. In his early years as a cross country coach, he'd knock out 5-mile runs with the athletes he was coaching.
"I could work with them, talk to them, helping them get through the pain and develop the mental toughness and the strong desire to compete," he said. "I was able to help them — those that were really wanting to do it — develop."
Houston turns 79 in March, the middle of high school track season, and he can be found at the track. He's been volunteer coach for Torres' program for the past four seasons, and plans to keep going.
"As long as my health holds up and I continue to enjoy it, I will," he said.
LISD Hall of Honor
What: 2018 induction banquet
When: 6 p.m. Saturday
Where: Memorial Civic Center
Inductees: Melvin Houston, Coronado cross country and track coach (1985-2002); James Mosley, Estacado football player (1966-69); J.J. Johnson, Coronado softball coach (1998-2017); Gerald Myers, Monterey basketball coach (1960-67); Thomas Klement, Lubbock High swimmer (1993-95); Bill Dean, Lubbock ISD athletics supporter; Dunbar 1962 state champion basketball team; Monterey 1974 state champion baseball team.