Northside ISD executive athletic director Stan Laing didn’t have to go far to find a new head football coach and boys athletic coordinator for Stevens High School.
Conrad Hernandez was already on campus as he's been serving on the Falcons’ coaching staff since Stevens opened in 2005. The Falcons’ offensive coordinator the past two seasons, Hernandez was promoted Friday to succeed Darryl Hemphill, who resigned earlier this month to become NISD assistant athletic director.
Hemphill was head coach at Stevens for four seasons, following Lee Bridges, the first football coach in the Falcons history. Hernandez, 43, is a head coach for the first time in his 19-year career.
“Ever since I can remember, I always wanted to be a coach,” Hernandez said. “It was kind of a natural calling for me. To me, it’s not a job. I really believe in what we do at Northside. I believe in the direction that Coach Laing has given us and the foundation he has provided. It’s a great opportunity to accept this role.
“At the same time, it’s very humbling because my two biggest mentors are Darryl and Lee. I got to work for those two guys and I can’t thank them for all the tools they gave me to be confident enough to take this job now.”
Hernandez has worked for NISD since 1999. He graduated from NISD school Holmes in 1992 and was a teacher and coach at NISD middle schools Connally and Luna for six years after earning his degree at UTSA in December 1997. Hernandez began his career at Rhodes Middle School at SAISD in August 1998.
“The Stevens athletic program had a great reputation under Lee’s direction and Darryl stepped in and continued the success,” Laing said. “With Conrad being on that staff, there was no reason to go a different direction.
“In addition to Conrad, that entire coaching staff does a great job, not just in football, but in all the sports. Just to maintain some continuity in that community, Conrad was just a perfect fit to step in.”
A San Antonio native, Hernandez was a wide receiver on the Holmes football team and also ran track for the Huskies. His track coach was Hemphill, who was an assistant football coach under Gary West.
“I always admired my coaches,” Hernandez said. “As I started to figure out what I wanted to do, I put in time going to schools when I was in college, just hanging around and being a sponge. I love the athletic side of it, but coaches wear many hats.
“Not only at Stevens, but at all Northside schools, we all make sure to pay it forward for our kids. It’s funny how my relationship with Coach Hemphill has come full circle. For him to be a mentor to me all those years and then a colleague, it’s an honor for me to say he’s also a good friend.”
Hemphill went 26-18 in his four seasons at Stevens, leading the Falcons to the playoffs in 2014 and 2015. Stevens lost in the second round both years. After going 8-4 and 9-3 in 2014 and 2015, respectively, the Falcons slipped to 4-6 last season.
Stevens has had good participation in its conditioning program for boys and girls in all sports this summer, Hernandez said.
“We’ve had 300-plus kids at our strength camp,” he noted. “We run two sessions starting at 7:30 in the morning. The kids are working hard and getting acclimated. They work, and that’s all we can ask for.”