UIL Celebrates 100 Years
At age 100, the University Interscholastic League (UIL) is still breaking records, making memories, and challenging Texas students to do their best.
The organization’s centennial celebration got under way June 14–16 with the Elite 100 Student Leadership Conference. The conference brought together the best and brightest students in the state to share their ideas with the UIL Legislative Council about how the league can continue its high standard of excellence in the future.
“The Elite 100 Conference is more than just a chance for our youth to learn from us. It is a chance for us to learn from them,” said Dr. Charles Breithaupt, executive director of the UIL. “This conference allows us the unique opportunity to interact directly with the students from all over the state to formulate new ideas about how the UIL can continue to thrive in the next century.”
Students and council members alike ceremoniously wielded gavels to kick off the centennial year with a promise toward the future. “I really do feel like we had a role in shaping the future of the UIL,” said Corpus Christi Calallen High School student Sean Ponce. “I hope the improvements do make a difference, and I hope that will help the UIL to progress.”
“Not only did the conference celebrate the centennial of the UIL, but maybe more importantly, it brought together the best and brightest from across Texas who left a significant mark on the vision and the mission of the premier student activities organization in the United States for the next century.”
— Dr. Curtis Culwell, Superintendent, Garland ISD, and Member of Legislative Council
In 1909, the UIL was created by The University of Texas at Austin through the Extension Bureau to provide leadership and guidance to public school debate and athletics teachers. Because of UIL’s strong commitment to community engagement and working with schools throughout Texas, the league became part of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement in 2007. Over time, the league has grown into the largest interschool organization of its kind in the world and has been witness to and part of many national historical events of the past century.
In 1940, music contests were suspended due to World War II. The first women’s sport, basketball, was added in 1951, decades prior to Title IX. And in 1954, well before any court orders, the State Executive Committee ruled that desegregated public schools could participate in UIL competitions, and later opened membership to all schools regardless of race.
Although not every year brings such historic significance, each new season produces surprises and firsts, such as this last
Cancer survivor and senior drum major Alec Gramann’s wish was to perform at the 2008 UIL State Marching Band Contest. Through the volunteer coordination of UIL State Director of Music Richard Floyd and the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Central & South Texas, he got his wish. On November 3, Gramann and his Austin LBJ Jaguar Band performed in front of a crowd of over 10,000 and received a standing ovation for the powerful exhibition.
Houston Nimitz’s Brittney Griner broke several records against Pflugerville at the 2009 UIL Girls State Basketball Tournament—none was more impressive than being the first girl ever to dunk in a Texas state basketball tournament. Griner’s Cougars may have lost to Mansfield Summit in the championship game, but her athletic feat stands as a monumental stepping-stone in the evolution of girls’ high school athletics.
No event was bigger in the 2008–2009 school year than on April 29 when the UIL postponed all activities due to the H1N1 virus outbreak, otherwise known as swine flu. For the first time ever, schools were not allowed to participate in extracurricular activities statewide.
UIL directors and staff worked fervently with schools to reschedule previously postponed, or in some cases cancelled, events. Everything, including the State Academic Meet, the 20 regional track meets, and the state track meet had to be re-scheduled. Thanks to the efforts of the UIL staff and its schools, all events were conducted.
“We are very proud to be a part of the UIL’s ample history and are excited to share in the celebration of our 100th anniversary with our students and member schools,” said Dr. Breithaupt.
State championship events will serve as the backdrop for many of the planned celebrations for the UIL’s anniversary. Special uniform patches and decals have been prepared to commemorate the occasion, along with redesigned medals for state champions.
The Centennial Celebration Web site was launched in July with photo galleries, champion archives, and a timeline of the UIL’s 100-year history. By visiting www.uil100.org, readers can keep track of the latest news and events, vote for All-Century Teams, and share their stories about how the UIL positively influenced and shaped their lives.
With the legacy of a century behind them, the UIL Legislative Council and staff look forward to contributing to another century of excellence ahead.