Friday is a day that Jason Venable will cherish for much longer than it took the high school soccer coach to get there.
Venable arrived in Waxahachie in 2003 with just 87 career wins and three playoff berths over his first seven years as head coach. With two more victories in the upcoming season, he'll have garnered 360 victories in the green and white alone.
But, before he can help the Lady Indians to those two wins, he'll have to humbly take his seat beside five others as the newest members of the Texas Association of Soccer Coaches Hall of Honor.
Those individuals include Alan Pocock, Glen Waddell, Sam McCutchen, William Manning and William McDonald. The group joins 24 others who were all inducted between 2010-17.
Venable was first nominated to the TASCO Hall of Honor two offseason ago. He said the entire experience has been “kind of surreal. You don’t think about these kinds of things. You just go do your job every day, love what you do and do it."
"I don’t feel like I have done any more than anyone else," he added. "I just work hard and try to teach these kids a few things and have just kind of been lucky; that is the way I look at it. It has been a fun deal.”
According to the hall-of-honor criteria listed on the TASCO website, the inductions are based partly on a point system to qualify as a nominee and then the voting members decide. The TASCO website notes "being nominated into the hall of honor doesn’t guarantee anything. Upon nomination, the nominee would be placed into the pool of qualified candidates to be voted on each year by the HoH selection committee."
Coaches earn points for each varsity win (1 point), each year served on the TASCO board as a regional director (2 points), each year served on the TASCO executive board (3 points) and each year over 15 years as a TASCO member (1 point).
The TASCO Hall of Honor nomination form also notes that most coaches accumulate a minimum of 300 points before being considered by the selection committee.
He's certainly got that — in wins alone.
Venable won his 400th career game as a head coach with a 4-0 victory by the Lady Indians against Arlington Seguin on March 2, 2015.
I never would have thought that I would’ve been here for 15 years when I took the job. I didn’t know if I could live and work in Waxahachie being an Ennis boy. Well, coach, 500 isn't that far away. At the time, he told the Daily Light that it'd be "really hard" to get to No. 500 while just coaching one team, as he had passed the reins of the boys' program off to Waxahachie alumnus Seth Riley ahead of the 2014 season. Venable compiled a 119-105-34 mark while leading the Indians on the pitch.
Venable currently boasts a 445-206-85 career coaching record at Waxahachie, Midlothian and Colleyville Heritage High Schools in 33 combined seasons (18 boys, 15 girls).
His first gig as a head coach came at Midlothian High in 1996.
When the Midlothian soccer program launched, Venable recalled being the only coach on the entire football staff with any soccer experience. He was not, however, the first coach chosen to lead the upstart team.
“During tryouts of that first year, I went to the [athletic director] and told him that ‘this guy would really like to be the assistant and he wants to coach baseball, and I would really like to have this job and be the head coach.’”
The athletic director obliged.
“I never even thought I would coach high school soccer; never did I think that was what I was going to do because I was going to be a head football coach,” Venable added. “[…] It’s weird how things turn out, but some things are just meant to be.”
During the first year as the head soccer coach of the Panthers, Venable recalled the team needing four girls to complete the roster — including three who started.
After a 6-12 season the inaugural year, Venable helped lead the Panthers to back-to-back playoff appearances in 2000 and 2001, with the latter ending in the first-ever district soccer championship for Midlothian ISD. He departed later that same year with a 55-39-5 record.
“We had a rough first year, but every year it got better. It is a great little community, and I thought that I’d be there forever.”
But he wasn’t. He actually even left in the middle of his Midlothian tenure to return home to Ennis, where he served as a junior high football coach before ultimately returning to Midlothian for three more seasons.
Then add to the tenure that Venable had open-heart surgery just before his final season in blue. The procedure forced him to turn in his football whistle and become a one-sport coach and then led to a departure to 5A Colleyville Heritage.
He compiled a 32-10-8 record and one area championship appearance (2003) as the head boys' soccer coach at Colleyville Heritage. The second round berth was the first in program history.
And, yet again, a medical-related issue forced a change to Venable’s coaching-career path — this time under much happier circumstances, as his wife, Jennifer, found out she was pregnant with twins shortly after the 2002-03 soccer season.
“I was living in Ennis and working in Colleyville, and I was like, ‘We can’t do this.’ I knew I couldn’t keep driving back and forth with two little ones. I got home one day, we were living in Ennis and had just bought a new house, and there was a newspaper on my front doorstep," Venable explained. "It was the Waxahachie Daily Light and it was in Ennis. I was like, ‘What’s the Daily Light doing on my doorstep?’ I had grown up in Ennis all of my life and am an Ennis boy, and we hated Waxahachie, so I was just thinking, ‘what the heck is this about?’”
Venable recalled opening the newspaper to find an article circled that announced the firing of the head boys’ soccer coach at Waxahachie High School.
“To this day, I don’t know who did it. I don’t know who did it. That was the only way I knew this job was open," he said. "It was probably an Ennis coaching buddy, but I don’t know who did it and I never asked. So, I called Jerry McLemore about it, and he asked how I knew about the job because he had just fired the coach. I said, ‘It’s in the Daily Light!’”
Dressed in his best suit, Venable met McLemore, the then-Waxahachie ISD athletic director, the next morning and the journey to the Indians sideline was complete.
He later picked up the role as the head coach for the Lady Indians program and the rest, as it is often said, is history.
“I've been very fortunate for the way things have turned out,” Venable added. “[…] It has been fun, and I can’t even think about quitting, you know, it’s just what I do.”
He added, “I never would have thought that I would’ve been here for 15 years when I took the job. I didn’t know if I could live and work in Waxahachie being an Ennis boy. Now everything in my closet is green, I bleed green, and I even wear my Waxahachie stuff to HEB in Ennis and everyone looks at me, but I don’t care.”
Venable has compiled a 239-52-38 record on the sidelines with Lady Indians and a 206-154-47 combined record while leading the three boys programs.
His teams have appeared in five regional tournaments, won seven district championships and accumulated 38 playoff victories in 21 postseason appearances (10 boys, 11 girls). He was also named a TASCO Region II girls coach of the year in 2006 and 2010 and served on the TASCO board as a Region I and II director for several years.