Paul Gomez was born on August 29, 1946, and attended school in Bruni – population 379 – a community near Hebbronville. Following graduation, Paul was drafted into the US Army and served from 1967-69, mostly in Korea. “Very cold,” he recalls, “with up to 40” of snow coming down for days in the winter and monsoon for six months in the summer.” Paul went to Korea when the USS Pueblo, a Banner-class environmental research ship, attached to the Navy as a spy ship, was attacked and captured by North Korean forces in January of 1968; subsequently, Paul earned combat pay while serving the First of the 38th Infantry Regiment/2nd Infantry Division.
Following his service duty, Paul settled in Grand Prairie and worked with manufacturing for Gifford Hill American, a pressure pipe company. He remained there until moving to work for Crucible Steel in 1977. Ultimately, Paul became self employed, owning a roofing and fencing business.
Meanwhile, one of the most notable achievements of Paul’s life is his prowess in softball. He had been a baseball player in high school, but while serving in the Army and while living in Dallas, Paul played fast pitch softball. He played with teams that competed all over the United States, and he coached in Red Oak, Texas, taking his team to State in 1984.
When Paul moved to Devine in 1986, he met Corky Sadler, whose son, Dwight, was great friends with Paul’s son, Paul Jesse Gomez. With Sadler’s encouragement, the two began coaching high school girls’ teams, ages 18 and under. As his reputation grew as a softball, fast pitch coach, Paul started teaching girls not only in Devine but from all surrounding towns: Jourdanton, Pleasanton, Hondo, Pearsall, Uvalde, Eagle Pass, and San Antonio. Because individual towns didn’t have enough girls participating to form teams of their own, Paul formed teams by combining girls from Pleasanton, Hondo, and Devine. Following Little League rules, Paul and Sadler succeeded in taking their teams to State two years in a row, 1992 and ’93.
Paul continued to teach/coach from 1988 until 2016 when his health began to take its toll. He says that it is a lot of work, and kids never stop asking for his help. Consequently, even though he continues to get calls from parents requesting him to coach their daughters, Paul has had to “retire.”
To his credit, Paul coached several girls who attended college on softball scholarships. DHS graduate Tracy Staley coaches in the valley at Los Fresnos; Misty Gillespia, from Pleasanton, coached in Pleasanton and now teaches there; and Holly Sadler, a stay-at-home mom living in Austin, earned her degree first in long-term health care and eventually as a registered nurse.
Many of the girls Paul coached attended the ceremony Saturday held at the Little League Field in Devine where Paul was presented with a plaque from Devine Little League which read: “Paul Gomez, Sr., in recognition for his many years of outstanding service to the youth of our community.” Corky’s widow, Sharon Sadler, says this, “In my opinion, there wouldn’t have been a Big League team in Devine without Paul Gomez. Corky wanted to do it, but not without Paul coaching with him. Paul was a pitcher, and he coached and developed great pitchers all over the region for 20 years. He brought a tough, no-nonsense approach to the practices. The girls took that same attitude to the games. He told Corky, ‘The only way to win is to have the toughest girls on the field, mentally and physically.’ Corky agreed, and that is how they built a championship team almost immediately.” And Sharon adds, “Corky could not have coached without Paul’s help. He was awesome with the girls and they loved him dearly.” Paul says he is thankful for the honor and especially enjoyed reminiscing old times with the girls.
There is another accomplishment about which Paul is especially proud, and that is of his son, Paul Jesse Gomez (DHS 1991), who has served on the Warhorse Football Coaching Squad since 2000 and was just promoted as Devine’s Head Football Coach. He is married to Cassandra Flores Gomez (DHS 2003), and they have three sons: Matthew (10), Marcus (7), and Mason (2). No doubt Paul will stay quite busy attending his son’s football games and enjoying his grandsons.