After winning ten Lone Star Conference titles, numerous Hall of Fame honors, and five Lone Star Conference Coach of the Year awards, the long-time coach of the former Texas A&I (now Texas A&M-Kingsville) Javelinas is enjoying his retirement in South Texas.
Ron Harms began his career at Lutheran East High School in Detroit, Michigan as an assistant football coach, after graduating from Valparaiso University in Indiana. He also served as head coach for the track and cross country teams. “I enjoyed being around young people at that time in my life,” Harms says. “I felt like maybe I could have a good influence on them.”
Following three years of football, running, and a lot of snow, Harms moved on to Seward, Nebraska, where he was assistant football coach at Concordia College. (And track and cross country. Did we mention wrestling?) It was at Concordia that Harms, just twenty-seven years old, was offered his first head coaching job. He stayed for six years before heading to Alamosa, Colorado to coach the Adam State Grizzlies (formerly the Adam State Indians). After four seasons as head coach, Harms made his way to Kingsville, Texas, where he served at Texas A&I as offensive coordinator for head coach Gil Steinke. He left to be assistant coach for the Baylor Bears in Waco before coming back to Kingsville in 1979 as head coach. “I’d say this was the focal point in my career because of the length of time I spent there,” Harms says about his twenty-one years of coaching the Javelinas. It was here that Coach Harms led his team to a national championship in his first season followed by nine more Lone Star Conference titles before he retired in 2000.
Harms is now a member of the LSC Hall of Honor and Javelina Hall of Fame. He says there were several rewarding seasons as well as games that stick out in his mind. “The first season we were picked to finish fifth in the conference and ended up winning the national championship,” says Harms. “One of the most memorable games would have to be when we played Portland State. We were down like twenty-one points in the second half and ended up winning in the last minute of the game. The game was actually picked by Sports Illustrated as the game of the year as far as all divisions were concerned.”
The coach keeps in touch with many of his players, some of which have gone onto the NFL under his coaching. “I enjoyed the sport itself, it was intriguing to me,” said Harms. “I enjoyed the players and of course I had some very outstanding coaching staff and enjoyed the camaraderie of fellow coaches.”
Harms co-wrote the book The Whole Enchilada with David Flores, a former Texas A&I student who now writes for the San Antonio Express-News. The Whole Enchilada is the story of a forty-one year coaching career, the ups and downs and everything in between. “I wrote it particularly for the fans of football, the Texas A&I Javelina fans,” says Harms. “I had a strong tie to a lot of the fans there and there was a lot of history, a lot of tradition that I wanted to bring back in their memories.”
Coach Harms is now happily retired with his wife, Marlene, in South Texas. But he certainly hasn’t been forgotten. According to his daughter Cindy, “Ten years after being retired, we will still walk into a restaurant and there is always someone shouting, ‘Hey Coach Harms, how ya doin’!’”