James G. Disch Receives 2020 TAHPERD Trailblazer Award

James G. Disch Receives 2020 TAHPERD Trailblazer Award

Dr. Disch Receives 2020 TAHPERD Trailblazer Award

Dr. James G. Disch, an Associate Professor in Rice University’s Department of Sport Management, was recently recognized by the Texas Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (TAHPERD) with the 2020 Trailblazer Award. The award was presented to Disch in December 2020 at TAHPERD’s 97th Virtual Annual Convention.

Disch has also received TAHPERD’s Honor Award in 2011, the Scholar of the Year Award in 2012, and their highest honor, the David K. Brace Award, in 2017. The Trailblazer Award marks Disch’s fourth honor from TAHPERD in less than ten years.

“Dr. Disch has earned this distinguished recognition for demonstrating leadership, achieving excellence, and being an outstanding representative of the teaching profession,” Rose Haggerty, Executive Director of TAHPERD, said.

According to the TAHPERD website, the Trailblazer Award is presented to individuals who continuously advocate, recruit, and enhance Texas sports and sports leadership. Disch has embodied these qualifications through various teaching and coaching positions in his career, including coaching stints with the women’s basketball and women’s volleyball teams at Rice.

After earning his Master’s of Education in Health and Physical Education at the University of Houston, Disch coached the first five-on-five women’s basketball team in UH’s history. He coached the team without pay and while he was simultaneously teaching classes at the university.

Despite his impressive coaching experience, Disch says his main career focus has been teaching.

“I realized at some point that I really wanted my profession to be teaching, not coaching,” said Disch. “When I started this adventure in undergraduate school, I envisioned myself as a high school math teacher and a basketball and baseball coach, but then I realized by the time I got to be a senior in college that I wanted to teach at the university level.”

After earning his doctoral degree in Physical Education from Indiana University, Bloomington, Disch became a professor at Rice in 1973. He chaired the Department of Kinesiology from 1995 to 2001, and from 1986 to 1991 he served as a College Magister at Sid Richardson, where he has received two Outstanding Faculty Associate awards.

It comes as no surprise to Disch’s students and colleagues that he continues to be recognized for his success as a leader in Texas sports and physical education. But for Disch, this award serves as a special acknowledgement of what he has done outside the classroom as well as inside.

“Winning this award was really meaningful to me,” said Disch. “I've always enjoyed coaching, but that was my avocation, not my real vocation. This Trailblazer Award recognized that aspect of my career and focused on it, so I was real appreciative of that.”

Disch-Trailblazer Award

Elliot Stahr, a senior from Irvine, California, is double-majoring in Psychology and Philosophy.