When a Hoosier kid had a chance to fulfill a Heartland dream with the opportunity to play collegiate basketball, it became something of a reflexive decision for Chad Becker.
But the decision to play basketball – and baseball – at well-regarded Christian Brothers University in Memphis turned into so much more for Becker, a Fort Wayne, Indiana, native who otherwise had been on a path to play only baseball at native-state flagship school Indiana University.
More than 30 years later, including the last 29 at Germantown’s Houston High School, Becker still hasn’t left his adopted home.
And through his distinguished service, first as a multi-sport coach as well as educator at Houston, the last 15 as athletics director, Becker has been tabbed as a 2022-23 Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association Distinguished Service Award recipient.
“I think if you are steeped in athletics in college, there is a part of you that wants to stay connected to all the best parts of being in athletics, and that’s the people you meet, the people who help shape and mold lives,” said Becker, whose wife, Jessica, is a mechanical engineer who’s flourished in her professional career in the Bluff City, helping design replacement hips and knees, among other developments. “I thought it was a natural progression for me to keep going. I was blessed that I got a great opportunity here at Houston.
“I think all the young coaches – and I was the same way – when you start, you feel that the most important thing you can do to distinguish yourself is to win. Once you win, you realize that the most important thing you can do to distinguish yourself is to develop the kinds of relationships that allow the people you lead to feel empowered and to be resilient so that they can go out into the world and make a change for good. Sometimes perhaps that takes longer than possibly it should, but I was very fortunate to have great mentors and leaders around me that allowed me to both be successful and learn the value of forging those relationships.”
Relationships; impacting lives. Those are the elements that keep Becker so wholly dedicated and engaged at Houston, a school merely three decades old and one which will celebrate its 100th state championship – with its next title.
As a former English teacher at Houston six periods a day, not to mention assistant and head coaching duties in basketball, girls’ basketball and softball, Becker – Tennessee’s 2019 statewide Athletic Director of the Year – has witnessed from the front row the school’s evolution, but more importantly the development of thousands of its students.
“I just think there comes a point where you have a sense of responsibility that you have been given gifts or an opportunity to help change the trajectory of people’s lives,” said Becker, whose son, Sam, is a freshman at the University of Tennessee and whose daughter, Ava, is a sophomore member of Houston’s volleyball team. “Sometimes it’s just making yourself available to get down in the mud with people. Sometimes it’s a space to vent. Sometimes it’s to find a leader for their program so that they can evolve into a leader themselves and the player they’re supposed to be.
“I just never wanted to have someone finish their time here and come and say, ‘I wish we could have fill-in-the-blank. Some of those experiences are forged from missed opportunities that I had, and some of them are forged from being in a place that has the right culture; you don’t want to miss opportunities to help here.
“We’ve had that here at Houston, and I’ve been lucky we’ve had that here for a long time.”
TSSAA proudly salutes Chad Becker for his years of service to student-athletes as a coach and administrator.