FROM OUT OF THE PAST
By Charley Robinson
One of the finest all around athletes to compete for the Maroon and White of the Uvalde Coyotes was former all-state defensive back Mark Mirelez. Mirelez is one of a select few Coyotes to be first-team all state, and his was a unanimous choice. During the 1988 season he was a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks as he picked off a state record 11 passes.
Those interceptions along with his headhunting tactics from the Coyote secondary earned him multiple honors. In addition to the state honor he was unanimous All-District, unanimous All West Texas (selected by the San Angelo Standard-Times), All West Texas Super Team and the Texas All State Super Team.
Mirelez was a varsity starter on the Coyotes football team his junior and senior years and holds the career record for interceptions. The Coyotes lost only two games his senior season, the first and the last but in between they won district, bi-district, area and regional before losing in the quarterfinals
The versatile athlete was also a part of history for the Coyote basketball team. He made the varsity in the middle of his sophomore year and during his junior year the Coyotes advanced to the quarterfinals in the playoffs, something that hadn't been done since the 1947-1948 season. His two free throws in the district championship game against West Campus sent the game into overtime and the Coyotes came out victorious.
He also played tennis and made the Coyote golf squad his senior year.
His versatility on the football field was evident as he was the backup quarterback and played some tight end behind Ashley Taylor.
Mirelez was also selected to play in the East-West game, a high school all-star game made up of all-state players. “I didn't play because it was in June and I was already at the Air Force Academy.”
“Coach [Mike] Williamson was incredible. He always had this quiet resolve that made you want to play and win for him. He never gave you all the praise or acceptance, so it normally left you wanting for more, to play better. One of the things he used to say was, ‘If you wanted something bad enough you'd already be dreaming about it.'”
“I remember when I was in elementary school I would go to the high school after school let out because my dad worked there. I would walk around the building and look in the trophy cases. I would look at the Orville Etheridge trophy, given to the outstanding athlete each year, and I dreamed about getting my name on that trophy. It came to pass. My senior year I was selected to receive that award. Dream hard enough and it will come true.”
“Coach [James] Ward was the defensive backs coach and my tennis coach. He was a great motivator and taught us a lot.” Mark was also the “All-American” boy. He was selected Most Athletic by his senior classmates, as it should have been, but he easily could have walked off with any number of awards. How about Most Dependable? This National Honor Society member did not miss a day of school. From kindergarten until high school graduation he was in school every day, a tribute not only to him but to his parents, Mike and Tare Mirelez, both Uvalde natives now living in Austin.
“I remember receiving some type of recognition for not missing school the first month, I think it was a pink sheet of paper from the principal, Wylie Walden, and it was called a ‘Warm Fuzzy.' I still have it somewhere and after that I wanted more ‘Warm Fuzzies.' At the end of the year I received a certificate and remember thinking that was pretty neat. Well, you can see it just kept growing and somewhere along the way momentum took over.”
“My Mom kept reminding me to stay healthy, my Dad was encouraging and the paper did an article at the end of my sixth-grade year, and it just kept building. Get over the first hurdle and whether it's through conscious effort, sacrifice or luck, just keep on going and don't look back. That helped me get through the Air Force Academy. The first day was real difficult. Then the first week was the hardest but I found a way to get through it, not quit and go home. My motivation was a shaved head. I didn't want anyone to see me like that.”
Mirelez got an appointment and a football scholarship to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. He played football his first two years before a couple of injuries prematurely ended his career.
“I would do the same thing all over again. I enjoyed playing and I received a great education.”
Mirelez was on the Dean's list numerous times and graduated in the top half of his class. He received a bachelor of science degree in legal studies in 1993 and a master's degree from Abilene Christian University in 1995.
“I was in the Air Force for five years. I did a short tour in Saudi Arabia and a longer one in Bosnia. Again, it was a great experience and something I would do over again.” He received numerous awards and commendations.
Mirelez lives in Cedar Park with his wife of eight years, the former Erika Reyes. They have two young boys, Maximillian, who is six and three-year-old Mark.
Professionally he heads up the global procurement organization for National Instruments Corporation, a $600-million hi-tech company headquartered in Austin that designs, develops, manufactures and markets measurement and automation products for test and measurement and industrial applications. It has about 3,800 employees worldwide, with direct operations in 40 countries.
For the past six years Fortune Magazine has named NI one of the 100 best companies to work for in America.
“I was in procurement in the Air Force for all five years so when I got out I went to work for NI in the same field and have been there ever since.”
“I'm a big fan of seeing something that you want that's fairly lofty, like the interception record, making all state, the perfect attendance, going to the Air Force Academy, etc., and finding a way to go after it and never looking back. You take small wins and turn them into bigger wins. Pretty soon you turn that into a way of life.”
As part of his job, Mirelez is responsible for six procurement organizations and over $100 million of NI's annual spending. He travels all over the world. Not bad for a kid who was motivated by “Warm Fuzzies.”
Former Uvalde All State football player Mark Mirelez at National Instruments headquarters in Austin.