End of an era at Bellaire HS: baseball coaching legend Rocky Manuel retires
Bellaire High School coaching legend Rocky Manuel retired Tuesday after a quarter-century of leading Bellaire baseball teams to district, state and national titles and turning out college stars and Major Leaguers.
Principal Michael McDonough named Assistant Coach Nick Ozuna — a member of Manuel’s 1994 state champion team — to succeed him.
With a total of 35 years leading HISD teams (he was at Davis, Lamar and Milby highs before Bellaire), Manuel was the district’s winningest baseball coach, amassing 998 victories and 21 district titles.
He took Bellaire to the state playoffs 26 times, the state championship tournament three times, winning Texas titles in 1994 and 1999. USA Today named the latter team national champions and chose Manuel as its coach of the year.
More than 200 of his players went on to play NCAA Division I baseball in college, and seven are playing Major League Baseball.
One of his former players on the 1999 team – attorney and onetime Bellaire City Councilman Corbett Parker — noted Manuel’s contributions to his own life. “ There are few things I am prouder of or learned more from than our 1999 National & State Championship,” Parker wrote on Facebook. “He was like a father to me for a number of years & made a HUGE impact on my life … & HUNDREDS of other lives!!!”
McDonough called Manuel “the face and energy” of baseball at Bellaire High. “His commitment to the student-athletes, their families, and our entire school community cannot be questioned. I am proud to have worked alongside him for eight years, and I know that the changing of the guard today is an important event for both coaches and our school.
“When we discussed this, Coach Manuel and I were in 100 percent agreement that Nick was the ideal candidate to carry on the strong tradition of Bellaire baseball..”
After graduating from Bellaire High School, Ozuna went on to play four years of college baseball at Sam Houston State University and Houston Baptist University. In 2005, Coach Ozuna returned to Bellaire as an assistant coach after coaching at Westbury High School for one year.
Based in part on a news release from Houston ISD