DONNA — Mike Gonzales is coming home.

Donna ISD announced the hiring of Gonzales, a 2001 graduate of Donna High, as the new head football coach and athletic coordinator at Donna High Tuesday morning.

“Words can’t express how happy I was when I found out I was getting the job. I was very excited. A thousand things ran through my mind — I was happy, fired up, ready. I can’t wait to get back to the office and finally meet the staff and meet the kids,” Gonzales said, calling it a dream come true.

During his high school days at Donna, Gonzales was a three-year letterman in football at the inside linebacker position, while also competing in powerlifting and playing baseball. Gonzales most recently served as the offensive coordinator at Weslaco East, where he spent the past 10 years coaching football and powerlifting.

Gonzales said Weslaco East will always be a special place for him as he built relationships and memories that will last a lifetime, including coaching his son on the Wildcats’ 2017 third round playoff team.

“The biggest thing that I’ll take away from East are the relationships I made with the kids and the coaching staff. They have a tremendous coaching staff from top to bottom,” Gonzales said. “We had some amazing playoff runs — six out of the last 10 years we went to the third round. We’ve had some boys and girls state powerlifting championships, as well. They gave me my start as a coordinator and head coach of the powerlifting program, Weslaco East will always be special to me.”

Upon graduating from Donna High in 2001, Gonzales went on to play football at Morningside College in Iowa before transferring to Texas A&M-Kingsville, where he received his Bachelor’s Degree. While coaching and teaching, Gonzales earned a Masters of Education.

Now taking over as head football coach and athletic coordinator at his alma mater, Gonzales wants to highlight the history of the Rio Grande Valley’s lone state champion, while building a new legacy for the maroon and gold — and it all starts in the weight room.

“Donna has great tradition and I’m looking forward to reviving it,” he said. “We’re going to highlight the successful programs from the past. One of the things I do want to bring is one of the blueprints of Weslaco East is the weight room. I think the weight room is an instrumental part of the program while we were there at Weslaco East, and that’s something I’m going to bring to Donna High School, as far as the football and athletics programs, to get our kids confident, get our kids strong, and ready to out-hit people every Friday night.”

The Donna High football team is coming off a 3-7 season as the Redskins finished 2-7 in District 16-5A DI. For the next two years, Donna will compete in the new look 16-5A DI against the likes of Brownsville Lopez, Brownsville Pace, Brownsville Porter, Brownsville Veterans, La Joya Palmview, McAllen High, McAllen Memorial, McAllen Rowe and Weslaco East.

“To the great community of Donna, it sure feels great to be back home,” Gonzales wrote in a statement on Twitter. “I can already hear the Million Dollar Sound band playing those drums. It is truly an honor and a dream come true to be able to lead ‘The Mighty Fighting Donna Redskins.'”