Gary Lawson has a gift for building and empowering.
Building athletics departments and programs. Empowering coaches and student-athletes.
A native of Buckinghamshire, a county outside of London, England, Lawson has a successful history of building teams and programs as a coach in New York for 20 years, culminating as a NCAA collegiate women's soccer coach at St. Joseph's College Brooklyn (N.Y).
Previously, Lawson was the athletic director at the Nord Anglia International School of New York from 2018-2020.
Lawson brought those abilities to the Bulldogs of the British International School of Houston in Katy, where he oversees the school's nine sports programs and over 40 teams as athletic director.
"I found myself in Houston and loving it," Lawson said. "I love this school and love this job."
Lawson is in his second year as athletic director at BIS Houston, which has more than 70 nationalities. Last year, the school had almost 300 student-athletes from the middle school through the high school levels.
"In the short time that we've been here, and even through COVID, we've been able to expand the number of teams from middle school to high school, been able to get more student-athletes involved in all of our athletic programs, been able to enter student-athletes into state competitions, whereas in previous years we haven't been able to enter those," Lawson said.
Last season, the Bulldogs had athletes qualify for the TAPPS soccer, swim, tennis and golf state tournaments.
"This is why I do the job I do," Lawson said. "Give these kids the opportunity to compete and represent our school. They get to represent themselves and their family, and they come from all over the place. They find themselves transplanted here in Houston, a bit like me, and we create that platform for them to succeed. Practice, play with friends, compete.
"And if we win some games and lose some games, that's cool. But in the years to come, they'll forget those results. What they will remember is the coach that encouraged them, the best friend that helped them through a season, a game-winning goal they scored. Those are the memories we want to cultivate."
The school's athletics department continues to grow.
Volleyball and basketball are in their first year of TAPPS competition. Students are joining athletics at a rapid pace, particularly as the school's sports become better recognized.
For Lawson, it's all about providing the opportunity for the student-athlete.
"Taking a team or program that needs a bit of TLC, giving them the empowerment to get really good at a sport if they practice it, are dedicated and have passionate coaches like we do. The world's their oyster from there," Lawson said. "They may not go to a DI college or play. But they may go back to their country and become a coach or carry on that journey in the sport at a professional or recreational level."
Lawson completed his formal education in the United Kingdom. He thoroughly enjoyed his time in New York, finding meaningful roles as a coach and administrator. He didn't necessarily expect to ever find himself in Texas.
But when the previous athletic director of BIS Houston, Matt Harris, departed, Lawson jumped at the chance to continue to develop the school's athletic program.
Having already been in the pipeline of Nord Anglia Education, he was considered an ideal fit for the task in east Katy.
"As an athletic director, success can be defined in so many different ways," Lawson said. "Is it the participation levels of the students and raising the number of children that engage in after-school athletics? Is it wins and losses?
"For me, personally, the wins and losses are of lesser importance, so ask me in 20 years' time when I get to see the impact the student-athletes have had in their lifetime. It's quality of the person over the player. Not the number of championships."