NTJCAC HALL OF FAME
Hobart F. "Hobie" McManigal - Vernon College
The colleagues of Hobart F. “Hobie” McManigal are honored and privileged to recommend him for the North Texas Junior College Athletic Conference Hall of Fame.
During his 30-year tenure, Hobart F. “Hobie” McManigal was actively involved in teaching, leading, and coaching at Vernon College. McManigal was instrumental in all student activities outside the classroom and coaching assignments, such as Sports Day, Turkey Run, and the Intramural activities of Flag Football, Basketball, Volleyball, Archery, Tennis, Golf, and Softball.
Hobie McManigal began his career at Vernon College (formerly Vernon Regional Junior College) in the fall of 1975 as Tennis coach and Physical Education instructor. In 1978 McManigal was promoted to Athletic Director. At that time the Athletic Department consisted of Intercollegiate Tennis and Golf. His tenure from 1975 – 2005, McManigal was responsible and commendable for his implementation of several athletic programs.
The fall of 1982 the college fielded its first Collegiate Rodeo Team. After a coach was hired, a rodeo arena was established and constructed to allow the team a place for practice on campus.
Spring of 1987 brought on the Collegiate Baseball Team. While recruiting a new coach, McManigal was instrumental in the planning, organizing, and overseeing the newly constructed baseball complex.
In 1989 McManigal again recruited a new coach and instituted the Collegiate Volleyball Team.
In the spring of 1996 McManigal, once again hired a coach, and instituted the Collegiate Softball Team. He supervised the construction of the softball field, assisted by the coach.
As Hobie McManigal’s career shows, he has been a valuable asset to Vernon College not only to students, but the athletes and colleagues as well. He always has had a positive attitude whether on campus or in the community. The teams he developed continue his legacy to this day. He exemplifies the significance of being an outstanding educator, coach, athletic director, leader, and friend.
Van Hedrick - North Central Texas College
Van Hedrick has been the only head softball coach in the 20-year history of the North Central Texas College program. After serving as the assistant baseball coach at NCTC for several years, he started the softball program from scratch in 1999. In his 20 years as head coach, he has only had ONE losing season, and that was the very first season. He has more than 840 victories, winning more than 65 percent of his games. That win total makes him the winningest active junior college coach in Texas, and ranks him 10th among all active NJCAA Division I coaches. His teams have won two NTJCAC Championships, three NJCAA Region V North Championships and have advanced to the NJCAA Division I National Tournament three times in a span of nine years.
Since the inception of the program, Coach Hedrick has made sure his team is actively involved in the community. Whether it be volunteering with a community playground build, reading to kindergarten students at local schools, working at a hot-air balloon festival to benefit a local hospital, or cleaning up a church playground, the Lady Lions softball team is always looking for ways to help out the community.
Since 2005, Hedrick has served as Athletic Director at NCTC. Each year, NCTC teams donate the proceeds from gate admissions to local organizations including the American Red Cross and local animal shelters and food pantries. Tens of thousands of dollars have gone to local non-profit organizations because of this program.
While attending Iowa Park High School, where he graduated in 1985, Van Hedrick was a three-sport letterman in football, basketball and baseball, and he earned All-District honors in all three sports. His pursuit of excellence on the playing field is no different in his work as the Lady Lions' first coach than it was in his playing days.
Coach Hedrick attended Vernon Regional Junior College from 1986-1988, playing shortstop and serving as a team tri-captain. After earning his Associate degree there, Hedrick attended Tarleton State University from 1988 to 1990. At Tarleton, he moved to the outfield and was used as a relief pitcher. An arm injury sidelined him for most of his junior season. During Hedrick's senior year at Tarleton, however, he was named "Comeback Player of the Year."
In 1990, Coach Hedrick earned his bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice, with a minor in Physical Education. After a year as the assistant coach at Hill College, he returned to Tarleton State and was a graduate assistant coach for two years while completing his Master of Education degree in 1992.
Coach Hedrick is married to Robyn Ruzicka Hedrick and they have three daughters: Ashley, Allison and Autumn. Robyn holds a master's degree in Early Childhood Development and teaches high school Family and Consumer Science in Lindsay, TX.
No doubt one of the highlights of Coach Hedrick’s career came in 2017 when his older daughter, Ashley, signed with NCTC Softball.
William J. Campion - Ranger College
Ranger College President William J. Campion won a lot of games during his career as a basketball coach. He called even more during a 35-year period as a college referee before retiring from the court to focus on being one of the top small-college administrators in the United States.
More than two decades after he hung up his whistle, Campion got the call he least expected last month. He was wanted in the hall.
The Northern Texas Junior College Athletic Conference Hall of Fame, that is.
“We’re honored to inducted President Campion into the NTJCAC Hall of Fame,” said Northern Texas Junior College Athletic Conference Commissioner Stan Feaster in making the announcement. “As a coach, referee and administrator, few people have done as much for this conference, and this school, as he. I can’t think of anyone who deserves this more.”
With his induction into the NTJCAC Hall of Fame, Campion becomes the fourth person from Ranger College to be enshrined in the conference’s hall of fame. Other RC individuals honored with individuals enshrined are former basketball/softball coach Ron Butler, former baseball coaches Jack Allen and Don Flowers.
A native of El Paso, Campion has spent more than 40 years in the college ranks, working as a coach, educator and administrator at some of the top institutions on the U.S. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Texas Western College (now the University of Texas at El Paso. He later earned his doctorate from Texas A&M-Commerce.
Campion, who has served as president of Ranger College for the past 10 years, broke into coaching college basketball in 1969 at Schreiner College in Kerrville. He served as the college’s head coach through the 1975 season. Following his departure from Schreiner for a position with East Texas State University, Campion continued working as a college and high school official. He spent more than three decades as an official in Texas, Oklahoma and Florida.
Campion’s induction into the NTJCAC Hall of Fame marks the second time he has been honored with inclusion in an athletics hall of fame. In 1994, he was enshrined in the Florida Community College Basketball Hall of Fame. The following year, in 1995 he was honored by the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) with a Distinguished Service Award for his contributions to junior college athletics at the national level.
During his tenure at Ranger College, Campion has had a major impact, including the passage of a $10 million bond that has helped the 93-year-old campus upgrade several of its facilities. He also hired former University of Kentucky and Texas A&M head coach Billy Gillispie as the men’s basketball coach and athletic director to oversee the overhaul of the RC athletic departments. Earlier this year, the RC men’s basketball team was ranked No. 1 in the country. The college’s golf and cross country teams are also ranked among the nation’s best.
Campion and his wife, Sharon, are the parents of four daughters, and the grandparents to 12 grandchildren, some of whom have attended Ranger College.
Kevin Darwin - North Central Texas College
At the helm of Lions Baseball from its inaugural season in 1992, Coach Darwin led the Lions to the 2001 NJCAA World Series Championship in Grand Junction, Colorado. It was the first national title in any sport ever won by a North Central Texas College Team. And they did it in grand style—becoming the first team ever to drop the first game and then win six straight to capture the championship. The feat resulted not only from the efforts of an exceptional group of players but also from Coach Darwin’s outstanding managerial skills and inspirational leadership. It also earned him NJCAA “Coach of the Year” honors for 2001.
As Athletic Director, Coach Darwin brought distinction to all NCTC intercollegiate sports, in the classroom as well as on the playing fields. For him, the first word of the phase “student athlete” will always be the most important.”
Don Flowers - Ranger College
Former Ranger College baseball player and coach Don Flowers was inducted into the the Northern Texas Junior College Athletic Conference (NTJCAC) Class of 2018 “Hall of Fame” during a campus ceremony on December 21, 2017 immediately following the induction of the late Jack Allen.
Flowers played for the hall of fame coach, Allen from 1971-73. During his time on the field, he was named MVP of the national tournament when the Rangers captured the title in ’73. After his time as a Ranger, Flowers went on to play at Pan American University, now called University of Texas Rio Grande located in Edinburg.
After his playing career ended, Flowers returned to Ranger and became an assistant for his former coach. In his first season assisting his former coach, RC placed third in the national tournament and would go on to win the 1978 national championship. When Allen retired in 1985, he endorsed Flowers to take over the Rangers baseball program, of which he did and went on to win over 400 games.
While he coached future MLB players Hector Ortiz, Danny Williams and Pedro Bourbon many would say his biggest contribution to RC baseball was overseeing the construction of a new ballpark, which was named after Ranger alum and former MLB player Ellis Burks. Construction was completed in 2000 and RC still plays its home games there.
Flowers retired from coaching in 2004 and began working in the wildlife industry.
Jack Allen - Ranger College
Former Ranger College baseball head coach and NJCAA Hall of Famer, Jack Allen was posthumously inducted into the Northern Texas Junior College Athletic Conference (NTJCAC) Class of 2017 “Hall of Fame” during a campus ceremony on December 21, 2017. Mr. Allen passed away on May 28, 2016 at the age of 80.
A 1953 graduate of Ranger High School, Allen coached at Ranger Junior College – later renamed Ranger College – for more than two decades and won a school-record 814 games and a pair of NJCAA national championships. He began his coaching career in 1963 at RJC and helped turn the Rangers into a perennial national power. Under his leadership, the team won the NJCAA national title in 1973 and 1978, finished fifth in 1975, and third in 1976. In addition to the two national titles, he led Ranger to seven regional championships and four state titles. During his 23 seasons as the Rangers’ head coach, he compiled a record of 814-399.
Allen was elected into the Junior College Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 1986. After retiring from Ranger Junior College, he took over the head coach at Tarleton State University in 1989. Over the ensuing 13 seasons, he led the Texans to consecutive 40-win seasons and was named the NAIA District 8 and Area II Coach of the Year in 1992. He helped TSU qualify for the school's first NCAA South Central Regional Tournament in 1998. Allen returned to RC to finish out his career as the Rangers athletic director.
Coach Allen was inducted into the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame prior to the 2000 season. He retired from coaching in 2002 and was inducted into the Tarleton Athletics Hall of Fame in 2009.
Jack a resident of Lake Leon, was married to his wife of 50 years, Linda Ann Allen. He becomes the second recipient of this prestigious honor, following former Coach Ron Butler in 2015.
Dr. Robert "Chops" Chaloupecky - North Central Texas College
Coming aboard in 1971, Coach Chaloupecky not only built the longest tenure of any NCTC coach in any sport ever but also amassed an unequaled winning record by the time he retired on July 2, 2003. Over 32 seasons, his teams posted a cumulative overall dual match record of 949-298-15. His winning percentage of .761 was still, in 2003, the highest among all active community college tennis coaches in the records. His players posted equally impressive records in the classroom, many winning Academic All-American honors and, as a team, inspiring all other NCTC student athletes to strive for academic excellence. Coach Chaloupecky was inducted into the NJCAA Women’s Tennis Hall of Fame in 1993 and the NJCAA Men’s Tennis Hall of Fame in 1997. He was NJCAA Junior College Wilson/ITA Coach of the Year in 1997.
Ron Butler - Ranger College
Ranger College has selected Mr. Ron Butler as the first recipient of the newly established Northern Texas Junior College Athletic Conference (NTJCAC) “Hall of Fame”.
Ron Butler, better known as “Coach Butler” or “Mr. Ranger College” to many area folks and colleagues retired in 2000 after providing 36 years of athletic direction for Ranger College. His long running successful career began in 1964 as the Men’s basketball coach and Assistant football coach. This endeavor followed an outstanding High School career at Oak Grove High School in Paragould, Arkansas, which earned him a basketball scholarship at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock and Midwestern University.
During his tenure at Ranger College, Coach Butler held the reigns as Athletic Director for 32 years. In addition, he was the Men’s basketball coach for 16 years, enjoying many successful seasons. Throughout his successful coaching career, Ranger College would benefit from many of Butler’s accomplishments. His basketball team would quickly earn the nickname “Butler’s Bullies,” especially while overpowering opponents in Ranger Gym, now appropriately named Ron Butler Gymnasium, where the Rangers very seldom ever suffered a defeat. In only his second season, Ranger would win the Region V Tournament and advance to the National JUCO Tournament in Hutchinson, Kansas. Several conference championships would come his way; 1965, 66, 67, 71, 76, and 1982. It was the 1967 season that the Rangers reached their highest level of play, winning the Region V Championship and placing 6th in the National Tournament, having held the rank of #2 in the Nation for much of the season. In all Butler amassed a 320-160 record.
He began the Women’s basketball program in 1968, cultivating an 18 year run. His Women’s basketball teams ranked at the top of the old AIAW and won the National Invitational Tournament, the then National Championship in Oklahoma City, in 1971. Ranger’s baseball program also rose to prominence under Butler’s 34-year watch as A.D., winning National Championships in 1973 and 1978. Remaining a vital part of Ranger football program, Butler would witness a feat, reached by few…helping the program win a National Championship in 1979.
In 1987, Butler pioneered a women’s Fast-Pitch softball program as an intercollegiate sport. At the time, Ranger College was only the second Junior College in Texas offering Women’s softball at the Division I college level. His Lady Rangers would advance to the National Tournament four times placing second in both 1988 and 1991. In 1994 and still going strong, Butler founded the “Cowtown Classic,” which now represents the largest two-year college women’s softball event drawing over 35 teams from 7 states.
A special tribute was paid to the long-time coach and Athletic Director on January 9, 2010, a celebration in his honor recognizing this day as “Ron Butler Day.”
Butler remains very much the center of all things at Ranger College, where he attends many home sporting events and also serves on the Ranger College Board of Regents as Vice-Chairman. Of his many accomplishments he acknowledges one of his best, which is being married to his lovely wife Rowena for over 56 years. The Butlers raised three children and have five grandchildren.
WJCAC HALL OF FAME
Nicky McCrimmon - New Mexico Junior College
Nicky McCrimmon, born March 22, 1972 in Manhattan New York, is the youngest of seven siblings and born to the late Geneva McCrimmon, her biggest supporter. Nicky learned that the strength of her mother would motivate her to achieve unsurmountable odds through the face of adversity and obstacles. She developed a love for sports, but happened to excel the best in basketball. She spent most of her youth on the pavements ane at the infamous King Dome (Foster Projects), West 4th Street, Milbank and Rucker Parks, developing a toughness and grit, where she was often challenged by boys in the neighborhood. She learned how to handle the ball, which included no look passes and a quickness like no one else her age, thus given her the nickname “Quickie Nicky.” She began to take this sport very serious, realizing there could be an opportunity to earn a future scholarship. She wasn’t prepared for what was to come upon entering high school and this is where the real journey in her determination to achieve began.
Entering high school, Nicky was sure to make the varsity team and did just that at Murry Bergtraum Public High School. She spent her first two years excelling both academically and athletically, but also struggled emotionally as her mother, Ms. Geneva was fighting through a medical condition. Her Mom and siblings are Nicky’s pride and joy and it was very difficult to see her Mom face such pain. However, Ms. Geneva and family never missed a game and would be her biggest cheerleaders present. Although Nicky excelled at Murry Bergtraum, having averaged 24.3 points per game and 6.2 assists, and a single game scoring record of 45 points, she decided she needed a change. She transferred to West Side High School and this is really where her career took off. She averaged better than 20 pts., 10 assist and 4 steals a game. Nicky’s highlight at Westside High, was once scoring 80 points in a single game. Although excited about basketball, her family was her priority. Her senior season came and Nicky had to begin to think about her future. Did she want to stay in New York or explore other parts of the world?
She began to get recruited by a few schools, but her closeness to her Mother would not allow her to move too far away. A close friend of Nicky’s heard of an opportunity in Hobbs, New Mexico, and made mention of it just to get an answer of; What? Where? I have never heard of a school that far away and I certainly did not want to leave my ailing mother.
Faced with this extremely difficult decision and with the encouragement and approval of her soft spoken mother, she decided to take a chance. After gaining the trust of Coach Bret Palmer and then learning there was financial assistance available, she said, YES. Nicky had to take a leap of faith and decided New Mexico JC was the place she wanted to lend her talents. She traveled across country and then began to second guess her decision, becoming “Home Sick.” Again, with the strength of her mother and the support of her siblings, she decided to remain in Hobbs, New Mexico. She then discovered, and comforted knowing there were other high school stand outs that planned on attending New Mexico as well.
Things were headed in the right direction and what was to become of her career at New Mexico Junior College was absolutely stellar. Her accomplishments from her first year alone, gained her honors such as first team All-Conference, assist and steal leader. She was recognized as one of the top guards in her conference, but now she began to earn national attention. Never losing sight of Ms. Geneva’s ailment, Nicky remained focused and determined to make her mother proud. In Nicky’s sophomore season, she was beginning to be recruited nationally by several schools such as University of Georgia, San Diego State, and University of Southern California (USC). Again, the accolades compiled with Nicky being named First Team All-Conference, All Region, and Kodak All-American, the highest honor for a Junior College Player. Nicky finished her stellar career, ranked #2 All Time, and one of the top assist and steal leaders, one of the team captains, and led the team to a 25-4 record, with New Mexico JC being nationally ranked.
After gaining numerous accolades, and with much consideration and approval of her loved ones, Nicky decided to commit to Pac-10 powerhouse, USC. She played alongside Lisa Leslie (2-time WNBA Champion & Gold Medalist), Tina Thompson (4-Time WNBA Champion, Gold Medalist), and a host of noteworthy student-athletes. Head Coach Marianne Stanley, had gained an outstanding player, and Nicky meshed very well with her team. She received a lot of support and began to feel that she made the right decision. However, during Nicky’s senior season, she received a call no one plans on receiving that Ms. Geneva had passed. Devastated, Nicky had to return home to New York to be with her family. Although a very challenging time, Nicky again had to face a decision, did she want to stay on the East Coast or did she want to return to USC. She spoke to her eldest sister, Sharon McCrimmon, who said, “Mom would not want you to give up on your dream of playing at a prestigious University, so continue to make her proud, as she will always be in our hearts.” Nicky returned to USC and continued to indeed to make her mother proud.
Nicky had developed into a true point guard, after learning her leadership development from New Mexico Junior College. This included; teamwork, dedication, consistency, dependability and being a good listener. She made a true impact at USC and in the PAC-10, with accolades including being in the top 8 in assist and steals/per turnover ratio. She was one of the most exciting point guards to watch and led her team to one game shy of going to the Final Four. In the Elite Eight National Tournament, Nicky shined, scoring in double figures vs. Nebraska University (15 points), Avg. 73% in Free throws and 6.2 in Assists. Her collegiate career was coming to a close, but one thing was for certain, she promised her family that she would honor her Mother Geneva by graduating with her degree from USC. Having the support of her family and them all being in attendance at her graduation, Nicky honored her commitment and walked across the stage with her degree in Communications and Minor in Sociology.
Now, she faced another life decision, what was to come next? She knew there could be a potential for a professional career but that was a matter of if a league would surface. To Nicky’s delight a newly formed Professional Women’s League had begun, the ABL. She was drafted to the Long Beach Stingrays and the Atlanta Glory, who was coached by the Legendary Gold Medalist, Teresa Edwards. Nicky had grown once again as a person and athlete and wanted to continue her professional career. She began to play in various leagues throughout the city to hone her skills. Again, she was delighted that she could possibly be drafted in the newly formed Women’s National Basketball League (WNBA). Nicky would have to wait three years to decide her fate. During that time, Nicky began to work in education as a substitute teacher and coach. She developed a liking toward helping others. Her patience indeed paid off, after extensive training and waiting for a call, she received the call she had been drafted in the 4th round of the WNBA by the Nicky was invited into the WNBA Combine in Chicago. Various teams were able to scout talent and prepare choose their top picks for the draft. A called was made to Nicky informing her that The Los Angeles Sparks had drafted her #63 in the fourth round. The opportunity to stay home and still play the sport that has shaped her life was a dream come true. During her career with the LA Sparks, she earned two World Championships, (2001, 2002) and played an important role with the team. Her infectious personality and ability to communicate effectively with her teammates, she was well received. Nicky played 4 seasons with the LA Sparks before being traded to the Houston Comets in 2005. During the off season of the WNBA, Nicky expanded her development by playing oversees in Poland, which she gained accolades by winning a championship with the European FIBA team, Polpharma VWB. To add to her off season accomplishments, Nicky received a Proclamation by the State of New York, naming September 13, as Nicky McCrimmon Day.
Nicky decided to retire the sport she loved so much, but her awards didn’t stop there. In 2003, the place that shaped her development recognized her by retiring her basketball jersey. The love and support they showed her during her playing years are invaluable and she is forever indebted. Her later accomplishments included acting roles in movies such as Space Jam and countless commercials and TV Sitcoms. Currently, Nicky serves as a Deputy Probation Officer but still finds time to mentor youth. The opportunity to be chosen and recognized in the Hall of Fame from New Mexico Junior College would be the final chapter in her story book. She has represented herself, her family and the sport of basketball with the highest integrity. We hope that she will be considered for this prestige award.
Kelly Chadwick, Western Texas College
Western Texas College along with the Western Junior College Athletic Conference took the opportunity to recognize the late Coach Kelly Chadwick by inducting him into the WJCAC Hall of Fame. The inductee was represented by his daughter, Denise Payne and her son Justin and daughter Jenna, and Coach Chadwick’s son Royce Chadwick, who currently coaches the Texas A&M- Corpus Christi women’s basketball team. The honor was presented to the Chadwick Family by Lyndon Hardin, the WJCAC Conference Commissioner and long time friend of Coach Kelly Chadwick and the Chadwick Family.
Coach Chadwick began his career within the Western Junior College Athletic Conference at Amarillo College where he was at the helm of the Lady Bulldog program from 1978 – 1985. There he established his expectation of success bearing a record of 161-76. He led the Lady Bulldogs to 3 Region 5 tournament championships and 3 NJCAA National Championship Tournament appearances in 1978-79, 1980-81 and 1982-83. After a highly successful career at Amarillo College, Coach Chadwick came to Western Texas College where he coached the Women’s Basketball Team from 1985-1992, who were known at that time as the Lady Dusters. His record at WTC was 134-82, another successful campaign. During 2 different seasons his teams earned the right to be named Conference Champions and advance to the NJCAA National Tournament. During the 1986-87 season they were WJCAC conference champions, NJCAA Region 5 tournament champions and they finished fourth at the NJCAA National Tournament. During the 1988-89 season they were NJCAA Region 5 Champions and finished sixth at the NJCAA National Tourney.
Coach Chadwick had the opportunity to coach 6 All-Americans, Oliva Jones, Kellye Richardson and Machelle Whitehead from Amarillo College and Nicky Allen, Pam Cox and Brenda Welch at Western Texas College. His success transcended both on and off the court. In a span of 12 years he had 46 players advance to a major university where over 94% of them went on to graduate.
We would like to take this opportunity to recognize Coach Chadwick for the impact he had on so many lives at Amarillo College, Western Texas College and throughout the entire NJCAA Region 5. Players, coaches, officials and administrators alike remember him and the impact he made in their lives. There are so many wonderful stories of him and we are truly thankful that he is part of the history at Amarillo College, Western Texas College, and WJCAC.
Wardell Gilbreath - New Mexico Junior College
Wardell Gilbreath grew up in Amarillo, Texas playing multiple sports including basketball, football, baseball and track and field. As he grew stronger and faster throughout high school, Wardell felt he was just average in most of the sports in which he participated. Soon, Wardell decided to concentrate on track and field and use the sport as a way to springboard himself into college. Little did he know the height of success he was headed for.
Track and field proved to have that immediate success for Gilbreath as he won state (Texas) in the 220-yard dash with a time of 21.2 during his senior year in high school and then landed a spot on the national High School All-American team.
Wardell’s success was just beginning, as his wish came true to go to college, when he began his collegiate track and field career at New Mexico Junior College under coach Ross Black, who helped mold him into one of the top sprinters of all time. The NMJC team went on to win numerous dual meets and set records in multiple events that led up to a trip to the NJCAA Track & Field Championship. Wardell became high point man after winning the NJCAA T&F Championship in the 220-yard dash at 20.6. He also placed in two other events, including second in the 100-yard dash and third in the mile relay. NMJC placed a successful third overall in the national meet. As a Junior College All-American, Wardell set school records in the 220-yard dash carving out his niche on the international circuit and becoming one of NMJC’s first sprinters to participate on multiple USA and World University track and field teams. Gilbreath then toured several nations, including Germany, Italy, Russia and Poland as a member of the USA Junior AAU Outdoor Track & Field Team where he became an international Champion in 1973, winning the 220-yard dash in 20.8. He also won a gold medal as the 2nd leg of the 400 meters relay team, which tied the world record at 39.9 set by France in 1969.
Moving on to the University of Arizona to pursue a degree in education, Wardell became a two-time NCAA All-American in the 200 meters in 1974 and 1976 when he was ranked No. 1 in the world for half the season and one of the top sprinters projected to make the USA Olympic Team. Unfortunately, an injury in the semifinals of the Olympic Trials prevented Wardell from making the team, but his time of 20.2 in the 200 meters still ranked him third in the world and second in the USA. In 1977, Gilbreath continued to participate with the USA team pursuing that Olympic dream and ran in key international meets including the third edition of the Pacific Conference Games, a competition between five Pacific coast nations: Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and the United States. He won a gold medal with the 4X100 relay team with a time of 38.85. He continued in 1978 to compete internationally in Belgium, Italy, Switzerland and Germany against Olympic-caliber athletes leading up to the 1980 Olympic games.
Back in the United States, Wardell successfully pursued a sponsorship with Mesa Petroleum Company of Amarillo, Texas, affording him the opportunity to train for the Olympics. In 1979, Gilbreath and the USA team then went to Moscow, Russia to participate in a pre-Olympic track & field meet at the Spartacade Games. Gilbreath was the only American to win three gold medals in Russia and was on track for the upcoming 1980 Olympic Trials until the USA decided to boycott the Moscow Olympics in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The boycott sank the dreams of many aspiring athletes. Wrapping up his profound year in 1979, Wardell was named the Panhandle Sports Hall of Fame Athlete of the Year.
In 1980, Gilbreath took a major step in building a life outside of track and field by marrying his longtime love, Audrey. Now married for 38 years, the couple raised two daughters, Stefanie and Briana who both became excellent athletes in their own right. Both daughters were H.S. McDonald All-Americans in basketball, NCAA women’s basketball players for the University of Southern California (USC) Trojans, and both played professionally for the WNBA as well as for overseas teams in Poland, Germany, Portugal and Belgium.
Today, Wardell and Audrey are owners of the largest and oldest African-American-owned marketing agency in Houston. They founded Gilbreath Communications, Inc. more than 28 years ago, and the company has steadily expanded its business and raised its profile — earning recognition over the years as one of Houston’s Fastest-Growing Small Businesses.
Since launching Gilbreath Communications, they have developed, implemented and managed diverse integrated marketing, public relations, advertising and digital campaigns, for more than 400 public and private entities. Their portfolio of clients include Shell Oil, the City of Houston Department of Homeland Security, Houston Community College System, the Texas Department of Agriculture, Texas A&M University, Prairie View A&M University, CenterPoint Energy, Amegy Bank, Port of Houston Authority, Workforce Solutions, the NFL, McCain Foods, Reliant Energy, Rite Choice Pharmacy, The Methodist Hospital, BP America, the City of Houston Health Department, and the Texas Department of Transportation, to name a few.
Gilbreath Communications also has won numerous prestigious industry, business and community service awards over the years for the agency’s work, including Small Business of the Year by the SBA and Marketing and Communications Firm of the Year by the Greater Houston Business Procurement Forum. After induction into the Southwest Advertising Hall of Fame, the agency received one of the ad club’s highest honors as the 2016 Silver Medal Award winner designated for those who make significant contributions to the success of their own company; demonstrate excellent creative ability; contributions to the general advancement of advertising; contributions to the community, and contributions to the AAF-Houston.
Wardell and Audrey both believe their greatest accomplishment was having the opportunity to pay it forward by putting five nephews through college so they, too, could become productive citizens. Additionally, five years ago, the agency launched a scholarship in the company’s name through the Advertising Education Foundation of Houston. The scholarship is awarded to students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) who are pursuing degrees in the communications area.
Tom Cantrell - New Mexico Junior College
Tom graduated from Sherman High School located in Sherman, Texas in 1969. Tom competed for the Bearcats in the relays and ran the 440-yard dash. Tom set the Sherman HS record in the 440 and was ranked sixth in the state of Texas his senior year.
After high school graduation Tom was recruited by the University of Oklahoma, but not being the strongest student it was recommended that he attend New Mexico Junior College. Tom considered himself to be very fortunate to have been coached by Ross Black. The NMJC teams did not lose a regular meet in the two years Tom competed for NMJC. During his freshman year the team won the NJCAA National Championship in the mile relay, and Tom set a school record in the 440-yard dash. During Tom’s sophomore season NMJC earned its first National Championship for New Mexico Junior College. The mile relay team needed a 4th place finish or better that day to earn the needed points to win the National Championship. Tom anchored that relay, when he received the baton the team was in 6th place and finished in 4th place winning the championship by one point! Tom earned “The Outstanding Track Athlete” of the year at the annual NMJC Sports Banquet. In 1971, Tom earned his Associates degree from NMJC.
Upon graduation, Tom was offered a full scholarship to the University of Oklahoma in Norman, OK. While competing at OU, Tom was on the school record setting and Big 8 Conference Champion mile relay team. Tom’s 440- yard dash time was 46.3 seconds, which earned him a selection to compete in the 1972 U.S. Olympic Trials. Tom was then selected to compete for the United States All-Star Team which battled against the Mexican Olympic Team that year. Tom completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science Degree in 1973. While working on his Master’s program, Tom was a graduate assistant for the OU track team.
After graduation Cantrell started his education career as a teaching principal in Noble, Oklahoma which also included the duties of coaching track. Tom became the head track and cross-country coach at New Mexico Junior College in 1980. Cantrell had several athletes that earned NJCAA National Championships in their respective events as well as earning NJCAA All-Americans honors. After seven successful years of coaching at NMJC, Tom moved back to Oklahoma to be closer to family.
Cantrell relocated to Anadarko, Oklahoma, his wife’s hometown, and continued his education career. Tom served as the principal and athletic director for Anadarko a few years before being named superintendent of Anadarko Schools. Tom served in this capacity for sixteen years before retiring in 2012. Tom now spends his time following grandchildren and serving on several boards.
Tom’s wife of 42 years, Carolyn Cantrell, have four children and six grandchildren.
Kelly Chadwick - Western Texas College
From 1985-1992 Kelly Chadwick led the Lady Westerners formally of the Lady Dusters to new heights. During his time here he had an overall winning record of 134-82. He led the Lady’s to the Region V Tournament Championship in 1986-87 and again in 1988-89 as well as to the NJCAA National Tournament where they finished 4th in 1986-87 and 6th in 1988-89. These wins still remain as the only two Region V Tournament Championships and the only two teams to ever go to NJCAA National Tournament in the programs history. During his time here he also guided Pam Cox, Brenda Welch, and Nickey Allen, three of the six All-Americans in program history.
Prior to his time at Western Texas College he coached at Amarillo College from 1978-85 where he led them to an overall record of 161-76 and guided the Lady Bulldogs to 3 Region V Tournament Championships and to 3 NJCAA National Championship Tournament appearances with his highest finish coming in 1982-83 where they finished 5th overall. During his time at Amarillo College he had three girls achieve All-American recognition.
His athletes also succeeded off the court and went on to graduate from the junior colleges and move onto four year institutions. In a span of 12 years he had 46 players progress to a major university where 94% of these girls had graduated or in the process of graduating.
Britt Smith - Howard College
In 2016, Britt Smith completed his 13th and final season as the Head Coach at Howard College and his 10th year as the Director of Athletics. He served as Howard’s Head Baseball Coach and Athletic Director until July 1, 2016, at which time he decided to enter the private sector joining Perfect Game, a baseball scouting company, as the South Regional Director. In the time since, he has coordinated tournaments and showcases in the state of Texas, as well as, provide draft coverage for Perfect Game from the NCAA Division I level, down to high schools across the country. Most recently, he worked in 2018 in conjunction with Major League Baseball on a pace of play initiative, experimenting with ways to speed up the pace of the game at the Major League level with MLB’s Urban Youth Academy in Compton, California.
As the Director of Athletics at Howard, Smith was blessed to see each of the five sports on campus either win a National Championship or advance to the National Tournament during his tenure.
Smith ended his coaching career at Howard with a school record 552 wins in 13 seasons, 5 WJCAC Championships and 1 National Championship. Howard produced 8 players that have reached the Major League level during Smith’s tenure.
In 2015, the Howard Baseball program reached a number 3 national ranking which ended a streak of 8 consecutive years of reaching the number 1 position in the polls. The Hawks managed to finish the season at 43-14 and extended the longest consecutive post season streak in Region V that is currently intact as of the 2018 season. The 2015 Howard Hawks captured the WJCAC Conference Championship for the 5th time in Smith’s final 7 seasons with a 28-8 conference mark. In 2012, Howard became the first school in WJCAC history to win the conference title four years in a row with an impressive 112 wins and 16 loss record in conference play during that span. Coach Smith picked up a milestone win on April 6, 2015, against Midland College with a 20-12 victory, he achieved 500 coaching wins, all coming during his tenure at Howard. In his 13 seasons at the helm of the Howard program, the Hawks produced eighteen NJCAA All-Americans: Current Howard Head Coach Roberto Martinez (2004), Darby Brown (2005), Tyler Ladendorf (2008), Travis Sample (2008), Matt Curry (2008), Will Calhoun (2009), Zach Neal (2009), Miles Hamblin (2009), Joe Leftridge (2010), Burch Smith (2010) Tyler Collins (2011), Landon Steinhagen (2011), Logan Ehlers (2012), Jordan Allen (2012), Elliot Richoux (2012), Brandon Wagner (2015), Ryan McCarvel (2015), and Kenny Roder (2015). In addition, the Hawks produced the American Baseball Coaches Association National Player of the Year twice in Smith’s tenure, coming in back to back seasons with Tyler Collins (2011) and Jordan Allen (2012). Howard was also well represented with thirty-two players earning All-Southwest District, forty-seven players earning All-Region V, and ninty-two players named WJCAC All-Conference.
A Howard player won the Rawlings Southwest District Hitter of the Year Award in six of Smith’s 13 seasons in Big Spring. Roberto Martinez won the award in 2004 by hitting .448, 7 HR, 17 doubles and 70 RBI. Darby Brown turned the trick in 2005 by hitting .508, 17 HR, 27 doubles and 87 RBI and Tyler Ladendorf captured the title in 2008. Ladendorf, a 2nd round pick (60th overall) of the Minnesota Twins, led the nation with a .542 average and hit 16 HR, 29 doubles and drove in 84 runs. Will Calhoun joined the club in 2009, finishing the regular season with a .527 average, tops in the nation, 25 doubles and 10 home runs. Calhoun also doubled on the mound as a closer posting an 8-0-3 record with a 0.33 ERA. Tyler Collins won the award in 2011 after posting a .488 average, leading the nation with 19 homeruns, clubbing a school record 34 doubles and driving in 82 runs. Jordan Allen followed that with a nation’s best .519 average, 24 doubles, 9 homeruns and led the country with 73 runs batted in. Howard had the WJCAC Homerun leader in eight of Smith’s thirteen seasons at the helm of the Hawks. The program produced the Conference Most Valuable Player in 7 of those campaigns with Brandon Wagner earning the award in 2015. Jordan Allen was recognized in 2012, Tyler Collins earned the award in 2011 joining Joe Leftridge (2010), Monk Kreder (2009), Tyler Ladendorf (2008) and Darby Brown (2005). Southpaw Kenny Roder was named Most Valuable Pitcher of the WJCAC in 2015 which was the sixth such award for the Hawks. Austin Solecitto (2014), Logan Ehlers (2012), Michael Franco (2011), Burch Smith (2010) and Zach Neal (2009) are the other Hawk pitchers to win the award. Rawlings recognized five Hawks in Smith’s tenure with the prestigious Gold Glove Award. Catcher, Miles Hamblin and center fielder Runey Davis were members of the Rawlings Gold Glove Team in 2009, center fielder Joe Leftridge was selected in 2010 and left fielders Tyler Collins and Jordan Allen were awarded in 2011 and 2012 respectively. In 2009, Runey Davis was selected by Easton as the National Defensive Player of the Year for his outstanding efforts in the field. Offensively, Howard ranked in the top 5 in the nation in nine of Smith’s 13 years and the 2008, 2009 and 2011 squads won National Team Batting Titles. Howard College Baseball finished a five-year run with 247 wins against 45 defeats and posted two impressive winning streaks in that span. The 2009 National Championship team won a record 57 straight games to open the season and the Hawks also put together a stretch of 53 consecutive conference wins between 2008 and 2010.
The Hawks gained national recognition with a 63-1 record in 2009. Howard claimed the NJCAA National Championship which was the second national title for the school. The Howard Baseball Program received national attention in 2009, as they completed the regular season with a 54-0 record. This is longest undefeated regular season in college baseball history. The winning streak extended to 57 consecutive wins surpassing the previous record of 55 by Seminole State College (OK) set in 1987. This became the longest winning streak in college baseball history at any level of play. Smith was honored with WJCAC, NJCAA Southwestern District and NJCAA National Coach of the Year Awards by the American Baseball Coaches Association. The Western Junior College Athletic Conference has selected Smith as the Coach of the Year on five occasions from 2009 through 2012 and again in 2015. Coach Smith served as an officer in the Texas-New Mexico Junior College Coaches Association from 2005 through 2010, including a two-year term as president in 2009-2010. Smith served as the Baseball Chair for the WJCAC and as a representative of NJCAA Region V for his final seven years at Howard.
The Howard program had an interest in community service as well under the guidance of Coach Smith. The Hawks made countless trips to local elementary schools to take part in reading programs and helped with fund raising programs for these schools. With the help of local businessman Mike Abusaab, the Hawks raised money for Relay for Life. Abusaab donated for each homerun the Hawks tallied over the last 11 seasons and together a total of $7,205 was raised in their efforts. Howard College was also involved with the Susan G. Komen Foundation for breast cancer research. The Annual Breast Cancer Awareness Game at Jack Barber Field, sponsored by D-Bat, Bear Claw Knives, Burns Graphics and many others, was used in an effort to raise money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation. The Hawks helped raise $4,622 in an effort to battle breast cancer and raise awareness for the cause. Howard started an annual event in 2011 honoring those who have served our country with a Military Appreciation Day. Saturday, April 23, 2011 against conference rival New Mexico Junior College, was the inaugural game and the Hawks were honored to have veterans Bob Underwood, T.C. Stockwell, and Bobby Brasel throw out first pitches for the game. In 2012, the Hawks looked internally to recognize students at Howard College that served their country proudly and honored Student Government Association Vice-President and Howard College Diplomat Michael Martinez and Frank Garza for their service in the armed forces.
Smith, a native of Mobile, Alabama, served as an assistant coach from 1996 through 2003 at the Division I, Division II, NAIA, and NJCAA levels of competition. He began his coaching Career at West Texas A&M University where he served as an assistant to Coach Todd Howey from 1996-1998. While in Canyon, the Buffaloes earned national recognition by leading the NCAA Division II in team batting average (.383), doubles, RBI, and runs per game. After the 1998 season, Smith accepted a position as the pitching coach at Lubbock Christian University. The Chaparrals posted a 52-19 record in his only season at LCU. Smith’s pitching staff included All-American Paco Escamilla, who led the nation in strikeouts per game at 14.9. The Chaps finished ranked in the top 10 nationally and had six players move on to play professionally. Coach Smith then accepted a position at Texas Tech University where he stayed from 1999-2001. While at Tech, the Red Raiders finished 4th and 2nd in the Big XII respectively, advancing to NCAA Regional play during both campaigns, and finishing the 2001 season ranked 21st in the country. Coach Smith then moved to Howard College as an assistant and helped lead the Hawks to the NJCAA Region V Tournament berth in his first season, he became the Hawks’ Head Coach in August of 2003.
Smith played for Fort Worth Arlington Heights High School under Head Coach Tommy Elliot. Smith finished his collegiate playing career in 1996 with a school record .396 batting average while being named an All Lone Star Conference outfielder at West Texas A&M. During his tenure in Canyon, Smith set conference and school records for hits in a game (6) and walks in a game (5).
Coach Smith graduated from West Texas A&M with a bachelor’s degree of Kinesiology in 1996 and a master’s degree in Sports and Exercise Sciences in 1998. He married the former Wendy Morris of Tyler, Texas in July of 1999. The couple currently resides in Bullard, Texas and has three children, Bailey Nicole (15), Logan Joseph (13) and Berkley Elizabeth (7).
Steve McLeery - New Mexico Junior College
For over 32 years, Steve McCleery dedicated his time and energy to build, advance, and lead New Mexico Junior College and its athletic programs into one of the premier higher-learning institutions in New Mexico. Under his leadership, the Thunderbirds have won several National and Regional championships, as well as several individual national athletic titles, that have brought prestige to being a Thunderbird.
Arriving at NMJC in 1984 as Coordinator of Caster Activity Center, McCleery maintained and promoted a robust community fitness program, coordinated all NMJC Intramural programs, taught several classes, and managed all events at Caster Activity Center. He was also the Thunderbirds Women’s Basketball coach for the 1986-87 season.
McCleery then became Director of Athletics in 1988, creating the Thunderbirds Booster Club to support all NJCAA sports at New Mexico Junior College. He oversaw all compliance issues and eligibility records for athletes, managed all athletic facilities, hired faculty, coordinated fitness programs, and served as liaison between the community, the staff and the athletic department.
McCleery’s career grew at NMJC, first as Dean of Arts and Sciences from 1991-1998, then as President of the college from 1998 until he retired in 2016. During his tenure, enrollment grew and facilities were added and remodeled, including new student housing, expansion of student services facilities, installation of smart technology in classrooms, a new workforce training center, a museum, and more. Assets of the NMJC Foundation were expanded to give more scholarships to deserving students; and online classes were created to offer additional educational opportunities. The financial health of the college continued to grow under McCleery’s leadership, guided by strategic planning and master planning activities.
Steve McCleery was an exceptional leader, a trusted mentor to students and a groundbreaker in education.
Ray Birmingham - New Mexico Junior College
The long list of awards and recognition keeps growing for former New Mexico Junior College baseball coach Ray Birmingham.
Birmingham earned the honor of being inducted in the WJCAC Hall of Fame by building NMJC baseball from a first-year program in 1990 into a national powerhouse – culminating in an NJCAA national championship in 2005 and an NJCAA national runner-up finish in 2007. Birmingham guided the Thunderbirds to six WJCAC titles and seven WJCAC runner-up finishes.
“It’s an honor to be in the WJCAC Hall of Fame and represent the city and county that I grew up in,” Birmingham said. “NMJC and Lea County gave me the opportunity and I’ll never forget that. I will always be a Lea Countian until the day I die.”
Birmingham is also a member of the NJCAA Hall of Fame (2011), the Lea County Sports Hall of Fame (2012) and the New Mexico Sports Hall of Fame (2015).
Birmingham finished his Thunderbird career with an eye-popping .750 winning percentage (765-255-2), including 17 consecutive winning season to finish his tenure at NMJC – which came to an end after the 2007 season when he accepted the head coaching position at New Mexico. Following the program’s first season, the T-Birds were at least 12 games over .500 in his final 17 seasons, including an incredible 378-88-2 (.810) from 2000-07.
Under Birmingham's leadership, New Mexico Junior College became known for its hitting prowess with six former players leading the country in batting and six teams hitting above .400. The Thunderbirds hit .416 as a team in 2007. The 2005 NMJC national championship team hit .411 during the regular season and .400 in postseason play. In 2001, the Thunderbirds displayed one of the most impressive offensive machines in college baseball history, hitting .438 as a team. NMJC led the country in home runs (122) in 1998.
Despite national championships, international victories and jaw-dropping numbers on the diamond, Birmingham is most proud of his former players during his tenure with the T-Birds. NMJC closer Brendan Donnelly (1990-91) won Game 6 for the Anaheim Angels in the 2002 World Series, and became the first T-Bird with an MLB championship ring. A year later, Armando Almanza (1992-93) was a member of the World Champion Florida Marlins. In the summer of 2003, Donnelly was the winning pitcher in the MLB All-Star game in Chicago.
Birmingham also watched proudly as former NMJC players Jose Flores (1992-93) and Mike Vento (1997) participated in the MLB playoffs with Oakland and the New York Yankees, respectively. Johnny Lujan and David Carpenter are the most recent former NMJC players to be make noise with a big league organization.
Birmingham’s success has translated to The University of New Mexico. He guided the Lobos to their first NCAA postseason appearance in 48 years in 2010 - just his third season at the helm - and has since taken UNM to the NCAA postseason five of the last seven seasons. Birmingham guided the Lobos to Mountain West regular-season titles from 2011-14 and to Mountain West Tournament titles in 2011, 2012 and 2016. He was named Mountain West Coach of the Year in 2012 and 2013.
Overall Birmingham is the winningest coach in state history.
Joe Tubb - South Plains College
Joe Tubb served as the Director of Athletics for South Plains College for 33 years, leading the Texans and Lady Texans to a combined 42 NJCAA championships in men’s and women’s track and field, cross country, half-marathon, and men’s basketball.
During his tenure, which began in 1983, Tubb’s programs claimed a combined 15 Western Junior College Athletic Conference (WJCAC) championships and eight Region 5 tournament titles.
Under Tubb’s direction, the college has also hosted 14 NJCAA Championship events, including the 2016 Division I Outdoor Track and Field National Championships, which saw the Texans make collegiate history, capturing their 10th consecutive national title.
In addition to his duties leading the SPC Athletic Department, Tubb served a three-year term as President of the NJCAA where he was responsible for a myriad of duties including presiding over annual, executive, and special meetings for the nation’s second largest intercollegiate athletic association.
Tubb has served in multiple capacities over the years and has been instrumental in the growth of two-year collegiate athletics. He was the recipient of the highest honor bestowed by the National Alliance of Two-Year Collegiate Athletic Administrators (NATYCAA) when he was presented the L. William Miller Award at a special ceremony in Dallas on June 25, 2012. In 2006 and 2010, Tubb was named Athletic Director of the Year by the National Association of College Athletic Directors (NACDA).
Each of SPC’s 42 NJCAA national championships occurred under Tubb’s watch, and the 2011-12 season was one of the most successful in the history of SPC athletics. South Plains’ athletes brought home national titles in the women’s half-marathon, men’s basketball, and men's and women’s outdoor track and field. The Texan basketball team became only the sixth team in history to complete an undefeated season en-route to claiming the NJCAA national championship. They also won the basketball championship in 2008.
Tubb coached and taught math in high school for 12 years with stints at Palo Duro, Hereford, Shallowater, and Odessa High School. During this time, he was a head golf coach, assistant football coach, and a head basketball coach. After winning the 4-5A District Championship in basketball in 1983, and being named District Coach of the Year, he returned to his alma mater when he accepted the role of Director of Athletics.
Brad Winter - New Mexico Junior College
After graduating from Highland High School in Albuquerque, NM, Winter continued on to New Mexico Junior College in Hobbs, NM where he received his Associates of Arts in 1972. While there, he was a NJCAA National Championship Team Member (’71), finished 2nd in Pole Vault at the National Meet jumping 15’ 9” (’71), and set the NJCAA Pole Vault record at 16’ 9” (’72).
He received his Bachelors at the University of Oklahoma in 1976. While at the University of Oklahoma, Brad competed in (’73, ’74) and won (’73) the Big 8 Conference Championships, clearing 17’ in events. Brad achieved All-American status as a pole vaulter.
Dr. Winter continued on to complete his Masters at the University of New Mexico in 1979, and his Doctorate of Education at the University of New Mexico in 1995.
Dr. Winter began his career in education as a professor at New Mexico Junior College. While there, he coached at NMJC as an assistant. While coaching during a meet at Odessa College, Dr. Winter cleared 17’1” at age 37. He also set an American Record at a meet in Baton Rouge, LA for his age group.
Dr. Winter then commenced a 22-year career with Albuquerque Public Schools. After his retirement as Chief Operations Officer, Dr. Winter was named Interim Superintendent by the Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education from August 2014- June 2015.
Brad Winter is serving his fourth term as an Albuquerque City Councilor, and is currently the longest serving seated councilor. He has served as Council President four times during his tenure. On December 15, 2015, he was appointed by Governor Martinez to serve as the interim Secretary of State for the State of New Mexico, making him the first man to have the job since 1922.
In June of 2016, Dr. Winter competed in the NM Senior Games as a pole vaulter, and qualified to attend the US Senior Olympics in Birmingham, AL in summer of 2017.
Dr. Winter is also an avid fly fisherman. He is married to Nann Winter and they have seven children.
Don Stevens - Howard College
Don Stevens, who retired from Howard College in 1989, was nominated for the WJCAC Hall of Fame by Howard College for his direct impact on student athletes at Howard College and women’s basketball across the state and nation.
Stevens was at the helm of Hawk women’s basketball from 1976 – 1989 tallying up a record of 262 wins and 130 losses. During his tenure with Howard College, he led the Hawks to several conference championships and regional championships, in addition to NJCAA National Tournament appearances.
Stevens was a graduate of Lamesa High School and Texas Tech University. After graduating from high school, he brought his basketball talent to Howard College where he played as a Hawk for two years and followed that up with one year at Corpus Christi University before transferring to Texas Tech to finish his education. He spent two years in the military and was a player / coach of the First Infantry Division Basketball Team in Fort Riley, Kansas.
The local schools are no stranger to Stevens as he began his coaching career in the Big Spring Junior High program coaching all sports. From there, he spent an additional ten years at Forsan High School where he coached both boy’s and girl’s basketball where he left an impressive legacy.
Not only has Stevens coached at the state-side level, he was also chosen as one of seven American coaches in 1973 to lead coaching clinics in Mexico City, Vera Cruz, and other Mexican cities. While there, he was privileged to work with the women’s Olympic team.
Coach Stevens has been honored at several levels across high school and college level combined for his dedication to improving the lives of students and promotion of the game of basketball.
Don Stevens passed away on December 6, 2015.
Jim Watkins - Odessa College
Paul Chavez - Odessa College
Skipper Driver - Howard College
Skipper Driver, an accomplished calf roper, team roper, and steer wrestler, took the helm as the head rodeo coach at Howard College in 1979 where he helped carry on his tradition of excellence for more than 10 years.
Always a “hands-on” coach, he took his rodeo team to the top level every year as they made the trip to the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) Finals Rodeo.
At Texas Tech University, Driver was a member of the collegiate rodeo team where he qualified for the NIRA Finals Rodeo on two different occasions and was also named the Southwest Regional Champion calf roper in 1965. Aside from being on the rodeo team, he served two terms as president of the Tech Rodeo Association and was named winner of the Dub Parks Memorial Award.
His ties to professional rodeo began early and carried out through his life as he was a Gold Card member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association and served as director of the Big Spring Cowboy Reunion.
Skipper Driver passed away on April 20, 2011 at the age of 67.
Lisa Risinger - South Plains College
One of the earliest Lady Texan basketball stars, Lisa Risinger was an outstanding player for South Plains College during the 1975-76 and 1976-77 seasons and became the first Lady Texan basketball All-American following her sophomore campaign.
During her All-American sophomore year, Risinger helped lead the Lady Texans to a 27-4 record as well as Western Junior College Athletic Conference (WJCAC) and Region 5 championships and finished fifth at the NJCAA national tournament.
In addition to earning All-American honors, Risinger completed her career at South Plains College as a two-time All-Conference and All-Region player with 876 points and 389 rebounds. She then transferred to North Texas State University in Denton where she became the first female athlete to be inducted into the University of North Texas Hall of Fame in 1992.
Entering the 2012-13 basketball season, Risinger remained at the top of the Mean Green record book with a scoring average of 18.4 points per game from 1977-79. Despite playing only two years, Risinger ranks eighth in North Texas history with 1,101 points, seventh in field goals made with 457, and also made 47-percent of her shots, good for sixth on the career list.
As part of South Plains College’s celebration of the 20th anniversary of women’s basketball, Risinger was inducted into the Texan Hall of Fame in November 1994.
Mookie Blaylock - Midland College
Larry Johnson - Odessa College
Sally Kipyego - South Plains College
Sally Kipyego arrived at South Plains College in January 2005. By the time she had graduated a year and a half later, she had become the most decorated Lady Texan track and field athlete in South Plains College history and, arguably, the greatest female distance runner the NJCAA had ever seen.
During her time competing at South Plains College, Sally won seven NJCAA championships and, as of 2013, holds school records in the outdoor 1500M Run, 3000M Run, 5000M Run, and 10000M Run. At both the 2005 and 2006 NJCAA Outdoor Championships, Sally was a three-peat champion in the 1500, 5000, and 10000-meter races was named Female Track Athlete of the Meet at both the 2005 and 2006 NJCAA Outdoor Championships. As of her induction to the WJCAC Hall of Fame, she holds NJCAA meet records in the 1500 and 5000M distances.
Perhaps her greatest honor while attending SPC was being named the recipient of the 2006 NJCAA Betty Jo Graber Female Student Athlete of the Year award, which is awarded annually to the top female student-athlete in the NJCAA that best exhibits hard work, discipline, ethics and excellence in competition. Balancing school and athletics is what made Kipyego stand out. During her tenure at SPC, Sally was undefeated against two-year collegiate athletes and maintained a 3.34 grade point average.
Sally did not miss a beat when she left South Plains College for NCAA Division I Texas Tech, where she became one of the most decorated distance runners in history, winning nine NCAA championships, tied for most all-time. She is also the only female in NCAA history to win three consecutive NCAA Cross Country Championships.
In May 2009, Sally received a bachelor’s degree in Nursing, but her running career was still going strong as she joined up with the elite Oregon Track Club. In 2011, Sally’s took her running to yet another level when she ended her season with a Silver Medal at the 2011 World Championships in the 10,000-meter run for her native Kenya and making her a medal threat at the 2012 London Olympics where she earned another Silver Medal in the 10,000 and just missed a medal with a fourth place finish in the 5,000-meter run.
Curtis Marshall - New Mexico Military Institute
Buddy Travis - Howard College
Buddy Travis began his storied career in basketball in 1949 as he played at Amarillo College. While there, he was named first team All American and set a scoring record with 40 points in one game.
He then moved on to his first coaching position at Clarendon College and led his team to a West Zone (previous name for WJCAC) conference championship before heading to Howard College.
In 1959, Travis found his stride in coaching and in his first year with Howard, he led the team to a West Zone conference championship, a regional championship, a state championship and a 5th place finish at the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) national tournament. The team ended his inaugural season with a 34-4 record.
The years to come held numerous records for Coach Travis bringing home several conference and regional championships. When he left Howard College, after 11 years of coaching, he had a win-loss record of 506-263 under his belt in the Western Conference.
Angie Braziel - South Plains College
Angie Braziel was an outstanding basketball player for the South Plains College Lady Texans under former coach and NJCAA Hall of Famer Lyndon Hardin during the 1995-96 and 1996-97 seasons.
During her sophomore campaign Braziel led the Lady Texans to a record of 26 wins and only 5 losses and a spot in the Region 5 semi-final game. Braziel was a starter in 29-of-the-30 games she played in and for the season led the Lady Texans in scoring (15.5), rebounding (9.1), blocks (1.9), and steals (2.5). The 6’2 post from Odessa even ranked fourth on the squad in assists (2.2). For her efforts, Braziel was named to the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) All-American second team. The Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) and Kodak honored her as an All-American as well.
Upon completing her eligibility at South Plains College, Braziel moved east and took her talents to Texas Tech University where she helped the Lady Raiders to consecutive Big 12 season and tournament championships as well as appearances in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament. As a senior Braziel started every game for the Lady Raiders during a season in which they finished with a 30-4 record and advanced to the ‘Sweet 16’ of the NCAA tournament before falling to Rutgers. The Lady Raiders have not experienced another 30 win season since the 1998-1999 season (as of August 2011).
Braziel was named Most Valuable Player of the Big 12 tournament in 1999 as well as the Big 12 Player of the Year after leading the Lady Raiders with 20 points and nearly nine rebounds per game. Braziel was also named to four All-American teams for the 1998-99 season: The United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA), the Associated Press, Women’s Basketball Journal, and the Women’s Basketball News Service. Entering the 2011-12 academic year, Braziel still ranks highly in several single season Lady Raider categories including fifth with 690 points in 1998-99, third in field goals made, and fifth in blocked shots.
Braziel’s success at both South Plains and Texas Tech landed her an opportunity to play at the highest level when she was drafted by the Charlotte Sting of the WNBA following the 1998-99 NCAA season. Although injuries forced her retirement from the league after only three years, Braziel has remained heavily involved in the sport when she had stints as an assistant junior high and high school coach and is now the head coach of the Odessa Permian high school girls’ basketball team.
Reggie Franklin - New Mexico Military Institute
Julian Pressely - Odessa College
Bob Schneider - Clarendon College
Brad Swindig - Midland College
Lewis Lloyd - New Mexico Military Institute
Dennis Patton - South Plains College
Dennis Patton began his relationship with South Plains College when he was recruited to wear a Texan basketball jersey by Coach Bill Powell in 1964.
As co-captain of the 1965-66 squad, Patton helped lead the Texans to their first WJCAC conference championship with a record of 21 wins and 11 losses and was named to the all-WJCAC and all-Region teams for his efforts.
In 1972 he joined the SPC faculty as director of the Natatorium and served as assistant coach of the basketball team before becoming head coach in 1974. After six seasons guiding the Texans, Patton entered private business and would go on to be elected into the Texan Club Hall of Fame in 1993 and then to the SPC Board of Regents in 1994, a position he held until his death in July 2007.
All total, Patton served South Plains College for 23 years as a student-athlete, assistant coach, head coach, and member of the Board of Regents.
Anna Smith - Howard College
Anna Smith, who joined the Howard College family in 1959 and retired in 1977, was the Director of Women’s Physical Education, Dean of Women and eventually Dean of Students. Throughout her tenure with the Hawks, she coached women’s volleyball and basketball as well as men’s and women’s varsity tennis.
Smith has served on various committees and boards on both a local and statewide basis advocating for youth.
She served on the Executive Board for the Texas Association for Health, Physical Education and Recreation and was a member of the committee that was instrumental in getting health education recognized on all levels in our public schools.
Additionally, she was selected as a regional member of the Governor’s Council on Life Time Sports.
Anna Smith passed away on September 4, 2011.
Kathy Whitworth - Odessa College
Bo Outlaw - South Plains College
Bo Outlaw began his Texan career in the fall of 1989. A gangly, athletic presence at 6-foot-8, 200 pounds, Outlaw was named honorable mention All-WJCAC his freshman year. Outlaw then led the Texans to a 32-1 record in the 1990-91 campaign and was named an NJCAA All-American and transferred to the University of Houston.
Undrafted out of college, Outlaw played in the CBA before being picked up by the Los Angeles Clippers in 1993. In 1997, Outlaw began his first season with the Orlando Magic.
The 1997-98 season may very well be Outlaw’s finest in a fantastic career as he averaged 36 minutes per game, and played in all 82 regular season games that year. Known as the “hustler,” the Magic implemented the “Bo Hustle Award” for employees who exemplify Bo’s characteristics. Bo retired from Orlando in 2008 after 15 years in the NBA and currently works in the Magic front office as the Director of Community Relations.
Sheryl Swoopes - South Plains College
Bill Griffin - Howard College
Coach Bill Griffin, who has been inducted into the Western Junior College Athletic Conference Hall of Fame as a member of the class of 2007, led the Howard College Baseball Program for 9 seasons and built an impressive legacy in the process.
During his tenure as the Hawks’ skipper, he led the program to 347 wins, two conference crowns, two regional titles, one state title and the 1991 NJCAA National Championship. He was twice named the National Coach of the Year and was inducted into the NJCAA Hall of Fame in 1983 and has a lifetime record of 986-405 with a lifetime winning percentage of .708.
While at Howard College from 1982-1992, Griffin held several other positions, clearly a “pro” at multi-tasking. He served as the Dean of Student Services for 6 years, as the Athletic Director for 8 years and as an Assistant Professor for 3 years. He did all of this while he was coaching baseball! Although his claim to fame lies on the baseball field, we know that he had an equally strong impact on the many student lives he touched. His wisdom and guidance for the students and his peers were invaluable.
His storied career also includes accomplishments such as being selected by the American Baseball Federation as one of four coaches chosen to coach in the World Baseball Games held in the Republic of China, which was a forerunner of baseball being introduced into the Olympic Games in 1980. Throughout his career, he has coached 23 All-Americans and has had 64 players drafted into professional baseball. Forty of the 64 players were drafted during his tenure with the Hawks.
The highest recognition or accomplishment for a player or a coach is to have their number retired. For a permanent recognition of Coach Griffin’s career achievements and induction into the WJCAC Hall of Fame, the number 39 was officially retired on April 27, 2007 and will not be worn again at Howard College.
Ron Mayberry - South Plains College
Ron Mayberry won over 800 games in his career as a head basketball coach with 386 of those wins coming at the junior college level.
After 12 years as a high school coach, Mayberry started his coaching career in 1976 at Midland College. He followed that with coaching stints at Odessa College, Wayland Baptist University, Kilgore College, South Plains College and Howard College.
While at South Plains College he posted an eight-year record of 212-60. His 1991 team was ranked No. 2 in the nation all season, while his 1992 team finished fifth at the NJCAA national tournament. In 44 years as a basketball coach, Mayberry never had a losing record at any school he coached (16 schools).
He coached teams into the playoffs for 19 straight years and was named Coach of the Year 11 times including National Coach of the Year once. He coached in three different Texas All-Star games and coached and recruited 11 players that made it to the NBA.
Ross Black - New Mexico Junior College
Ross Black was New Mexico Junior College’s first athletic director, first head men’s basketball coach, first head track coach and was chair of the NMJC physical education department. He was inducted into the Western Junior College Athletic Conference Hall of Fame in 2006.
Black led the 1971 NMJC men’s track team to become national champions, and was selected as the National Junior College Track and Field Coach of the Year for 1971. He served as President of the National Junior College Track and Field Coaches Association for three years. In 1973, he went to Moscow as one of the United States track coaches in the World University Games, where he saw the two American relay teams that were his responsibility bring home the only two gold medals that the U.S. won in the track and field competition.
Black was honored as the New Mexico School Administrator of the Year in 1987 and was inducted into the New Mexico Activities Association Hall of Fame in 1991. He became Superintendent of the Lovington, NM Municipal School District, and later served on the Lovington, NM County Commission, becoming Chairman of the Commission.
Black passed away in 2013 at the age of 82.
Red Lewis - Howard College
Leslie Lee “Red” Lewis, inducted into the Western Junior College Athletic Conference Hall of Fame as a member of the class of 2006, put Howard College on the map winning four national track championships – 1961, 1962, 1963, and 1967 and 11 Western Conference championships.
Coach Lewis obtained his Bachelor of Science degree from Hardin Simmons University in 1941 and his Masters of Science degree from North Texas University. He served In the United States Air Force during WWII as a navigator and taught navigation to Chinese navigators. He also ferried planes of officers to England, India, and Africa.
In addition to his time as a math professor and track coach at Howard College, Coach Lewis spent time at Cisco Junior College as a football and basketball coach and math professor and at Dallas Baptist College as a math professor, football and wrestling coach.
Coach Lewis was selected as Coach of the Decade by the Texas Sports Writer’s Association and served as president of the National Junior College Track Association. He retired from Howard College in 1979.
Leslie Lee “Red” Lewis passed away in February of 1996.
Paul Pressey - Western Texas College
Jerry Stone - Midland College
Ron Black - New Mexico Junior College
*Head men’s basketball coach at NMJC from 1978-99
*Served as Secretary-Treasurer of WJCAC from 1968 to 1978
*During his term, developed the first conference Letter of Intent
*Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach at NMJC 1970 to 1978
*Career Record 414-287
*Won Regional Championship 1994-95 and 1995-96
*Lost by one point in the Region V 1997-98 Championship game
*Coached two All-Americans, Richard Hollis and Greg Brown
*Had 8 former players play professionally, including Avery Johnson of the NBA
Harold Davis - Howard College
Harold Davis graduated from Denton High School in 1941 at the age of 15. He attended the University of North Texas for three years where he lettered on the basketball team and helped lead the team to a third place finish at the National Tournament.
During World War II he joined the United States Marine Corps Officer Training Program. During this time he was able to complete his Bachelors Degree from Louisiana Tech University. After completing Boot Camp and Officer Training School, and receiving his Commission, he was assigned to the Fourth Marine Corps Division in the Pacific. During the battle of Iwo Jima, Harold was wounded and received the Purple Heart. Despite his wounds, he continued in command of his company and withheld a strong enemy counterattack accounting for more than 100 Japanese being annihilated. For this action he was awarded the Silver Star Medal.
After returning from the war and accepting the position as the first basketball coach at Howard College, it took him only two years to start a basketball dynasty. In only four years his young teams had participated in three NJCAA basketball tournaments, and won both a Conference Championship and State Championship.
As a member of the United States Marine Corps Reserve, Davis was recalled into the Marine Corps for the Korean War. After returning from this tour of duty, he picked up right where he left off with his coaching duties at Howard College. His first team finished the year with 34 wins and 4 losses and won the Conference Championship, Regional Championship and reached the Final Four at the NJCAA National Tournament. From that year on his teams averaged 24 wins and only 8 losses per season.
In his 11 years at Howard College, his teams won four Conference Championships, qualified for nine NJCAA Regional Tournaments and earned a berth in five State Tournaments, winning one of them. His Jayhawk squads finished twice as the Regional Finalist and twice were crowned Regional Champions advancing to the NJCAA National Tournament; reaching the Final Four in one tournament. In addition to coaching basketball, he also coached the baseball team winning several championships and led the golf team to two State Championships.
Davis was appointed as a member of the Howard College Board of Trustees in 1971, and then subsequently elected to the position six times by the voters, serving for 37 years until the time of his death. He served as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees on several occasions. He also served as a director for the Howard College San Angelo Foundation.
Davis has been the recipient of many other honors in addition to the recognition he received for his actions on Iwo Jima. He was named Big Spring’s Man of the Year in 1997. He received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of North Texas in 2000 and was named Paul Harris Fellow by Rotary International. Other prestigious honors include inductions to the Texas Junior College Coaches Hall of Honor, Howard College’s Athletic Hall of Fame, and the Western Junior College Athletic Association “Hall of Fame” as the first inductee. In recognition of his leadership in the establishment of a successful athletic program tradition and in honor of his service to Howard College, the Physical Education Building was named the “Harold Davis Fitness Center” in 1990 and the basketball court in the Coliseum arena was named in his honor on the occasion of his induction to the WJCAC Hall of Fame in 2005.
Harold Davis passed away on October 13, 2008 at the age of 84.
Bobby Lesley - Clarendon College
David Murphy - Frank Phillips College
Bill Powell - South Plains College
Hired in 1958, Bill Powell was the first person to direct the athletic department and coach men’s basketball at South Plains College.
Powell, who recruited his first players at local pick-up games, led SPC to its first WJCAC title in 1964 before stepping down as coach in 1967.
During his tenure at SPC from 1958-1980, Coach Powell played a vital role in every aspect of the athletic department as he coached the golf team until 1973.
In the spring of 1975 he filled in to coach the newly formed women’s basketball program, and served as chairperson of the physical education department until his retirement in 1980.
Delnor Poss - Midland College
Nolan Richardson - Western Texas College
Roger Staubach - New Mexico Military Institute