Big Country Hall of Fame Inductees
By Joe Starkey
The 2019 Class of the Big Country Hall of Fame included a couple of firsts. First was the induction of Jackie Ramsey Cox, a 1970 graduate of Abilene Cooper High School who was an All-American Skeet Shooter and seven time World Champion. A second first was Mark Oates, a 1981 graduate of Abilene High School, who is the most decorated gymnast in Abilene history and is the first gymnast selected to the Big Country Athletic Hall of Fame.
The 2019 Legacy Award goes to the Davis brothers (Ernie, Charlie and Donald) from Stamford. All three are in the McMurry University Athletic Hall of Honor and all were coaches during their careers.
Julie Ann Goodenough from Haskell played on the Western Texas college team that went to the National Junior College Athletic Association National Tournament. She was one of the first Big Country girls to receive a Division I Basketball scholarship. Julie won 433 games in 25 seasons as a college basketball coach. She’s been the head coach of Hardin Simmons University where under Goodenough, Hardin Simmons made the NCAA Division III Tournament four consecutive times from 1999 to 2002, including a trip to the Elite Eight in 2000. She has also been the head coach at Oklahoma State University. She is now the head coach at Abilene Christian University.
Lance Kitchens of Breckenridge received the Lifetime Achievement for Media Award. He has been the voice of the Buckaroo Sports since 1984 in Breckenridge. He has been on the sidelines calling Breckenridge football and basketball for the last 38 years.
John Lackey is the youngest of the inductees He was a three-sport standout at Abilene High School and pitched in the major leagues for the Los Angeles Angels, Boston Red Sox, St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs for 15 years. He is a three–time World Series champion and was the winning pitcher in the deciding game in two World Series.
Steve Warren led the Abilene High Eagles to the Class 5A Division II 2009 state football championship. He compiled a record of 175 wins against 68 losses in 19 seasons at Abilene High. He retired in 2014. His Eagles first reached the playoffs in 1999 and followed up by being in the playoffs 15 of the next 16 years.
Stanley Whisenhunt was the girls basketball coach at Abilene Wylie in the ‘60s and ‘70s. His team won 15 consecutive District championships and two Regional championships. They won the state title in 1970.
The Hall of Fame board of directors introduced a new award this year names “Impact on Big Country Athletics” Award for someone who doesn’t necessarily qualify as an athlete or coach but made a significant impact on the athletes of the Big Country. The first recipient was the late Myrle Greathouse. He passed away in 2000 and the annual Myrle Greathouse Big Country Fellowship of Christian Athletes All-Star football game is named in his honor for his support of youth sports in the Big Country. The Bill Hart Memorial Legends category honors those coaches and athletes who are deceased and participated in the Big Country 50 or more years ago. The first award went to Elijah Childers who graduated from Woodson High School in Abilene, before integration, where he was a three-year letterman in football, basketball and track. He started on offense and defense at Prairie View A & M where he was all SWAC in 1954 and 1955. He played for the Detroit Lions in 1955 and 1956 and the Cleveland Browns in 1957. The second recipient was Ellis Jones who played football at Abilene High from 1939 to 1941, he then played guard and linebacker at Tulsa where he was First-Team All-American and played for the college All-Stars in their annual game against the defending NFL Champion Chicago Bears in 1944. He played one year for the Boston Yankees in the NFL. He did all this despite having lost one arm in a childhood accident at age 11.
Scholarship Recipients this year were Nolan Baker of Stamford, Elisabeth and Mary Dantzler of Abilene, Rylan Duncan of Jim Ned, John David Dugger of Abilene, Zachary Foster of Comanche, Mary Lovelace of Abilene, Clayton Mercer of Comanche, Karter Morris of Aspermont, Bailey Proctor of Abilene, Haylee Sharp of Eula, Kenadee Shugart of Aspermont, Jillian Guinn of Albany and Allison Pierce of Abilene.
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