Big Country Sports Hall of Fame

Big Country Sports Hall of Fame

By Joe Starkey

 

 

 

The Big Country Sports Hall of Fame was established in 1988. Mr. Louis Kelley of that first class of inductees attended this 22nd year honors dinner. He coached in Lubbock and attended Woodson High School.Lynn Corn Clark is the first Wylie graduate to be selected for the Big Country Sports Hall of Fame. She set records at Wylie that still stand. She earned the honor as Miss Basketball of Texas her senior year. She thanked her father as “Dad always believed in me even when I didn’t” and always encouraged her. {{more}}The Legacy Award is given to an individual or group that left a lasting impression on sports. This year the award went to the Pat Gerald family of Sweetwater. Son “Pat” Gerald thanked the Sweetwater fans as “there could be no games without them.” The granddaughter presented for her father saying that he taught both her and his teams a great work ethic. Pat accepted the award “in the name of those who cannot be here and those that came”.Mr. Oris Greever attributed his selection to working with great people, luck and support from many people. He admitted a specific mistake in refereeing a Texas Tech vs HSU freshman game. He then told the audience “it’s human to make errors but I was blessed to work with great people.” He told of one game where the referees had to change in the school offices instead of at the stadium. Their clothes were in an office and when they went to shower – that office was accidently locked leaving them with just their towels. Finally they found a kid’s sweatpants and a Sweetwater jersey. He was selected to go seek help. It happened to be Halloween and the first people he found really thought he was part of a Halloween joke. He finally convinced someone to open the office so they could get their clothes and go home. He ended with a poem “I’m way too slow but my whistle I can still blow. I can throw the flag but to pick it up – I lag.”Jon Harrison still holds most of the single-season receiving records at Cooper High School where he also served as an assistant coach before retiring last year. He stated “induction is not about me but honors my team mates. Coaches taught us to work hard and good would happen.” If you messed up in class, there would be consequences. You had to bend over and grab your ankles and you would receive a “racing stripe.” He remembered messing up in class and the teacher gave him a stripe. The athletic department would also give him one later that day and another would come when he got home that day.Merkel’s Robert McLeod starred in both basketball and football both in High School and college at ACU. He spent six years with the Houston Oilers. He remembered that “Friday nite was football. Saturday morning the team gathered and talked about coaches’ mistakes, Officials missed calls and then NEXT Friday nite’s game. He lost a tooth in a collision with Bob Lily in the old gym at Merkel. There was only 3 feet from the goal to the wall. Last he remembered going from the coaches comments at Abilene Christian University to the professional leagues and the language of ex-pro lineman coaches. He just remarked that it was a “Big Difference.”Andrae Patterson earned the title of Mr. Basketball for Class 5A in Texas his senior year and went on to start four years for Bobby Knight at Indiana University. He spent three years with the Minnesota Timberwolves before spending the last nine playing in the European Professional Basketball League. His comment was that “it is really good to be back in the US.” He also remembered that Coach Knight had a “different vocabulary” than he heard in Abilene. He thanked his mother for “holding the hammer down” so that he worked in school rather than basketball being his life. He has just finished his degree at Indiana University, started a job as assistant coach at the University of Texas. He said this is the start of the second chapter of his life and he intends to give back to kids.Stuart Peake started every game for all three years of Abilene High’s three consecutive state championship teams and was the only player to do so. He played offensive guard and defensive end. He thanked his coaches “as they did not just teach sports but taught life skills.” Coach Mosely told his team “You may not be the smartest in class but you will be the best. That means be there every day, do all your work, and never act up. If you do – I will fix the problem.” This meant running a full mile in pads after practice. “only coaches and their moms love guards” so they don’t get a lot of off-field attention but the 49 straight wins and 3 State Championship got almost every senior that started a college scholarship and degrees that their parents would not have been able to afford. At the end of his remembrances, he was presented with a letter from President George W. Bush.Jon Rhiddlehoover was inducted posthumously. His daughter remembered little talk about sports at home but passed on one thing he told her. “Esteem by your team mates is the greatest honor because they see you at your best and they see you at your worst so their esteem is as high an honor as you can get.” Louis Kelley of the first class of selectees. Photo by Joe StarkeyLynn Corn Clark. Photo by Joe StarkeyOris Greever. Photo by Joe StarkeyJon Harrison. Photo by Joe StarkeyRobert McLeod. Photo by Joe StarkeyAndrae Patterson. Photo by Joe StarkeyStuart Peake. Photo by Joe StarkeyCoach Rhiddlehoover’s children accepted the award for him. Photo by Joe StarkeyPat Gerald. Photo by Joe StarkeyGranddaughters of Pat Gerald. Photo by Joe Starkey