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Eight members inducted into Big Country Athletic Hall of Fame

By Janice Coleman



The Big Country Athletic Hall of Fame held it’s 2008 Induction Ceremony on April 28th at the Civic Center. Eight new members were inducted, two of them posthumously. Those members are Richard “Moose” Stovall , Rufus King , W.T. Stapler, Johnny “Ham” Jones, Bill Gilbreth, James Welch, Michi Atkins, and Scotty Pugh. Mr. Stovall joined in {{more}} the category of Lifetime Achievement for Officials. He played football at Abilene High and Abilene Christian College at that time. He then played for the Washington Redskins in 1949. He became a successful referee after his career ended. Mr. James Welch and Mr. Rufus King were teammates on state football championship teams at Abilene High. Mr. Welch went on to play in the NFL for the Baltimore Colts and Detroit Lions. Mr. King went to Rice University and earned all-Southwest Conference honors and played in the Sugar Bowl his senior year. Mr. Stapler played football in Hamlin and then McMurry College, but is known for his successful coaching career at Sweetwater, where he took the Mustangs to the Class 4A state semifinals. In 1985, Sweetwater won the state championship. From there, he was successful at Andrews, Brownwood, Winters and Conroe high schools. He had over 200 wins as a high school coach. Mr. Johnny Jones was an all-around athlete at Hamlin and aided the Pied Pipers in football playoffs as well as in winning state titles in track. He attended The University of Texas, where he was one of three Joneses to play in the backfield. He was known as “Ham” because he was from Hamlin. The second was “Lam” because he was from Lampasas, and the third was “Jam” because it rhymed with “Ham” and “Lam”! “Ham” and Earl Campbell combined for 2,233 yards rushing in 1977, which is the highest total for a duo in Longhorn history. Jones was MVP for Texas in the 1978 Sun Bowl where he rushed for over 100 yards and a touchdown. Mr. Gilbreth was an all-Southland Conference pitcher at ACU. He was NCAA strikeout leader with 134 strikeouts in 89 innings during that time. He went on to pitch for the Detroit Tigers and the California Angels. Later in 1991, he was named ACU’s baseball coach. Ms. Atkins is from Loraine, Tx and attended Texas Tech University and played basketball with the Lady Raiders’ national championship team in 1993. She was named all-Southwest Conference each of the next three years and SWC Player of the year twice. She was first-team All-American as a senior and averaged 20.9 points per game. She finished as leading scorer in Southwest Conference history with 2,134 points and 927 rebounds. Mr. Pugh was a member of the Abilene Cooper High back-to-back state championship baseball teams in 1987 and 1988. Pugh was a four-year starter in baseball, three-year starter at quarterback in football, and a three-year starter in basketball at point guard. He went on to be a three-year starter at first base at the University of Texas and led the Southwest Conference in batting average as a freshman. Pugh was also in the San Diego Padres Double-A organization. He went on to quarterback coach at Highland Park and was recently named as new head coach at Granbury High School. During the evening, the athletes were asked how they felt about being inducted. These are some of their responses to that question. Michi Atkins- “exhilarated, very happy, such an honor” Johnny “Ham” Jones- “It’s just a great honor and I just didn’t know what to think. I didn’t know they had this here and being inducted like that, it just really hasn’t hit me yet. I didn’t know it was this big. I think it’s a great thing. I’m hoping I’ll be sent some information for when the next one is going to be and I’ll take time to come back and support. I like it and I love the way they take some of the money and help people with scholarships and I just believe in that. I think this will continue to get bigger and anytime you can help other kids get an education, I think it’s great!” James Welch- “I was excited, happy, honored”. Bill Gilbreth- “Well, I got the call from Coach Wally Bullington. Of course, I’ve known him all my life, so it was a big thrill. In the back of your mind, you always hope you can get something like this, but maybe not really expect it. So coming from him, it’s a really big honor and being associated with these people who got inducted tonight, it’s really nice and very humbling.” Then the evening was over and the Big Country Athletic Hall of Fame has new members. Once again, TSTC and their Event Coordinator, Susie Clack, along with Al Pickett, Chairman of the Board for the Big Country Athletic Hall of Fame, as well as others are to be commended for another job well done

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