MISD Athletic Hall of Honor has been a long time coming

Posted Monday, Jul. 29, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Many school districts, colleges and universities have their halls of fame to honor and recognize important people and teams in their athletic histories. Now, Mansfield ISD has one of its own. The inaugural class of the MISD Athletic Hall of Honor will be inducted Aug. 10 at the MISD Performing Arts Center.

Establishing the Hall of Honor has been on MISD Athletic Director Debbie Weems’ to-do list for some time, and she’s thrilled that it’s finally becoming reality.

“We don’t have one and we do need one,” Weems said. “It’s been a project that I have been thinking about for a long time. It seemed like we were opening up a school every two years and starting programs and hiring coaches, and so it always got put to the back burner a little bit. I finally decided last summer that it was something I needed to commit to and just try to get it going.”

Indeed, Weems has been kindling the idea of a hall of honor since she was coaching more than a decade ago.

“When I was still coaching in the early ‘90s, I had parents telling me we needed to do something like this,” she said. “So, that’s always been on my mind. I hate to say it’s been that long that I’ve been thinking about it and just now getting it done. I think it’s long overdue and I’m excited about the opportunity to get it going and making it happen.”

It’s not quite as simple as simply saying you’d like to honor a few people instrumental to the community’s athletic history and success, though. And Weems admits the process turned out to be a bit longer than even she anticipated.

“It’s certainly a bigger project than I first thought,” she said. “Just the amount of time you need to pull it all together and get the nominations you want. We spent a good portion of last school year – from September until January or February – just putting everything together. So, we didn’t have a whole lot of time once we established our criteria and put all those things together to determine what the system would be and who would serve as voters and how we would get the nominations to us.”

Weems enlisted the help of Raymond Meeks and T.L. Davis, two prominent figures in Mansfield athletics, and together they formed a committee to get the ball rolling. Researching how other schools have approached their halls and getting some first-hand advice from Birdville ISD, the committee hashed out all the pertinent details and ultimately delivered an inaugural class of seven individuals and one team.

The late Vernon Newsom will receive the first and only Cornerstone Inductee Award. Michele Purgason will go in as a Distinguished Volunteer. Former Mansfield High and Summit basketball coach Samantha Morrow will be inducted after winning four state titles in her time in the MISD. Student-athletes being inducted in 2013 include James L. Coble (football); Royce Womble (football); Erin Grant (girls basketball) and Brie Madden Rodman (girls basketball, track and volleyball). This year’s team inductee will be the 1998-1999 Mansfield High girls basketball state championship team.

“This is a great start and we had some great nominations for our first class, and I think our first class is pretty awesome,” Weems said. “And I just think it will explode from here because now the word will be out there and people can start their nominations for the 2014 class a lot earlier.”

For now, the MISD Athletic Hall of Honor will be housed in the Community Room at Newsome Stadium. But tentative plans are to find the hall a more permanent home in the future. Weems hinted that perhaps when R.L. Anderson is renovated, a special place dedicated for the Hall of Honor might be included, allowing for expansion of the displayed memorabilia and awards. Regardless of its location, Weems feels like it’s an important element of the school district’s athletic department.

“I get pretty emotional thinking about it, because there have been so many special people that have gone through our school district and our program,” she added. “I think it’s extremely important from a historical point for our district that we recognize and acknowledge and celebrate some of the great things these people have done while at MISD schools.”

The Athletic Hall of Honor Banquet will be open to the public. Tickets can be purchased through Aug. 5 at Newsom Stadium (3700 East Broad St.) or by calling the MISD Athletic Office at 817-276-5200. The price is $40, and that includes a formal dinner that begins at 6:30 p.m.

Weems thinks this is an ideal opportunity for the community to be a part of this special event and this new chapter of MISD athletics history.

“Certainly I hope those people that have enjoyed watching these people perform over the years will be as excited about it as I am,” she said. “We have the opportunity to etch in history what these people did and that we never forget it.

“I think the people who are going to enjoy this dinner are the people who have always enjoyed sports in our school district,” Weems added. “It’s an historical event. If you are a fan of sports and a fan of MISD, I can’t imagine you not being there.”

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