If you combined the number of years Robert Hale and J.D. Mayo have coached Texas high school basketball, you’d have over 90 years and 1,600 career wins.
Fitting enough that two of the all-time greats will be inducted together during the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame in San Antonio on Saturday.
“Coach Hale is the reason why I’m in education,” said Troy Bell, who is an assistant director of athletics at Fort Worth ISD. “I owe him a great deal of gratitude and on behalf of my teammates, Coach Hale made us successful not only on the court, but in life. He taught us no matter what the outcome was, we came away as better men for it.”
Bell played for Hale when he was a head coach at Everman in the 80s and then spent five years as his assistant coach at Pampa, where the two helped guide the team to a state title in 1996, which marked a fifth overall for the program, but first in 47 years.
“I got into coaching because I wanted to be an influence on kids,” said Hale, who began his coaching tree in 1972 at Seymour. “It wasn’t always about landing the high-profile job, but to make an impact on my players. I miss being around and being involved. I loved coaching and all aspects of it. I got the kids to believe what we were doing and that was always important to me.
“It was a great feeling to get the call last summer that I was going to be inducted. I had done it before with the Texas High School Coaches Association in 2015. I’m a lucky man and it’s very humbling.”
Hale spent his most time at Pampa, which is an hour east of Amarillo. He coached the Harvesters for 13 years, but he was also well established in Dallas-Fort Worth with other coaching stints at Lewisville, Burleson, Everman, Weatherford, Azle, Crowley, Azle Christian and Weatherford Express Home School.
“I met coach Hale when I was 14. I loved basketball and we had a new coach in town. I was a freshman and made it my duty to open the door for him anytime I’d see him,” Bell said. “Two years later and I was on varsity and he helped me become a better player and better person. I only had my mom so coach Hale kind of fit that gap, that male figure that I needed. I graduated college and when I was 25 he asked me to come coach with him at Pampa. I jumped on the opportunity and we never looked back.
“He taught me to be a good coach. I’d always listen and watch him coach, and he was always very helpful on and off the court. Our third year at Pampa, we finally reached state. We had a great team, 33-3 and won 21 straight games. We won the state title in front of 15,000 in Austin over Dallas Madison.”
Hale coached Everman to a district title in 1986; helped Weatherford tie a school record in wins while his oldest son Colby led the Metroplex in assists and steals per game; beat Robert Hughes and Dunbar, and reached the regional tournament at Azle while youngest Clarke scored nearly 1,000 points; and spent six seasons at Crowley where the Eagles were four-time district champs.