Honored by them all
The venue was new, but the theme was an old one—every
Fourteen new members were in the third class to be enshrined in the Rockdale Sports Hall of Honor Friday in the commons area of the new high school.
There are now 42 former athletes in the Hall of Honor and for the first time have taken their permanent home in the concourse area of the new Rockdale gymnasium.
As is the tradition, the honorees were introduced before the Rockdale-Caldwell football game and sat together in a special section in the end zone.
The first person to be enshrined Friday night was former Rockdale Reporter publisher and Tiger athlete Bill Cooke, who was completely oblivious to the fact that he was part of the program (see column left).
It was kept a secret because Cooke is on the selection committee and would have objected to his being a nominee.
"My job was to cover the news, not make it," Cooke said. "That's what I've always preached. Apparently it didn't take. They must have lowered the criteria to let me in."
"I never believed I would be remembered for my athletics," said Lovelady, who was also a talented singer in her day.
All-state lineman Ernie Wayne Laurence followed his father, legendary coach Ernie Laurence, and brother Donnie Laurence into the hall Friday evening.
"I'm glad I wasn't just remembered for breaking (teammate and fellow honoree) Ronny Menn's leg," he joked.
Dr. Copie Perry noted the skill level of his teammates.
"I played with some really, really fine athletes," said Perry, a state champion hurdler. "You just don't know how proud I am to say Rockdale is my hometown."
Master of ceremonies Mike Brown introduced all-state linebacker Richard Kubiak, and congratulated him on becoming a dentist after knocking out so many people's teeth, now he was helping to fix them.
"When I think of all the tremendous athletes that have come through here... it makes this even more special," Kubiak said. "Those before us paved the way. We knew what we had to do to live up to what they had done before us.
"I'd like to accept this award for all those who aren't here tonight," said Kubiak, who joins his brother L.B. in the Hall of Honor.
The class of 1968 led the inductees with four, with Vernon Guest, Mike Speer, H. Earl Marion and Glen Chmelar.
Speedster Vernon Guest didn't take the news of his induction very seriously.
"I thought it was a joke," he said. "To go in with three of the greatest athletes in RHS history— Mike, Chmelar, H. Earl—I'll cherish this for the rest of my life."
"Growing up here, you look up to these guys," said a choked up Speer, who played football at the University of Texas. "You never think of yourself as being on that level.
"And all those coaches we had back then, they were all of one cloth," he said. "Not only did they want us to be a better athlete, but a better person."
"It's not about Mike Speer— it's about Rockdale and the people here. I'm the turtle on the fence post, he had a lot of help getting there."
Marion heaped praise upon his teammates.
"I'd like to thank my offensive line that year," he said. "They did some things that I don't know how they did it."
Marion brought probably the most unusual guest with him, Archie Bennett of Seguin who helped hand the 1967 team their only loss of the season. They were teammates at Blinn.
Two-way all-state lineman Glen Chmelar, who later starred at Baylor, fought back the tears.
"Mike Speer and I are known as the crybabies," he said. "But tears are a reflection of the heart.
"Our coaches made an impact on my life because I could have gone either way, positive or negative. They helped me get a college scholarship. It all started right here."
Chmelar then presented master of ceremonies Brown with a 12-roll package of toilet paper, admitting that he stole some toilet paper from the school when he was in school to toilet paper a coach's house.
"This is accrued interest for the role I stole."
Deceased inductee Ronnie Heflin was represented by his widow Karen.
Samaji Akili (Sammy Williams), who is a coach in Canada, was represented by his uncle, Fred Hoyle, Jr.