‘Team’ is the theme on Hall of Honor night

Football, track champs honored for state supremacy


P.J. Williams fights back tears as he accepts the Hall of Honor plaque for his father, the late Don Wesley. Wesley was inducted into the hall Friday night with 10 other players and coaches. 
Reporter/Bill Martin P.J. Williams fights back tears as he accepts the Hall of Honor plaque for his father, the late Don Wesley. Wesley was inducted into the hall Friday night with 10 other players and coaches. Reporter/Bill Martin The theme of the evening was team. Team as family.

The latest class to be inducted into the Rockdale Sports Hall of Honor was a special group, simply because most represented the two most glorified teams in RHS sport history—the 1976 state football champions and the 1977 state track champions.

Eleven new members along with two state championship teams were inducted into the Rockdale Sports Hall of Honor Friday evening.

There are now 66 former athletes or contributors in the Hall.

The 5th class was also introduced to the crowd before the Rockdale-Giddings football game.

In their acceptance speeches, the six athletes who contributed to the two titles hammered home the point that there was no individual glory out on the field—but success as a culmination of teamwork. “What we did, we were a team,” said Jackie Thompson (RHS ‘77), a member of the football team. “We were a family. We had each other’s backs. We also had coaches who knew how to hold us accountable.”

“I think about the offensive line,” said Robert Luetge (RHS ‘77), who was part of both the football and track teams. “After tonight, there are four running backs in the Hall of Honor and we certainly didn’t get here by ourselves.”

Luetge also thanked his parents, Clyde and Shirley. His father Clyde is also in the Hall of Honor.

“For me, sports started in the home,” he said. “My parents were always there and they are still here 35 years later.”

 

For All-State linebacker Randy Morgan (RHS ‘77), it was a matter of historical reference.

“We talked about winning state in the fourth grade playing kickball. We knew we would do it. Don Wesley and I played sports together since we were nine years old.”

Not only were the championship teams recognized, the three coaches who pulled the strings were honored in Fred Johnson, Lew Simmonds and Dick Wiegand.

All three coaches were emotional when they remembered those who played for them.

“It’s not always about talent, we coach because of the kids and nowhere was that more true than here in Rockdale,” Simmonds said. “To be successful, you have to have great players, great coaching and support from the parents and administration and we had that here.”

“I have coached a lot of places and they don’t have anything close to what you have here,” said Wiegand, who led the Tigers to the state title as head track coach. “I have never experienced anything like this before.”

“I thought they were a couple of good old boys that I picked up off the street,” joked Johnson of his eternal connection with his two former assistants. “Something between us will always be special.”

Johnson received a standing ovation as he made his way to the podium.

“This is a great group of players, they are all deserving, and it’s what high school football is all about—lifelong friends.”

All three coaches were also adamant in recognizing former Tiger assistant coaches Warren Cico and the late Leo Stroman.

The most poignant moments of the evening were the appearances and acceptance speeches of Mike Korth and P.J. Williams.

Korth (RHS ‘81) entered the Hall as a contributor and was a Tiger manager in high school and has worked in several capacities for the University of Texas for over 25 years.

Korth, who had 12 family members with him including former Tiger football players and brothers Glen and Wilford, recently suffered a series of strokes and has battled cancer nearly his entire life and he slowly made his way to the podium with the help of a cane—and a standing ovation from the crowd.

“I’d like to thank the doctors for putting me back together so I could be here tonight,” he said. “You just don’t know how much it means to me.”

“I didn’t get to see him play, but with all the ribbons and medals I have of his, I knew he was good,” Williams said as he fought back tears as he accepted the plaque for his late father, Don Wesley, who was a football and track star.

Williams, a four-sport star at RHS and a coach at Holland who may find himself in the Hall one day, possessed his father’s speed and athletic ability.

Wesley passed away in 2001 at age 42 from cancer.

Inductees Theresa White (RHS ‘78) and James Russell (RHS ‘77) were quick to point out that there were many who contributed to their success.

“This is for the community because it takes a village,” White said. “Everyone helped mold us to be good people.”

“This is for my mom and all the parents and all the coaches who helped make me the person I am today,” Russell said.


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