66th Panhandle Sports Hall of Fame to Induct six new members

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Leslie Broadhurst, left, Tom Doughtie, Don Rives, Sheryl Estes, Dr. Dianne Busch accepting for Laura Switzer, and Zach Thomas (not shown) are the 2024 inductees into the Texas Panhandle Sports Hall of Fame. [Ashley Hildebrandt/ Kids Inc.]

By Jon Mark Beilue

Six former athletes and coaches – the largest inductee class in history – are set for installation on Sunday in the 66th Annual Texas Panhandle Sports Hall of Fame ceremonies.

A three-time All-America basketball player at Wayland Baptist, a two-time all-conference and six-year veteran of the NFL, the Panhandle’s top amateur golfer ever, former Wayland Baptist Flying Queens coach and women’s professional coach, likely the greatest football player ever from the area, as well as a recently retired high school boys basketball coach with more than 700 wins comprise this historic class.

Laura Switzer, Don Rives, Tom Doughtie, Sheryl Estes, Zach Thomas and Leslie Broadhurst propel the elite number of inductions past 200 in the 2024 HOF class.

They will be honored, along with coaches and athletes of the year from 2023-2024 in 11 sports, and five special award winners, at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Amarillo Civic Center’s Grand Plaza.

There is no admission charge and a free catered reception is scheduled before and following the ceremonies.

Laura Switzer will be the 202nd member of the Texas Panhandle Sports Hall of Fame. [Provided photo]

LAURA SWITZER

As the 202nd member, Switzer went from small-town McLean to an All-America basketball career for the Flying Queens of Wayland Baptist in the early 1960s. As a veterans selection for those whose accomplishments were more than 50 years ago, the 6-foot-1 Switzer used her trademark hook shot and seldom-missed free-throw shooting to become a three-time All-American at Wayland, the fifth Flying Queen to earn that honor three times.

She helped lead the Queens to a 90-12 record, one national AAU championship and two national runners-up. In 1961, not only did Wayland win the AAU title, but won the National Girls Basketball League where Switzer was named to the all-star team. In three years at Wayland, Switzer scored 798 points and won three consecutive national free-throw shooting titles. She was the first Queen to earn MVP honors at the AAU national tournament.

In 1961, she was among the top women’s players in the country to form an all-star team that toured Russia. Switzer was on the 1963 Pan American team that won the gold medal over Brazil, 59-43.

In 1965, Switzer became the women’s basketball coach at Southwestern Oklahoma State, the beginning of 36 years with the university. She was head coach until 1980. Dr. Switzer would continue as a professor of physical education and women’s athletics coordinator until her retirement in 2001.

Switzer was inducted in both the Wayland Baptist Athletics Hall of Honor and the Southwestern Oklahoma State Hall of Fame. She died on April 19, 2017, two days shy of her 76th birthday.

Don Rives is the 203rd member of the Texas Panhandle Sports Hall of Fame. [Provided photo]

DON RIVES

As the 203rd member, Rives may have been small in stature and was from the small town of Wheeler, but his football accomplishments were anything but small. In the 1960s, he and twin brother Ron were standouts for the Mustangs at a number of positions, and were good enough to be offered by numerous major colleges before they selected Texas Tech.

With freshmen ineligible for varsity in 1969, Rives stepped onto the scene in 1970 in Jim Carlen’s first year as Tech head coach and was a three-year starter. He was named to the Southwest Conference all-sophomore team which set the stage for the next two years.

He was All-SWC in 1971. Then as a senior in 1972, on an 8-3 Sun Bowl team, Rives was not only All-SWC, but he was Tech’s 10th All-American on the country’s second team. That season he was named the Raiders’ MVP and would eventually be named by Texas Football Magazine to the SWC’s All-Decade Team of the 1970s.

Rives was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the 15th round. Most players are cut when drafted that late, but Rives stuck at linebacker.  He played six seasons and 74 games and he replaced legendary Dick Butkus at middle linebacker when Butkus retired in 1974.

After his playing career, Rives returned to the Texas Panhandle, most of that time spent as a coach and teacher. In 2006, he was inducted into the Texas Tech Athletic Hall of Fame. He and wife Sammye have three grown children and eight grandchildren. He lives in Granbury.

Tom Doughtie is the 204th member of the Texas Panhandle Sports Hall of Fame. [Provided photo]

TOM DOUGHTIE

As the 204th member, once Doughtie turned his athletic focus solely to golf in his early teens, it didn’t take long to see where his talents were. It made sense since his mother, Peggy Lee, was a local amateur champion. At age 16, in his hometown of Bay City, Doughtie broke the local country club record by shooting a 64.

He went on to play golf at SMU where he graduated in 1975.  In 1980, he and wife Cathy moved to her hometown of Amarillo. It wasn’t long that Doughtie began nearly 30 years of dominant competitive golf that established him as perhaps the greatest amateur golfer ever from the Texas Panhandle.

It began by winning a couple of Amarillo Country Club championships, and moved into high gear in 1985 when he won the Ross Rogers Partnership, the biggest tournament in the Texas Panhandle. He won the tournament five times with three different partners.

Doughtie won more than 40 local tournaments that included the Tournament of Champions six times, and was a six-time senior city champion. On a state level, he was the Men’s West Texas champion three times including the 2006 title at age 53 when he beat college golfers more than half his age. He won the Men’s West Texas Senior Open three times.

Nationally, Doughtie was a U.S. Senior Open qualifier three times, finishing 59th in 2008, and qualified for the U.S. senior amateur five times. He was captain of Team Texas that twice won the national title in the US Senior Team Challenge. Doughtie and son Will teamed together to win nine major tournaments, including the Texas Golf Association Father-Son championship a record six times.

Doughtie and Cathy have two adult children and four grandchildren.

Sheryl Estes is the 205th member of the Texas Panhandle Sports Hall of Fame. [Provided photo]

SHERYL ESTES

Four of the 2024 inductees grew up in small Texas Panhandle towns, none smaller than Mobeetie where Estes, the 205th member, played every sport and knew by the seventh grade she wanted to coach. After running track for a year at Texas Tech, she transferred to play basketball at West Texas State under Bob Schneider in the early 1980s.

Shortly after graduation, she coached for two years under Joe Lombard at Canyon, and took away much from those coaching legends. After one year as a high school coach, Estes interviewed for the Wayland Baptist University women’s job, and at the age of 28, she was hired. From 1989-96, Estes coached Wayland to the NAIA national tournament six times and the national title game in 1992. In six years, WBU was 183-62.

For two years, she was NAIA president and on the USA Basketball Selection Committee. At the 1996 Final Four, the American Basketball League announced plans for a new professional women’s league. Estes used her contacts to become head coach of the Colorado Xplosion, leading the team to the playoffs in the second and final year of the league.

That led to another start-up coaching job at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, which was starting a new Division I program in 1998. Everything was new, but she compiled a 46-35 record, noteworthy for a beginning program.

Estes decided to step away from coaching and into business. For the last 11 years, she has been co-founder/owner of boxLIFE, which converts shipping containers into a unique tailgate experience for a variety of events. The business is based out of Austin.

Zach Thomas is the 206th member of the Texas Panhandle Sports Hall of Fame. [Provided photo]

ZACH THOMAS

A good argument can be made that Thomas, the 206th member, is the greatest football player ever from the Texas Panhandle. His honors and accomplishments at every level put him on that plateau.

He started as a freshman linebacker for White Deer’s undefeated 1988 1A state champions, and later transferred to Pampa where he was a two-time all-state linebacker for the Harvesters. Lightly recruited because of his size, Thomas signed with Texas Tech in 1992.

He would become the greatest defensive player in Tech history. Relentless, instinctive and quick, he was a three-year starter, and his last two years in 1994 and 1995, he was All-Southwest Conference both years. As a junior, he was a second-team All-American. As a senior, he was a unanimous first-team All-American. Those three seasons eventually would have him inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. His name is bronzed on the edifice of Jones Stadium.

Again overlooked in the NFL draft, Thomas was taken in the fifth round by the Miami Dolphins. For the next 12 seasons, he was as good as any linebacker in the NFL. He was named to seven Pro Bowls, was All-Pro five times, named to the NFL’s All-Decade team for the 2000s.  In 11 seasons he had more than 100 tackles, topping 150 six times and leading the NFL twice in tackles.

In the summer of 2023, in Canton, Ohio, Thomas took his rightful place among the best to ever play the sport with his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He has long made his home in South Florida with wife Maritza, their son and two daughters.

Leslie Broadhurst is the 207th member of the Texas Panhandle Sports Hall of Fame. [Provided photo]

LESLIE BROADHURST

As the 207th member, Broadhurst realized a coaching dream before he was 30 years old. He hungered to be the boys basketball coach at the new Randall High, which would open in 1988. He aggressively sought the position, and his tenacity paid off for both a young coach and new school.

Broadhurst has been the only head boys basketball coach in the history of Randall High School. His 36 years are believed to be a Texas Panhandle record for longest single tenure for a high school basketball coach.  Coaches don’t stay in one place that long unless they win – and Broadhurst’s teams won.

His 703 career victories are the third-most ever by an area basketball coach. Nineteen times his teams won 20 or more games. The Raiders also won nine district championships, 10 times advanced to the regional tournament, seven times to the regional tournament finals, and twice to the state tournament – including this past season.

Five times Randall advanced to the regional tournament finals, the last step before state, and five times they lost, including four in a row from 1998-2001. But his last two teams finally broke that barrier, reaching the Class 4A Final Four in 2023 and 2024.

This past season, Broadhurst captured the admiration of many as he battled cancer and stayed as close to the program as he could. In April, the Canyon ISD  school board honored Broadhurst by naming the Randall High School gymnasium after its only head boys coach.

Broadhurst, who announced his retirement in May, and wife Heather have two adult children, two adult stepchildren and four grandchildren.

John Doan was named the Texas Panhandle Sports Hall of Fame Baseball Coach of the Year. [Roy Wheeler/ Press Pass Sports]

Coaches of the Year

Baseball: John Doan, Canyon High School

Basketball: Jason Pillion, Amarillo High School

Cross Country (co): Wes Kirton, Canyon High School

Cross Country (co): Rebekah James, Randall High School

Football: Wes Boatmun, Sunray High School

Golf: Skyler Walden, Amarillo High School

Soccer: Hutton Sharp, Tascosa High School

Softball: Carlyn Tolleson, Dumas High School

Tennis: James Wells, San Jacinto Christian Academy

Track: Coby Maurer, Panhandle High School

Volleyball: Jason Culpepper, Bushland High School

Wrestling: David Quirino, Randall High School

Canadian quarterback Camren Cavalier was named the Texas Panhandle Sports Hall of Fame Co-Football Player of the Year. [James Abel/ Press Pass Sports]

Athletes of the Year

Baseball: Christian McGuire, Canyon High School

Basketball: KJ Thomas, Randall High School

Cross Country: William Amponsah, West Texas A&M

Football (co): Camren Cavalier, Canadian High School

Football (co): Armando Lujan, Sunray High School

Golf: Carson Grawunder, Vega/Wayland Baptist

Soccer: Ricardo Mendez, Caprock High School

Softball: Danae Lopez, Amarillo High School

Tennis: Gabby Dishong/Kynlee Craddock, Randall High School

Track: Hannah Stuart, Canyon High School

Volleyball: Torrey Miller, West Texas A&M

Wrestling: Bronson Baxter, Dumas High School

Special Achievement Awards

Kendra Potts, West Texas A&M volleyball

Trevor Johnson, Randall High School basketball

George Grover, longtime Borger sports radio broadcaster

West Texas A&M track teams

Wyatt Provence, West Texas A&M golf

Super Team Award

Bushland High School volleyball, 3A state champions

Big Game Award

West Texas A&M volleyball’s fourth-set win, 36-34, over No. 1 and unbeaten Tampa University in national semifinals

Dick Risenhoover Award

Shahada Wells, Tascosa/McNeese State basketball

Dee Henry Inspiration Award

Thalie Brandt, Randall High School

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