Nothing puts a bow on the complete package that is the end of the 2022-23 local athletic season quite like what will unfold June 11 at the Grand Plaza of the Civic Center
The 65th Annual Texas Panhandle Sports Hall of Fame ceremonies will induct five new members as well as honor coaches and athletes of the year in 11 sports as well as five other special award winners. The honoring of the best will be at 2 p.m. As it has always been, the ceremonies are free to the public.
The number of inductees will crawl over 200 with the latest class that includes Fred Cooper, Southwest Conference distance champion out of Stinnett; the father/daughter combination of Rick Cooper and Kori Cooper Clements, NFL veteran defensive lineman Ziggy Hood out of Palo Duro, and Chris Koetting, recently retired head football coach of the Canadian Wildcats, the Panhandle’s greatest football dynasty.
“All of the ceremonies are special, but this one really stands out,” said Jon Mark Beilue, chairman of the TPSHOF selection committee. “First, we’re reaching the 200 milestone. Think of the thousands of athletes and coaches in the Panhandle since the 1930s, and we’re just now reaching 200 over 65 years. We want the Hall of Fame to be special and elite.
“Secondly, I don’t think I’m affected by recency bias, but I, along with others, believe this may be the strongest class inducted as a group. All are special, but this one has real star power.”
Fred Cooper, Texas Panhandle Hall of Fame inductee No. 197
Even though he ran more than 50 years ago, Fred Cooper, the 197th inductee, can still lay claim as the greatest distance runner from the Panhandle. While running for Stinnett, he set a Class 2A state meet record in the 880 in 1:55.4 in 1966, a mark that stood for 18 years.
Cooper went to run for the University of Texas where he would win four Southwest Conference titles. He won the mile in 1968 in 4:10.6, the cross country title in the 1969 SWC meet, and then was a double champion in the mile (4:06.4) and three mile (14:13.8) in 1970. Cooper eventually ran as fast as 4:03.2 in the mile. His best times are the fastest of any area runner in history.
Rick Cooper, Texas Panhandle Hall of Fame inductee No. 198
The 198th inductee, Rick Cooper, a native of West Virginia, played basketball at Wayland Baptist and ended his career in 1981 as the school’s 14th all-time leading scorer. He went into coaching. After six years as an assistant at Wayland, he became head coach in 1987. In six years, his teams averaged 25 wins, and his 152 wins are the most among Pioneer coaches.
In 1993, he went up the road to West Texas A&M. Over the next 20 years, Cooper’s teams would total a record of 394-145, again setting a school record for most wins by a men’s basketball coach. His teams won four Lone Star Conference titles, went to the NCAA Division II tournament eight times, and one appearance in the Elite Eight national tournament. He was named LSC coach of the year six times.
Kori (Cooper) Clements, Texas Panhandle Hall of Fame inductee No. 199
Kori Cooper Clements’ sport was not the one her dad coached, but volleyball where the 199th inductee would become one of the top players the Panhandle ever produced. Following an all-state career at Amarillo High, cut short by a serious knee injury early in her senior year, Cooper signed with volleyball power Nebraska.
She started at middle blocker as a freshman on the 2006 national champions. She would be a fixture in the Nebraska program, a period in which NU went 120-13. Cooper-Clements overcame another serious knee injury at the end of her junior year to finish her senior year as a two-time All-Big 12 performer, academic All-American and honorable mention All-American. She went on to a short but successful coaching career that included one year at Amarillo High, her alma mater.
Evander “Ziggy” Hood, Texas Panhandle Hall of Fame inductee No. 200
Hood, the 200th inductee, was a standout outside linebacker at Palo Duro in the early 2000s when he was named the district defensive player of the year. He signed with the University of Missouri. He bulked up to 300 pounds and was moved to defensive tackle. He was a three-year starter with the Tiges and was named All-Big 12 in 2008.
In the 2009 NFL draft, Hood was taken in the first round – No. 32 overall – by the Pittsburgh Steelers. When the average NFL career is 3 1/2 seasons, Hood played 10. He played five years for Pittsburgh including Super Bowl 45 against Green Bay. He also played with Jacksonville, Chicago, Washington and Miami. In all, he played in 142 NFL games where he had 231 tackles and 14 sacks. Hood is in his third year as an assistant coach at Palo Duro, his alma mater.
Chris Koetting, Texas Panhandle Hall of Fame inductee No. 201
Koetting, the 201st inductee, presided over the most dominant era of high school football in the Panhandle. As head coach at Canadian from 2010 to 2022, his teams went 165-24 – an 87.3 winning percentage – and won three state titles in 2014, 2015 and 2020. His 2016 team that went 16-0 is considered by many outlets as the greatest 2A football team in state history. Koetting’s teams came tantalizingly close to winning three more state championships.
His three state titles ties with him with Blair Cherry of Amarillo High (1934-36) for the most won by an area head coach. His 49-10 playoff record is not only the best playoff winning percentage – 83 percent – by a Panhandle coach, but his 49 wins are also the most.
2022-2023 Coaches of the Year
Baseball: Cory Hamilton, Randall High School
Basketball: Leslie Broadhurst, Randall High School
Cross Country: Wes Kirton, Canyon High School
Football: Adam Cummings, West Plains High School
Golf: Ben Gilliland, Randall High School
Soccer: Amberlee Gerald, West Plains High School
Softball: Ty Hoobler, Amarillo High School
Tennis (co): Koby Otto, Amarillo High School; Darby Norman, Randall High School
Track: Ray Baca, Canyon High School
Volleyball: (co) Kendra Potts, West Texas A&M; Haleigh Burns, Randall High School
Wrestling: Joe Stafford, Tascosa High School
Athletes of the Year
Baseball: Payton Bush, Randall High School
Basketball: McKenzie Smith, Amarillo High School
Cross Country: Taytum Goodman, Springlake-Earth High School
Football: Armando Lujan, Sunray High School
Golf: Alyssa Campbell, West Texas A&M
Soccer: Justin Martinez, Pampa High School
Softball: Tatem Pendergraft, Amarillo High School
Tennis: Eleanor Archer, Amarillo High School
Track: Hannah Stuart, Canyon High School
Volleyball (co): Torrey Miller, West Texas A&M; Jordan Gove, Randall High School
Wrestling (co): Richard Davila, Caprock High School; Andres Suarez, Tascosa High School
Special Achievement Awards
Lynlee Spinhirne, Vega High School, swimming
Trent Loter, Pampa High School manager
Eric Schilling, Nazareth High School, basketball
Super Team Award: Canyon girls track team, Class 4A state champion
Big Play Award: Ella Hester, Randall High School
Dick Risenhoover Award: Lo Van Pham, Amarillo, NFL official
Dee Henry Inspiration Award: Kendra Murray, Tascosa High School, wheelchair athlete