Three of the most decorated female athletes in Big Country history highlight the Class of 2014 announced today for the Big Country Athletic Hall of Fame.
Basketball star Kendra Anderson Hassell from Colorado City, tennis champion Ann Schroeder from Abilene Cooper and basketball/track standout JimAnne Baker Hejny from Cisco will be honored at the 13th annual Big Country Athletic Hall of Fame induction banquet May 5 at 6:30 p.m. at the Abilene Civic Center.
Tickets will go on sale Feb. 1 online at www.bigcountryhalloffame.org. For ticket or sponsorship information, call (325) 668-3685 or e-mail email@example.com. The Big Country Athletic Hall of Fame board of directors will also present a number of scholarships to graduating student-athletes from the 19-country area that makes up the Big Country. The Hall of Fame museum is located in the Abilene ISD administration building at 241 Pine and is open free to the public.
The three female standouts will be honored along with pole vaulter Brad Pursley from Merkel, long-time Amarillo High football coach Larry Dippel who played on two state championship football teams at Stamford, two-time Super Bowl champion Terry Orr from Abilene Cooper and football/track star Jim Millerman from Abilene High. Longtime Big Country high school and college football coach Bill Anderson will be inducted posthumously.
The Legacy Award will be presented to the Young brothers from Brownwood. Bob, Doug and Perry Young were not only all-state football players for Gordon Wood at Brownwood, but all went on make their mark after high school. Bob was an All-Pro lineman for the St. Louis Cardinals, Doug was a world champion weightlifter, and Perry a noted softball pitcher and coach. Bob and Doug are deceased.
The Big Country Hall of Fame has also added a new category this year called the Legend Award to honor coaches or athletes who competed prior to 1950. Recognized at the banquet will be hurdler Fred Wolcott from Snyder and long-time football coach Eck Curtis. Both are deceased.
Here is a brief look this year’s inductees:
Bill Anderson, who was born in Erath County, had a coaching career that spanned more than 50 years, including stops at Stamford, Rising Star, South Taylor, Graham, Palestine, Riviera, Hereford, Abilene Christian, West Texas State, Cisco Junior College, Howard Payne and Tarleton State. The football stadium in Stamford was recently dedicated and renamed Bill Anderson Stadium. He is also a member of the Texas High School Coaches Hall of Honor.
Larry Dippel played on the ‘58 state championship team at Stamford, then played for Hall of Famer, legendary Sam Baugh, at Hardin-Simmons. He was the head coach at Hereford from 1971-74 before becoming the head football coach at Amarillo High. Dippel led the Sandies to 222 wins and 23 playoff appearances until his retirement in 2005. He won the 1993 Tom Landry Award and High School Extra “Coach Who Made a Difference” award. He was the inaugural winner of the national “Power of Influence” award in 2003 given by the American Football Coaches Association. He is a member of the Hardin-Simmons, Texas High School Coaches and Texas Panhandle halls of fame and compiled an overall coaching record of 253-134-6.
Kendra Anderson Hassell graduated from Colorado City in 1999 and then went to Hardin-Simmons where she became the most decorated basketball player in school history. She led the Cowgirls to four straight American Southwest Conference championships and four NCAA Division III tournament appearances. In 2003, Anderson was named the NCAA Division III women’s basketball player of the year and the ASC Female Athlete of the Year. She was a two-time Kodak All-American and three-time conference player of the year. She was also selected to the Division III all-decade team in 2007. Anderson has coached at Forney, Fort Worth Paschal, Oklahoma State, Texas Woman’s University, Charleston Southern, Carroll University and is now an assistant basketball coach at Abilene Christian University.
JimAnne Baker Hejny of Cisco won 13 individual gold medals and 2 gold team medals at the State Track Meet in her career in the 100, 200, 400, Long and Triple Jump and relay teams. The Lady Loboes, led by Baker, won the Class 2A state track team championship in 2001and 2002. In addition to her success on the track, Baker was named All-State and Regional in basketball all four years in high school by both the Texas Girls Coaches Association and the Texas Basketball Coaches Association. She was the TABC Class 2A player of the year in 2002 and 2003. Baker attended Texas Christian University where she played basketball and competed in track and field for the Horned Frogs. In basketball, Baker contributed to 3 Division I NCAA tournament appearances and one Conference USA Championship in 2004. In track she competed in the Outdoor National Track and Field meet in long jump as a Freshman.
Jim Millerman was a member of Abilene High teams that won two state championships in the same calendar year. In the spring of 1954, he ran on the Eagles’ sprint relay team that won a gold medal at the state track meet and recorded the fastest time in the nation. Abilene High won the team state championship as well. Then that fall, Millerman was an all-state running back as Abilene High won the first of three consecutive state championships. He later ran track and played football at Baylor.
Terry Orr was a star running back on a district championship team at Cooper and then played for the Texas Longhorns, where he rushed for 1,279 yards and 11 touchdowns during his career. He was fourth in the Southwest Conference in rushing touchdowns in 1984. Orr was selected in the 10th round of the NFL draft in 1985 and played tight end for the Washington Redskins and San Diego Charger from 1986-93. He was a member of the Redskins’ Super Bowl-winning teams in both 1987 and 1991.
Brad Pursley of Merkel and Abilene Christian University was a state champion and NAIA and NCAA national champion in the pole vault. He competed internationally and qualified for the U.S. Olympic trials three times. Pursley was ranked as high as No. 3 in the world and was ranked among the top five U.S. pole vaulters from 1981 to 1987. He is a member of the NAIA and ACU Halls of Fame.
Ann Schroeder is perhaps the most honored tennis player in Abilene history. As a junior player she was ranked No. 2 in singles in Texas and No.1 in doubles. At Cooper, she won district and regional championships in doubles and was runner-up in the state tournament in both 1972 and 1973. She also led Cooper to a runner-up finish in the first team tennis state tournament. She played collegiate tennis at Trinity University, which won three NCAA Division I national championships, and Schroeder was named an all-American as a senior. She played on the women’s professional tennis tour from 1978 to 1981 and achieved a world singles ranking of 148.
Legacy Award winners Bob, Doug and Perry Young made their marks in three different sports, although all three were all-state football players at Brownwood. Bob played 16 seasons in the NFL, mostly with the St. Louis Cardinals. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 1978 and 1979 and was a first-team All-Pro selection in 1979. He also finished second in the inaugural World’s Strongest Man contest in 1977. His younger brother Doug Young was a three-time world powerlifting champion. Perry Young, the youngest of the three brothers, was a wide receiver and safety for the 1967 and 1969 state championship football teams at Brownwood. He became known as one of the nation’s top fastpitch softball pitchers and has spent his career coaching high school girls softball.
Eck Curtis, who played quarterback at Abilene Christian, was an outstanding coach at Anson, Ranger and Breckenridge before winning a state football championship at Highland Park in 1945. He later became the backfield coach at the University of Texas where he introduced the T-formation and one year had his entire backfield picked to the all-SWC team. He is a member of the Texas Sports Hall of Fame and the Texas High School Football Hall of Fame.
Fred Wolcott from Snyder was one of the greatest collegiate hurdlers in history at Rice. He won an NCAA title and broke Jesse Owens’ world record in the 220-yard low hurdles. Due to the cancellation of the Olympics during World War II, however, he was denied recognition on the world stage. He has been inducted in the Texas Sports Hall of Fame.