Legendary BTW coaches remembered at TPS Athletics Hall of Fame ceremony
BY BARRY LEWIS World Sports Writer
Friday, January 25, 2013
1/25/13 at 7:01 AM
Although Booker T. Washington coaching legends S.E. Williams and Ed Lacy were inducted posthumously into the Tulsa Public Schools Athletics Hall of Fame on Thursday night, their football legacy was visible in Reuben Gant, who also was a part of the Hall's inaugural class of 15.
Gant played for Lacy on the Hornets' three consecutive large-school state title teams from 1967-69. And Lacy, a 1939 Booker T. Washington graduate, regarded Williams as a mentor.
Gant, who was a 1969 Parade Magazine All-American, recalled on Thursday how he and another Hornets football standout, John Winesberry, who was the World's 1969 state player of the year, were students at a private high school before transferring to Booker T. Washington.
"My parents wanted me to attend Holland Hall, and I attended Holland Hall for two months with John Winesberry,' Gant said. "John and I figured out that was not the place for us to be. We finagled our way to Booker T. by schmoozing our parents and the advisers there. I met Coach Lacy and he was a real mentor to me, more like a surrogate father to me. He was a real influence on my life. He talked about being men, accepting responsibility, about being accountable with my actions, keeping on the straight and narrow. I owe him a lot.
"I feel very grateful and honored to have known and him and have played for him. I wish he could be here today."
Also inducted during the Hall of Fame Banquet at the Doubletree Hotel at Warren Place were former NFL players Randy Hughes (Memorial), Spencer Tillman (Edison) and Tony Casillas (East Central); former McLain basketball coach Luther Pegues, former Oklahoma State quarterback Brent Blackman (Hale), Webster and Oklahoma wrestling All-American Rod Kilgore, and Central Oklahoma's winningest football coach, Gary Howard (Central).
Gant also referred to Pegues as a mentor. Gant said he became interested in athletics when he was in Pegues' gym class at Anderson Junior High.
Besides Williams and Lacy, other posthumous inductions were Oklahoma and NBA basketball standout Wayman Tisdale (Booker T. Washington), New York Giants and Green Bay Packers All-Pro Don Chandler (Rogers), former Central basketball coach Grady Skillern and Webster basketball coach Bill Allen, and longtime TPS superintendent Charles Mason. Don Chandler was represented by his son, Bret. Accepting for Mason was his granddaughter, Sue Clay, a TPS teacher.
Although TPS athletic director Gil Cloud planned to limit future induction classes to five annually, next year's class could see all nine current TPS high schools represented again because of an overwhelming number of outstanding candidates.
"I am amazed at the talent that has come out of this city, said Gant, who has been the Greenwood Chamber of Commerce president since 1998. "There are guys before me that are deserving of this honor."
Among those Gant mentioned were Julius Pegues, Eddie McQuarters and Granville Liggins.
Lacy, who also was a TPS athletic director, was represented by his widow, Freddie.
"If Ed was here, he would enjoy this so much," she said before adding that "he looked for things like this (the Hall of Fame," as an inspiration for students.
S.E. Williams' nephew, Adolph Williams, attended the ceremony. Another mentoring situation between inductees involved Skillern and Allen. Skillern, who also was a TPS athletic director, coached Allen at Central.
Skillern's daughter, Sandra Donahue, said her father would be "very, very humbled and very, very honored. And somewhere in there he would say, `Win without boasting and lose without making excuses.' "
Edie Allen, who is a Union Hall of Fame coach, accepted the honor for her father, Bill Allen, who she said was proud to be the first sophomore to start in Central's basketball program. She said Bill Allen looked at Skillern as a "father figure."
Wayman Tisdale was represented by his widow, Regina, who was notified of the Hall of Fame selection by a letter from his high school coach, Mike Mims.
"He would be so excited," Regina Tisdale said of her late husband. "He was a serious Tulsa guy and loved Booker T."
Casillas, who attended OU at the same time as Tisdale said, "Wayman Tisdale is a big part of my life. ... I love the guy."
Blackman dedicated his induction to his son, Brice, who died in an auto accident last September. Brent Blackman recalled growing up in Jackson, Mo., and thanked Larry and Rita Miller, who were TPS coaches, for encouraging his family to move to Tulsa.
Hughes, the World's state player of the year as a defensive back in 1970, remembered playing against Gant and Blackman, who were a year older.
"Those guys were amazing players," Hughes said. "It was a thrill to play against them."
Original Print Headline: Legendary Hornet coaches recalled
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Reuben Gant answers questions at Thursday's Tulsa Public Schools Athletics Hall of Fame induction ceremony. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World
Spencer Tillman, a former standout football player at Edison High School, was one of 15 people inducted into Tulsa Public Schools Athletics Hall of Fame on Thursday. CORY YOUNG/ Tulsa World