ABOVE: The 1985 state champion football team from Yates is considered one of the greatest in Texas history.
When you walk into the entrance of the Delmar-Tusa Athletic Complex going forward, you are bound to notice a new addition to the facility—a wall emblazoned with the list of some of the absolute best Houston Independent School District (HISD) athletes and students who have made their indelible mark and are now legends in the world of sports.
This project was spearheaded by HISD Athletic Director Andre Walker and the Hall of Honor Executive Committee. The Class of 2021 consists of 16 individuals and one team.
The list is populated with many greats such as Vince Young, Monica Lamb, Darrell Green, Ralph Cooper, Jackie Carr, David Lattin, and of course, the 1985 Jack Yates High School state champion football team. They are just a few of the inaugural class of the HISD Athletic Hall of Honor. The inductees were honored at an event on August 14th at the Delmar-Tusa Athletic Complex. The event was attended by all but one of the living honorees, along with HISD Superintendent Millard House II and U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee.
Speaking to the enthusiastic crowd, Superintendent House reminded all attendees about the rich history of athleticism within the district.
“For decades, HISD has had a legacy of top-tier athletic talent, producing some of the biggest names in all kinds of sports—football, of course, as well as basketball, volleyball, track and field, baseball, tennis, and many more,” House said. “In fact, just last week, one of our own—Raevyn Rogers—scored a bronze medal in Tokyo at the Olympics, in the women’s 800-meter race. We may be honoring the past here today, but these athletes’ legacies continue on today and through tomorrow.”
The inaugural class of the HISD Athletic Hall of Honors, with their impressive resumes, include:
- 1985 Jack Yates Lions Football team (Jack Yates High School): The 1985 Jack Yates Lions state championship football team is considered one of the greatest teams in the history of Texas high school football. Coach Luther Booker’s varsity squad became the first Class 5A team to go undefeated (16-0) in a season. The Yates team set a single season record with 659 points (41.1 points per contest) while their defense was suffocating, allowing just 77 points (4.8 points per game) and posting eight shutouts that season. The Lions, who lost in the 1981 state title game and the 1983 state semifinals, blasted through their 1985 football schedule, while making history in the state championship. Coach Booker’s team pummeled then-state powerhouse Odessa Permian, 37-0, ending the Panthers’ 33-game win streak in the process. It was also the largest point-differential margin in a state title game for a Class 5A team to that point. Yates had 36 seniors, more than half of whom played four years of college football and two-thirds of whom
- went on to earn college degrees. At least five of them signed with NFL teams. The 1985 team was voted “Team of the Decade” by the Houston Chronicle and Dave Campbell’s Texas Football.
- Jackie Carr (Wheatley High School): The Wizard of Wheatley High led the school’s basketball team to four state championships, eight city crowns and 11 district titles in 17 seasons. Carr retired in 1985 with a career record of 532-112 (.826 winning percentage). He returned to coaching in 1993 and remained at the helm through 2001.
- Ralph Cooper (Worthing High School): The host of “Sports Rap” and former Forward Times journalist was inducted into the Texas Radio Hall of Fame in 2020. He was mentored by KYOK radio’s Rick Roberts in 1973. In 1984, Cooper moved to his new home at KCOH 1430 AM, where he has been a primary staple with a huge following ever since. Over the years he has interviewed sports figures such as Muhammad Ali, Earl Campbell, Satchel Paige, Joe, Louis, Clyde Drexler, and Mike Singletary.
- Eldridge Dickey (Booker T. Washington High School): After a celebrated high school career, Dickey went on to play at Tennessee State University. He led the Tigers to a record of 34-5-1 in three years as the signal caller, passing for 6,628 yards and 74 touchdowns. Dickey ran the 100-yard dash in 9.7 seconds and 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds for the Texas Southern University track team. Eldridge then became the first Black quarterback to be drafted by an NFL/AFL team when he was drafted 25th overall by the Oakland Raiders, who signed him to a four-year deal for $150,000.
- Kat Espinosa (Bellaire High School): Espinosa was named All-Greater Houston Pitcher of the Year and District MVP in 2008 and 2009. In her final year at Bellaire, she pitched 189 innings, had 374 strikeouts, and a 0.70 ERA. Among her many awards at Oklahoma State University (2010-13), she was named All-Big 12 First Team pitcher. Kat still holds the OSU record in career appearances in the circle (164). She is second on the all-time career list in starts (118) and saves (eight); third in innings pitched (821.2) and victories (75); sixth in complete games (69) and strikeouts (664); and ninth all-time in shutouts (19).
- Carlette Guidry-Falkquay (Sterling Aviation High School): Guidry-Falkquay collected a total of 12 NCAA titles and was named Southwest Conference Athlete of the Decade for Indoor Track and Outdoor Track & Field for the 1980s. She won the then-Honda-Broderick Award as the nation’s best female collegiate track and field competitor in 1991. She won multiple gold, silver, and bronze medals in international competition, including gold medals in the 1992 and 1995 Olympics.
- Darrell Green (Jesse H. Jones High School): The fastest player in the NFL in the 1980s, Green played high school football at Jesse H. Jones High School. He did not make the varsity team until his senior season. Green went to Texas A&I University (now Texas A&M-Kingsville) as a track star, but also played football. He still holds the school and conferences 100-meter dash record. He was an All-American in 5 different track events. Green was the last player selected in the first round in 1983 by the Washington Redskins. He started as a rookie, led the team in solo tackles as a defensive back, and was runner-up to Eric Dickerson for Rookie of the Year. Green is an NFL Hall of Fame inductee, two-time Super Bowl champion (1998 and 1992), a seven-time Pro Bowl honoree, and four-time first-team NFL All-Pro as well as the 1996 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year.
- Dwight Jones (Wheatley High School): The 6’10” power forward starred at Wheatley High School in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He excelled at the University of Houston, and played 10 seasons in the NBA, including four with the Rockets from 1976-79. In the first years of integration in the state’s University Interscholastic League (UIL), Jones led Wheatley to three consecutive state titles from 1968-70 in the state’s largest division. Jones, who had 51 rebounds in a game in 1969, powered Wheatley to a 102-2 overall record, while averaging 28 points and 24 rebounds in his senior year. He was a key figure in the 1972 Olympic basketball game championship in Munich, which the United States lost to the Soviet Union. Jones was ejected from that game after an altercation with a Soviet player. It was later revealed that the Soviets “intentionally provoked Jones as they saw him as the key to the U.S. team.”
- Monica Lamb (Jack Yates High School): Lamb led Yates to the 1982-83 5A state championship and named to the All-Tournament team. She was selected in the 4th Round of the WNBA draft by the Houston Comets and led the Comets to two WNBA Championships in 1998 and 2000. She also led the USA team to the gold medal in the 1983 World University Games.
- David Lattin (Worthing High School): “Big Daddy D” was named All-State and All-American in both his junior and senior years at Worthing, and was the first Texas high school player to be named to the High School All-American Team. Lattin started as center on the Texas Western College team that won the 1966 NCAA National Championship. Coached by Don Haskins, the Miners were the first NCAA Champions that started five Black players (this inspired the movie “Glory Road”). He was named NCAA All-American in 1966 and 1967. In 1967, Lattin left Texas Westin College after being drafted as the number ten pick by the NBA’s San Francisco Warriors.
- Craig Reynolds (Reagan High School): The former Houston Astros ballplayer was named Greater Houston High School Athlete of the Year in 1971. He was drafted out of high school in the first round of the 1971 Major League Baseball draft. He played in the majors for 14 years (1975-89) and played for three teams (Pittsburgh, Seattle, and Houston). He was a two-time MLB All-Star with Seattle (1978) and Houston (1979). Reynolds is the only shortstop in MLB history to be selected to the American League and National League squads in consecutive seasons. He batted .265 his first season with the Astros and helped solidify the Houston infield with a .965 fielding percentage.
- Nancy Richey (Jeff Davis High School): Richey was among the Original 9 who paved the way for tennis to become a women’s professional sport. She and eight other women, including Billie Jean King, signed $1 contracts with Gladys Heldman and competed in the first Virginia Slims tournament in Houston in September 1970. That launched women’s tennis as we know it today. Richey won two Grand Slam singles titles (the 1967 Australian Championships and 1968 French Open) and four Grand Slam doubles titles (1965 U.S. Championships and 1966 Australian, Wimbledon and U.S. Championships). She won 69 singles titles during her career; was the number two ranked singles player in 1969. She won six consecutive U.S. Women’s Clay Court Championships (1963-68) and was inducted to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2003.
- Ken Spain (Austin High School): Spain played at the University of Houston with Elvin Hayes and finished his college career averaging almost a double-double, scoring 11.3 points per game while hauling in 9.5 boards per contest for the Cougars. Spain was drafted with the 20th overall pick in the 1969 NBA Draft by the Chicago Bulls. He played 11 games with the Bulls before signing with the ABA’s Pittsburgh Condors, where he averaged 2.2 points and 3.6 rebounds per game in 11 career games.
- Greg Swindell (Sharpstown High School): Swindell led Sharpstown to the 1982 5A State Championship with a 14-0 record and 0.65 ERA. He then led the University of Texas to three straight Southwest Conference titles and runner-up finishes in the College World Series in 1984 and 1985. He finished his Texas career with 43-8 record in 77 games with a 1.92 ERA; he completed 32 games in 50 career starts; also had 13 career saves. Swindell was selected in the first round of the 1986 MLB draft. He pitched for 17 seasons in the majors, playing for six different MLB teams (Cleveland, Cincinnati, Houston, Minnesota, Boston, and Arizona). He compiled a career record of 123-122 with a 3.86 ERA and 1,542 strikeouts.
- Joe Tusa (HISD Athletics): Houston ISD’s longest-serving athletic director from 1965-1989. He led the HISD integration of schools in the late 1960s as well as the 1972 inception of Title IX. He also served as an assistant football coach at his alma mater, Reagan (now Heights) High School. Tusa played receiver and defensive end for Reagan in the mid-1940s. He went on to play football at Rice and the University of Houston. Tusa became an assistant football coach at Reagan in 1953 and helped the program to a pair of city championships as head coach in 1958 and 1959. During Tusa’s 24-year tenure as athletic director, HISD won state championships in football, basketball, track, tennis, swimming, and golf. He was inducted into the Texas High School Football Hall of Fame in 2014.
- Delvin Williams (Kashmere High School): As a senior at Kashmere, Delvin was named to Parade Magazine’s All-American high school football team. He led Kashmere to a 12-1 season that year, rushing for 1,805 yards while also clocking a 9.5 time in the 100-yard dash for the Kashmere track team. Williams continued his athletic and academic career at Kansas, where he tallied 1,649 rushing yards (4.4 yards per carry in 377 attempts), 398 receiving yards and 15 total touchdowns. In 1974 Williams was drafted in the second round (49th overall pick) by the San Francisco 49ers, where he earned Pro Bowl honors. Williams set four 49ers’ team records in 1976. Williams was traded to the Miami Dolphins in 1978, where he was named to his second Pro Bowl by rushing for a then-team record 1,258 yards. That mark also made Williams the first-ever NFL player to rush for 1,000 yards for two different teams, set new team records for two teams and be named to the Pro Bowl for both an AFC and NFC team. Williams played two more years with the Dolphins and one for the Green Bay Packers before retiring with 5,598 rushing yards and 33 total touchdowns.
- Vince Young (James Madison High School): Young, the most celebrated high school recruit of his time, led the University of Texas to its fourth NCAA national football championship in 2005. Young won the Maxwell Award, the Manning Award, the Davey O’Brien Award and was a consensus All-American in 2005. Texas retired Young’s jersey in 2008. Young went on to the third overall pick in the 2006 NFL draft by the Tennessee Titans. Young was named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year (2006) and NFL Comeback Player of the Year (2009) in an NFL career that spanned nine seasons. He was a two-time Pro Bowler. Young finished with 8,964 passing yards, 1,459 rushing yards, 46 passing touchdowns and 12 rushing touchdowns. He threw for 4,860 yards; rushed for 2,764 yards and accounted for 61 total touchdowns at Madison.
Congratulations to all the inaugural inductees of the HISD Athletic Hall of Honors!