There were a few tears, lots of laughter, many memories and thunderous applause that greeted the six new inductees into the Tyler Junior College’s Sports Circle of Honor.
The new inductees were Ivory Lee Brown (football, 1988-89), Ike Forte (football, 1973-74), Mandy Nall (tennis, 1987-89), Scott Stewart (tennis, 1987-89), Terry Stillabower (basketball, 1964-66) and Delton Wright (football coach, 1981-95).
The six were honored with a luncheon in Gentry Gym on Saturday.
Five of the six were present to receive their gold jackets. Nall, who lives in England could not get her visa in time, was represented by her father, Andrew Nall.
Dr. L. Michael Metke, president of TJC, said the Circle of Honor members represent the best student-athletes.
“Since 1946, TJC has won 47 national championships and has had scores of All-Americans,” he said.
Dr. Metke added there are now 78 athletes, coaches and contributors in the Circle of Honor. He noted it recognizes outstanding accomplishments in sports and in life that reflect positively upon TJC.
Bill Coates, KTBB sports director, was master of ceremonies. He noted all the inductees followed legendary coach Floyd Wagstaff’s rules of “hard work, love your family, be grateful and carry your family name with pride.”
He added, “there are memories shared today that didn’t show up in the game stats.”
Dr. Metke and Dr. Tim Drain, TJC athletic director, presented the inductees their gold jackets.
Another great running back, Forte, was one of the top football players in Texas, coming out of Texas High School in Texarkana.
“I thank God. God blessed me at a young age,” Forte said. “I came to TJC and I met my wife (Glenda) here, going to class one morning.”
As a sophomore, Forte was a Juco All-American, rushing for 1,175 yards. He then went to the University of Arkansas and was named the Outstanding Offensive Player of the 1976 Cotton Bowl, a 31-10 win over Georgia.
He later played six seasons in the NFL for the New England Patriots, Washington Redskins and the New York Giants.
Nall, through her father, said “her two years at TJC were the happiest of her life.” Her father added that coach John Peterson “instilled a team spirit” on the players there who were from all over the world. She was the third ranked player in Great Britain before coming to TJC.
“On behalf of Mandy, she is proud and humbled by this honor,” her father said.
She led TJC to the 1989 national championship. Nall now teaches tennis outside of London.
Peterson said Nall was a two-time All-American and “Mandy was the nicest person he coached in 40 years. … She was a leader that kept that team together.
“I appreciate being associated with not only an athlete of her caliber, but as a person of that caliber.”
Stewart was perhaps the most emotional of the group. He thanked his father for the work on the tennis court and the track, Peterson and his wife, Dorothy Peterson, and his coach at the University of Texas, Dave Snyder and his wife, who made the trip for the ceremony. He also thanked Dr. Charles Johnson, a professor at TJC, who is an avid tennis supporter.
“Tyler has a special place in my heart,” said Stewart, who was All-American both years at TJC. “The people here were so good to me. Tyler meant so much to me, I named my little boy Tyler.”
He added coach Peterson and coach Snyder “not only taught me about tennis, but taught me about life in general.”
Stewart led the Apaches to the 1989 national championship and later was a star at Texas, going undefeated his senior season.
Stillabower, who came to Tyler from Lafayette, Ind., was one of the “Iron 8” Apaches that made it to the national tournament.
“Coach Wagstaff wanted us to have strong character and be the best ballplayer you could be,” Stillabower said.
He said at the national tournament, the Apaches went ahead by four in the first overtime and Wagstaff “told us to hold the ball, play conservative. However, the team tied us up. In the second overtime, we went up by six and coach Wagstaff told us the same thing, but they caught up again. In the third overtime, he said ‘forget every …. thing I told you. Go out and play basketball.’ We scored 25 points in the third overtime and won.”
Stillabower later worked as an announcer at KDOK in Tyler and coach high school basketball before becoming a successful businessman.
The sixth and final inductee for 2013 was former head coach and assistant coach Wright.
After coaching in Chico, he came to Tyler and was hired by then Superintendent Jim Plyler. He started the seventh grade football program at Moore Junior High and later moved to Hubbard Junior High and eventually to Robert E. Lee High School.
He then was hired by McGinty at TJC as defensive coordinator. He was teaching biology at Lee during the morning and coaching football at night at TJC.
Wright thanked his former coaches and players as well as his wife and the late Dr. Billy Jack Doggett, who hired him at TJC.
He was an assistant coach for nine years under McGinty and then was head coach for six years, winning three conference titles and being named the Southwest Junior College Football Coach of the Year.
SMOKE SIGNALS: Sadler’s catered the event. … Apache head football coach Danny Palmer gave the invocation.
Ivory Lee Brown
All-State tailback in 1986, rushed for 1,800 yards
—1987 graduate of Palestine High School
—Uncle of NFL 2012 MVP Adrian Peterson
—All-American at TJC and University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff
—In 1989, led the NAIA in rushing with 1,465 yards, averaging 8.3 yards per carry
—Drafted in the seventh round of the NFL draft by the Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals
—Played three seasons in the NFL
—Played for the San Antonio Riders of the World League of American Football in 1992 and led the league in rushing with 767 yards
Brown was an All-East Texas running back for Palestine in 1986, setting a career rushing mark for the school. At TJC, he was immediately a star in the backfield. He was All-American at TJC and transferred to Arkansas-Pine Bluff to continue his college playing days. At UAPB he was an All-American again. He was drafted by the NFL’s Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals and played in 1991 and ’92. His last year in the NFL was 1993 where he played for the Minnesota Vikings, the team that drafted his nephew. Brown’s Palestine High School single-season and career rushing mark stood until 2003 when his nephew broke them.
—Three-sport star at Texas High School in Texarkana
—Played running back and linebacker for Texas High
—Ranked as one of the state’s top high school prospects
—Starred as running back for Apaches
—Was All-American his sophomore season, running for 1,175 yards
—Set rushing and pass-receiving records at University of Arkansas
—Was 1976 Cotton Bowl Offensive Player of the Game
—Played six seasons in the NFL
—Has contributed to the NFL Hometown Weekend, a charitable event for underprivileged children in Texarkana, for 15 years
A 1972 graduate of Texas High School in Texarkana, Forte was a three-sport star in high school, playing basketball, football and running track. He made the All-District 14-4A on offense and defense, and was named the district’s most outstanding player. As a senior, he was listed as one of the top high school players in Texas by a poll of Southwest Conference coaches conducted by the Dallas Times Herald. He received honorable mention honors in Coach and Athletic Magazine and was a Sunkist Growers High School All-American, one of only 13 players from Texas to earn the honor. After graduating high school, Forte was recruited to play football at TJC, where he starred in the backfield. After battling a hamstring injury at the beginning of his freshman year, Forte finished the year strong, running for more than 600 yards in the final six games. In his sophomore year, he rushed for more than 1,000 yards, surpassing the mark in his final game for TJC, against rival Kilgore College. Forte agreed to transfer to the University of Oklahoma but decided at the last moment to accept a scholarship offer from the University of Arkansas. At Arkansas, Forte set numerous rushing and receiving records and earned the Offensive Player of the Game award in the 1976 Cotton Bowl against Georgia. Forte was drafted by the NFL’s New England Patriots and played there two seasons. He played three seasons for the Washington Redskins and one with the New York Giants. Ike is married to the former Glenda Taft, whom he met while a student at TJC. The couple resides in Texarkana, Ark., and has been married 37 years. They have three grown children and one grandchild. Ike is employed with Cooper Tire and Rubber Company in Texarkana. He and Glenda, a registered nurse, also own a rental property management firm. Ike has been involved in NFL Hometown Weekend in Texarkana for more than 15 years. NFL Hometown Weekend is a fundraiser for Faith, Hope and Love Foundation, a local after-care center for disadvantaged children. The fundraiser includes a dinner, golf tournament, football camp, cheerleading camp and a basketball game between current and former NFL players and either a police or fire department team. In 2010, Ike was inducted into the University of Arkansas Hall of Honor. Forte and his wife are also involved in the Alzheimer’s Alliance, Relay for Life and the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Texarkana.
—Top-seeded player on TJC women’s teams her freshman and sophomore years
—Top-ranked NJCAA player her freshman year
—Contributed to TJC’s 1989 national championship team with singles and doubles victories
—Hailed by Coach John Peterson as his most coachable player
—Was All-Metro Conference selection at South Carolina State University
—Metro Conference No. 4 Singles Champion in 1990 and conference’s No. 2 Doubles Champion.
—Had a 46-28 record in singles play and a 19-11 mark as a doubles player at SCSU
—Now teaches tennis at a club outside of London.
From near Oxford, England, Nall was the third ranked player in her age category in Great Britain when she completed high school. She was encouraged to attend TJC by the head of the women’s tennis program in Great Britain who had visited TJC on a U.S. trip to see other prominent tennis programs, including Stanford University, the University of Florida and the University of Arizona. Her first year, Nall was the No. 1-ranked player in the nation. The TJC women’s tennis teamwound up third in the nation after being top-ranked nearly the entire season. Coach John Peterson told a reporter during the season that he felt the TJC women’s team was the best in the nation. After falling to three in the national tournament, Peterson told the same reporter that “we didn’t come here to get third” and vowed to make certain his team was in better physical shape and more mentally prepared the following season. Peterson also said he’d “like to have a team full of guys and girls like (Mandy). She’s fun to coach, not only because she listens but she can make a point of making what she hears a part of her game plan.” In 1989, although Nall suffered from jitters early on in the national tournament and didn’t play her best, she still won and the TJC team won the national title with one day of play left. After TJC, Nall accepted a scholarship to play tennis at South Carolina State University. Nall was the Metro Conference No. 4 Singles Champion in 1990 and the conference’s No. 2 Doubles Champion. She had a 46-28 record in singles play and a 19-11 mark as a doubles player at SCSU. After college, Nall returned to England.
—Highly recruited player from Beaumont Westbrook High School
—Ranked third in the nation his freshman year at TJC
—Had singles victories against Rice, Oklahoma and Arkansas his freshman year
—Led Apaches to national championship in sophomore year
—Had singles victories against Tulsa, Iowa State, Oklahoma and North Texas his sophomore year
—Had a dual record of 41-11 at TJC
—Transferred to the University of Texas, where he starred for the Longhorns
—Was undefeated his senior season at Texas
—Named to the NJCAA Men’s Tennis Team of the Century in 2001
Stewart had planned to go to the University of Texas but his father felt his son needed more individual attention and that attending a junior college would allow him to mature before facing a large university. So, he came to TJC. He was ranked third in the nation his freshman year and the team finished third at the national tournament. In 1989, TJC won the national tournament on their home courts in Tyler. Stewart went on to UT Austin and starred. He was undefeated his senior season. He finished 55-23 overall at Texas, with a .705 win percentage. Stewart is now the head pro at The Racquet Club in Midland. He has continued his competitive spirit by competing in tennis tournaments throughout the country. Stewart was named to the National Junior College Athletic Association’s Men’s Tennis Team of the Century in 2001. Stewart met his wife while attending TJC. The Stewarts have four children, all of whom have enjoyed tennis.
—Three-sport star at Jefferson High School in Lafayette, Ind.
—Helped lead his team to state title in 1964
—Was recruited by TJC head coach Floyd Wagstaff and averaged nearly 20 points per game as a freshman
—Was a member of the “Iron 8” Apaches team that advanced to the 1966 national tournament
—Starred at Ball State University after TJC
—Scored 40 points on 20 of 24 field goal attempts for Ball State against Indiana State
—Was invited to rookie camp for the ABA’s Indiana Pacers
Stillabower grew up in the nation’s basketball state of Indiana. The sharp-shooting guard helped lead his Jefferson High School team to a state title in 1964. Stillabower averaged nearly 20 points a game for TJC his freshman season. He helped lead the Apaches to the national tournament in Hutchinson, Kan., in 1966, where they finished seventh overall. Returned to Indiana to play for Ball State University. He was Ball State’s leading scorer. After his playing days at BSU, Stillabower transferred to East Texas State University, where he completed a bachelor’s degree. After graduation, he coached high school basketball in Knox City, leading teams to three straight district titles. Stillabower left coaching to begin a business career in electrical supply. He built a thriving business that he later sold. Stillabower now works with Englobal Engineering as general manager of Houston operations.
—Earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from East Texas State University
—Coached high school football for 17 years
—Was in Tyler Independent School District for 15 years, including six years as defensive coordinator for Robert E. Lee High School
—Served TJC as secondary coach, defensive coordinator and head coach for 16 years
—Coached numerous All-Americans
—Led teams to Southwest Junior College Football Conference championships his first three seasons as head coach
—Coached TJC teams in six post-season bowl games
—Career head coaching record of 35-17 at TJC
—Named SJCFC Coach of the Year three times
Coach Wright graduated from Brownsboro High School in 1958 and attended East Texas State University where he received his bachelor’s degree in biology and kinesiology and his master’s degree in secondary and higher education. Wright began his coaching career in Chico, and moved to Tyler where he coached in the Tyler Independent School District for 15 years, starting out at Moore Junior High, followed by Hubbard Junior High and then Robert E. Lee High. In 1980, Wright was hired to coach defense for the TJC Apaches and coach Charlie McGinty, where he worked directly with three defensive secondary players who were named All-Americans. In 1990, Wright was named head coach. Under Wright’s leadership, the Apaches won the Southwest Junior College Football Conference in 1990, 1991 and 1992. Wright was named Coach of the Year all three of those seasons. As a head coach, his record at TJC was 35-17. Wright retired from TJC in 1995. He and his wife Kay reside in Emerald Bay in Bullard.