Several generations of athletes were honored on Thursday when they were inducted into the Waxahachie Athletics Hall of Fame. The inductees were recognized for their contributions to the community, both on and off the field.
Mike York was inducted into the legends category, which is made up of student-athletes or coaches who participated before 1968. York, class of 1955, lettered in golf from 1952-55 and was named the Waxahachie High School outstanding golfer from 1953-55.
In his time at Waxahachie, York earned both regional and state medalist titles in 1953, 54, and 55. After graduating from Waxahachie High School, he attended SMU on a golf scholarship from 1955-59. For more than 65 years, York has competed as an amateur throughout Texas, the United States, Canada, Scotland, and New Zealand.
“I am thrilled and honored to be inducted in the Waxahachie High School Athletic Hall of Fame. Golf is a great game that you can enjoy from eight to 88, but it is a game that you can never completely master. I think that is the intriguing part of it,” York said. “I started when I was 11-years-old with a small canvas bag with six mixed-matched clubs and what we call a shag bag, which is a little bag with 35 old beat-up balls in it.”
York recalled that he would spend hours at the Waxahachie Country Club in the summer, often having his mother drop him off at 8 a.m. and then pick him up at 5 p.m. He stated he got to know every inch of the grass on the course.
“I had no formal training for the first four years. What I did is I imitated what I saw. Quite frankly I saw some long loopy swings that were not good,” York said. “I finally got the swing and got the ball in the hole.”
Frank A. (Tres) Blankenbeckler III, class of 1968, was inducted into the modern-era category. At Waxahachie High School, Blankenbeckler was part of the basketball team. He was the co-captain of the 1967 state semifinalist team and was named to several all-district teams.
In college, Blankenbecker played for the University of Texas at Austin for three years. He left UT with a bachelor’s and master's in business and returned to run the family business in 1974. He serves as president of Carlisle Chevrolet Buick GMC Cadillac that was started by his grandfather in 1926.
Blankenbecker stated he felt very honored to be inducted into the hall of fame. He thanked the committee, his parents, the community, basketball fans, and his mentor, coach J.W. Williams. He stated that Williams was a tremendous influence on his life, often giving lessons in character and integrity.
“I give a great deal of credit to the good times in my life to the city and the schools here in Waxahachie. I had many thoughts and remembrances in my 68 years,” Blankenbecker said. “The memories of my time spent growing up in the athletic scene in Waxahachie could have not been bought with a MasterCard. They, to me, were priceless.”
The Waxahachie Athletics Hall of Fame also inducted two people into the friends category. To be considered for this honor, the individual has to have made a massive contribution to Waxahachie ISD athletes.
The first person recognized for his contribution to aid student-athletes was Chim Curry.
Curry is a longtime Waxahachie Youth Baseball board member and field manager for the Optimist Fields. At the Optimist Fields, Curry has helped with the upkeep of the fields, worked behind the concession stand, and kept the lights and scoreboards working, all while serving as a mentor to decades of athletes.
Curry stated he felted humbled to be recognized and noted the award is something that he will treasure.
“I have always been a part of the local baseball association for the last 25 years and still currently help to run the association. I really enjoy being around kids and playing baseball,” Curry said. “There is a lot of history at the Optimist Fields with history being made every day. I love to hear stories from former players that have grandchildren playing now. They point to where they had their first home run, threw their no-hitter, and had championships back in the 1960s.”
Curry stated he hopes to continue his work at the ballpark for years to come and hopes to provide more people the opportunity to create memories.
Dr. Rick Redington was the second person inducted into the friends category on Thursday. Redington came to Waxahachie in 1975 and joined the Family Practice Clinic with Dr. Nelson Jones and 2013 inductee Dr. Dave Williams.
He assisted Williams in volunteering his time along the sidelines as the Waxahachie athletics team physician. He provided care to local athletes of all ages and worked with coaches and trainers starting in 1983. He took over the primary role as team physician when Williams retired in 1999.
Redington stated he is proud to have been apart of the Waxahachie ISD Athletics Department for 30 years and is truly honored to be part of this group.
“I am so grateful to my late partner, Dave Williams, who invited me down to the sidelines when I came to the Family Practice. He didn’t have to share that with me,” Redington said. “From the sidelines, I got to observe quite a number of coaches and their approach to life and athletics. Jerry McLemore was a coach when I first came here. I got to observe Scott Phillips, Thomas Brooks, and David Ream.”
Redington stated Phillips had a unique coaching style. He would analyze the weaknesses of his team and the strengths of the other side. Then Phillips would confer with the other coaches and make adjustments to how the team would play the second half.
Redington stated his role as team doctor gave him a unique perspective, which allowed him to observe tremendous athletic talent.
“Where else in the world could I be on the sidelines of Texas Stadium or the Houston Astro Dome for the state championship game?” Redington said. “This was incredible stuff for me to get to do and I am so grateful for the opportunity.”
The donations from the public to the WHS Athletic Hall of Fame were able to fund three scholarships to graduating seniors last year — Caleb High, Jordan Michael Jeffcoat, and Taylor Stoops.
For more information on the WHS Athletic Hall of Fame visit its website at www.waxahachieexstudents.org. The Athletic Hall of Fame is located in the east wing of the Waxahachie Civic Center. The Civic Center is located at 2000 Civic Center Drive in Waxahachie.