Soccer, Texas Hall Subjects Bring Responses ©

By Ray Sanchez

July 12, 2009

 Is soccer a major sport? It is world-wide. In fact, soccer is the only true world-wide sport.

 We in this country brag weíre world champions in baseball, basketball and football but itís a sham. Few countries play those sports. But just about all countries play soccer.

 Is soccer a major sport in the United States? Some people think so, and I guess thatís why some folks took umbrage with the fact I didnít include soccer as a major sport along with baseball, basketball and football in a recent column. Fans of Del Valle High School, which has won two state soccer championships in four years, were especially unhappy.

I DONíT BLAME them but including soccer as a major high school sport opens a Pandoraís Box. How about tennis, volleyball, track, golf? Have there been state team records kept on those sports?

I know El Paso High School dominated tennis statewide back in the 1950s under coach Maybelle Long. The Tigers won many individual and doubles titles -- but team titles?

And weíve had individual champions in the other minor sports -- but team titles?

Iíve been doing a lot of research this year and hope to keep doing some more. Iíll let you know more as we go along.

GOING BACK in history to find our former state high school champs has been a lot of fun for me and such columns spark interest, replies and information from readers.

For instance, many people, including local sports historians like Steve Hill, were surprised to learn that El Paso High School had played in eight state championship basketball games and won four of them. Frankly, I wasnít aware of it, either, until I started the research last year.

All in all, El Paso teams have won seven state crowns in high school major sports -- El Paso High four in basketball, Eastwood one in basketball and Bowie High and Socorro one each in baseball.

KEVIN LOVELL, general manager of KVIA-TV, was astonished to read in this column that Nolan Richardson has not been inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame. He says itís ridiculous and that heís ready to campaign for Richardsonís induction.

Richardson is the only El Paso athlete I know of who not only played football, baseball and basketball in high school but was voted All-District in all three sports. Then he starred in basketball at UTEP.

After his playing days, he went on to have an outstanding and unique career in coaching. He is still the only basketball coach to win all three major college basketball championships Ė junior college tournament, the NIT and the NCAA.

RENTEN HILBURN, media relations director of the Sun Bowl, corrected me on one point I made in an earlier column.

Jesse Whittenton was not inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame.

Either is a huge honor and one can agree that the former UTEP star certainly deserves to be inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame alongside Don Maynard, another UTEP star who has already been voted in.

At UTEP (then Texas Western College), Whittenton played fullback his first year, halfback his second and quarterback his last two. He was the Sun Bowl MVP in 1955 after leading the Miners to a 47-20 victory over Florida State.

At Green Bay, he helped the Packers win two NFL titles and was voted to the Pro Bowl four times.

And just for a kicker, did you know that he and his cousin, Don Whittington, put up the money to get Lee Trevino started on the PGA Tour?

Veteran sports journalist and author Ray Sanchez welcomes suggestions for his column. Contact him at (915) 584-0626, by e-mail at rayf358@yahoo.com or online at www.raysanchezbooks.com