The second annual White Hall High School Sports Hall of Fame Banquet was held Monday night in the high school cafeteria.
A fairly new tradition, the WHHS Sports Hall of Fame began in 2007 when Bob Leslie asked a group of alumni at an all-class reunion if they thought it would be a good idea to start such a program. Everyone agreed that it would and in 2008 the first members were inducted. Since its inception, 19 people have been honored with induction into the hall of fame. Last year marked the first annual banquet to help publicly recognize the inductees.
Steve Strahan, the banquet’s master of ceremonies, kicked things off with a light hearted welcome. Guests sat down to a catered meal. The dining tables were draped in black, white and red, and paw-print covered balloons floated overhead to show Bulldog pride.
Presentations began with the Athlete of the Year awards that recognized outstanding high school seniors in their respective sports. White Hall School District Athletic Director Craig Dupuy, shook the hands of the recipients as they each were presented with a plaque.
The Hall of Fame induction began by honoring Wes Booker as an outstanding athlete. Booker is a 1990 White Hall graduate. During his high school career, Booker he earned all-conference, all-state and academic All-America honors. He earned a full scholarship to play football at the University of Central Arkansas. Booker also played professional minor league football. Currently, Booker is owner of an insurance agency.
“Throughout my life I have been blessed beyond my wildest dreams.” Booker said in his acceptance speech. He thanked those in his life who helped him get where he is today, including his family, friends, teachers and coaches.
He also had a special message for the young people in the audience: “My motto has always been ‘There is no I in team’ and I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for others.”
The second inductee of the evening was Bob Leslie.
Leslie, founder of the White Hall High School Sports Hall of Fame, was awarded the Distinguished Service Award. An all-district football player in high school, Leslie graduated from White Hall in 1957 and headed to Southern Arkansas University, where he also lettered in football. In 1969, Leslie graduated from the University of Arkansas School of Law. He is an active member of the hall of fame’s board of directors and also serves as its attorney.
“It is a pleasure to be a part of this distinguished group of inductees,” Leslie said.
He went on to thank his support group and said: “I am proud to be a Bulldog.”
Ricky Mobley was the third inductee, receiving his honor as an outstanding athlete.
“White Hall has been good to me and I appreciate being here,” Mobley said.
Mobley was a starter on the Bulldogs’ 1966 state championship team, was named to the All-State team, and started in the All-Star game. He graduated from White Hall in 1967 and attended the University of Arkansas at Monticello on a basketball scholarship.
Mobley served as an educator and coach for 34 years before his retirement in 2005.
In his speech Mobley said, “I am fortunate to be surrounded by wonderful people.”
The final inductee of the night was Judy Rhodes. She was presented with the Special Service Award.
Rhodes is a former Bulldog cheerleader. After graduating from White Hall in 1973, she attended the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and was one of the first women to receive athletic scholarships for basketball, volleyball and tennis.
With a degree from UALR in hand, Rhodes began teaching and coaching. She was the longtime girls basketball coach at Redfield Junior High School. Among her achievements, she was named conference coach of the year in 1984 and 1993 and she has authored two books.
Rhodes is a competitive runner that participates in triathlons and marathons. She retired from teaching in 2005.
“This is such an honor because I am in such good company,” Rhodes said during her acceptance speech, referring to the hall’s current and former inductees.
When she talked of her life’s work she said, “Playing ball was the most fun that I ever had with sports and coaching was the most rewarding.”
All of the inductees took time to thank everyone in attendance and those in their lives who are important to them. As the banquet came to a close, the guests and honorees mingled and took time to pose for photographs.