The 2023 Big Country Athletic Hall of Fame induction class is a diverse group of athletes and
coaches who made their remarkable mark in seven different sports – football, tennis, track and
field, soccer, golf, baseball and basketball.
The 22nd annual Big Country Athletic Hall of Fame induction banquet will be held May 1 at
6:30 p.m. at the Abilene Convention Center. Tickets will go on sale in January. Individual tickets
are $75 each or $1,000 for a table of eight. Tickets can also be ordered online at
bigcountryhalloffame.org or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information,
call (325) 704-1759 and leave your name and number. The Big Country Athletic Hall of Fame
museum is open seven days a week in the Mall of Abilene.
Former Wylie football coach Hugh Sandifer, former football standouts Jerale Badon from
Abilene High and Mike Kinsey from Brownwood, Air Force Academy tennis coach Kim Gidley,
three-time national track champion Adree Lakey Whitefield from Roby, soccer star David Salas
from Abilene High and Hardin-Simmons, and PGA Tour champion Mike Standly from Abilene
Cooper will be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
They will be joined by the tennis-playing Meyers brothers – Chip, Mike Rick, Scott and David
– from Abilene Cooper, who will receive the Legacy Award.
Inducted posthumously as the Bill Hart Memorial Legend recipients will be former major
league manager Harry Craft from Throckmorton, basketball standout Harold Hudgens from
Ballinger and Texas Tech and former Stamford and Oklahoma football star and long-time high
school football coach Wendell Robinson from Stamford.
Here is a brief bio on the 2023 Big Country Athletic Hall of Fame class:
Hugh Sandifer spent 41 years at Wylie High School as football coach and athletic director.
He also coached the Bulldogs’ basketball team for 13 years. His career coaching record in
football was 282 wins, 109 losses and four ties. He led the Bulldogs to the state
championship game in 2000, 2004, 2009 and 2016, winning the state title in 2004. The
Wylie football stadium was renamed Sandifer Stadium in his honor following his
Jerale Badon, an all-state wide receiver, was a three-sport letterman at Abilene High. He
finished his high school career with 116 receptions for 1,853 yards and 17 touchdowns,
ranking him in the top five in all three categories. He then went to Abilene Christian
University where he became the Wildcats’ all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards
until he was passed by a player that he coached this year as a member of the ACU coaching
staff. Badon helped lead ACU to their first two NCAA Division II playoff appearances in
2006 and 2007 and was inducted into the ACU Sports Hall of Fame in 2019.
Mike Kinsey was an all-state defensive lineman at Brownwood in 1981, where he led the
Lions to a 13-1 record and a 14-9 victory over Sugar Land Willowridge in the 1981 Class
4A state championship game. That gave Brownwood its seventh state championship in 22
seasons under Hall of Fame coach Gordon Wood. Kinsey then lettered all four years at
Texas Tech, playing nose guard and linebacker. He was named team captain as a senior and
was selected to play in the 1986 Hula Bowl. Kinsey signed a free-agent contract with the
Houston Oilers, but a back injury prematurely ended his NFL career.
Kim Gidley played tennis at Abilene High and Abilene Christian University, earning allAmerican honors while leading ACU to a NCAA Division II national runner-up finish. She
was ranked No. 5 nationally in singles and No. 6 in doubles and was invited to the 1984
Olympic Trials. She finished her playing career at Southern Illinois-Edwards, helping the
Cougars win the Division II national championship. She was an assistant coach at Abilene
High from 1990-93 helping the Eagles win the 1993 Class 5A state championship. She was
then the head tennis coach at Abilene High from 1993-97. For the last 25 years, Gidley has
been the head women’s tennis coach at the Air Force Academy. Her 338 wins going into
this season is the most in program history. Her team entered this season with the longest
active win streak of the 27 sport teams at the Air Force Academy.
It is one thing to win a national championship, but Adree Lakey Whitefield from Roby did
it in three different events. A track and field star at Angelo State, she won the NCAA
Division II national championship in the hammer throw in 2007, the discus in 2008 and the
shot put in 2009. She was an 11-time NCAA Division II all-American and multiple-time
Lone Star Conference individual champion. She was named the Outstanding Female Field
Athlete at the LSC championships from 2006-08 and was also named the LSC Female Field
Athlete of the Year in 2008-09.
David Salas was an all-district cornerback in football and ran track at Abilene High, but he
is considered the top soccer player to come out of Abilene. He is the first soccer player to be
named to the Big Country Athletic Hall of Fame. After playing soccer for the Eagles, he
went to Hardin-Simmons University where he became the most dominant player in the nonscholarship era of men’s soccer at HSU. He is ranked first all-time in goals scored (46),
assists (23), points scored (115), game-winning goals (17), shots (285) and shots on goal
(140). He was the American Southwest Conference Freshman of the Year in 2003 and the
conference MVP in 2006. He was a three-time all-region selection and is a member of the
Hardin-Simmons Hall of Honor.
Mike Standly played on a state championship golf team at Abilene Cooper and a national
championship team at the University of Houston, where he was named an all-American. He
played on the PGA Tour from 1986-2010, winning one event and placing in the top 10 in 12
The Legacy Award recipients from the Meyers brothers at Abilene Cooper – Chip, Mike,
Rick, Scott and David – who have the distinction of being the only family in the history of
USTA Texas Tennis siblings to win the USTA Texas’ biggest and most prestigious
tournament, the Texas Slam, formerly call Sectionals. Four of the five earned full college
scholarships to Division I universities. Chip was ranked No. 1 in doubles in Texas in 1959
and 1964. He won Cooper’s first district championship and played at Baylor from 1964-68.
Mike (deceased) played at Texas A&M for two years. Rick (a member of the Big Country
Athletic Hall of Fame) was ranked No. 1 in Texas in singles and doubles and was three-time
all-state. He went 63-0 (a UIL record) and was a state champion in 1976. He played No. 1
singles and doubles for the two-time state team champion at Cooper. Rick was a four-time
all-Southwest Conference player at TCU. Twins Scott and David ranked No. 1 in Texas in
doubles and won a state doubles title in 1982. Scott played tennis at TCU.
Harry Craft from Throckmorton was a centerfielder for the Cincinnati Reds from 1937-42
and was on the Reds’ team that won the World Series in 1940. He then began his
managerial career in the New York Yankees farm system in 1949. That season he was
Mickey Mantle’s first manager in professional baseball in Independence, Kansas. He was
also Mantle’s manger in 1950 with the Joplin, Mo., minor league team. Craft managed
Roger Maris with the Kansas City A’s from 1958-59. He was the manager of the Chicago
Cubs in 1961 and the Houston Colt 45’s from 1962-64. He is in the Cincinnati Reds Hall of
Harold Hudgens graduated from Ballinger in 1957. He went to Texas Tech on a basketball
scholarship and was an all-Southwest Conference selection. The 6’10” Hudgens was
inducted into the Texas Tech Hall of Honor and in 2019 was inducted into the Southwest
Conference Hall of Fame housed in the Texas Sport Hall of Fame in Waco. He was drafted
by the Detroit Pistons in the NBA and the Colorado Nuggets in the ABA but opted to play
semi-pro basketball for the Phillips 66ers.
Wendell Robinson played on three state championship football teams at Stamford and
played football for Bud Wilkinson at the University of Oklahoma. He then became a longtime high school football coach in Texas, compiling a record of 224-110-4 at Santa Anna,
Merkel, Crosbyton, Spur, Lindale, West Rusk, Bremond and Bangs. He was inducted into
the Texas High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2002.
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