The Southwest Conference Hall of Fame announced its inductees, and Baylor was not short of athletes on the list.
Fifteen former Bears will join the all-time greats in the Southwest Conference Hall of Fame in September. The class includes Danny Brabham (track and field), Fritz Connally (baseball), Todd Harbour (track and field), Don Heathington (basketball), Vinnie “The Microwave” Johnson (basketball), Jack Lummus (football and baseball), Bill Menefee (men’s basketball coach and athletic director), Deon Minor (track and field), Steve Macko (baseball), Natalie Nalepa (track and cross country), Del Shofner (football, track and field, and baseball), Stacey Bowers-Smith (track and field), Mickey Sullivan (baseball, football, baseball coach), Ricky Thompson (football and track and field) and Michael Williams (basketball).
Current Baylor head track and field coach Todd Harbour has had his share hall of fame inductions, as the track star sees his name in the Baylor Sports Hall of Fame and the Rio Grande Valley Sports Hall of Fame. But Harbour still thinks back on his days at Baylor and competing in the Southwest Conference quite often.
“It was a great conference, still great memories and great fiends I competed against,” he said. “I was fortunate to win a few SWC titles. It was a fun time, a great time of my life. I can still remember the one we won down at Austin when I was a freshman.”
Conference titles aside, Harbour was a darn good individual runner. He was clocked at a 3:42 in the 1,500 meters while at Baylor, putting all the hard work Harbour endured growing up in Port Isabel to good use.
After graduating from Baylor, Harbour ran professionally for Nike, becoming one of the world’s top milers. Harbour has been the head track and field coach for the Bears since 2005.
“We trained hard, growing up down here, running the sand dunes,” he said. “Running was never hard for me, it was fun and I enjoyed it. I loved it and had a passion for it. This is a great honor.”
On the gridiron and the track, few Baylor athletes experienced the years that Ricky Thompson did. Thompson was a member of the 1974 football team that won the SWC Championship after being picked last by many before the season started.
“That season was as much unexpected as this honor is for me,” Thompson said. “It was just one of those years that really came out of nowhere and was just a perfect scenario for Baylor. Of course, I don’t think there’s anybody that thinks about 1974 and doesn’t think about the Texas game in Waco. You don’t get to be a part of those too often and it’s something that you don’t ever forget.”
Thompson, who racked up 863 yards in his collegiate career, was just as successful on the track. Thompson helped legendary coach Clyde Hart and the Bears bring home a conference title, grabbing some individual hardware along the way. Thompson was inducted in the Baylor Sports Hall of Fame in 1992.
“I was fortunate enough that Coach Hart wanted me to be a part of that and win a conference championship and a junior national championship in the long jump, you just think back on all of it and it just kind of hits you in the face,” Thompson said. “This really came out of the blue, it was such a surprise, nothing you really think about day to day, really a shock.
“I’m just so honored to be a part of that group, fortunate to be a part of it. It’s just really an unbelievable honor.”
The 2017 induction class will be enshrined during a luncheon Friday, Sept. 8 at the Texas Sports Hall of Fame. The class will also be recognized the next day at the Baylor football game against Texas-San Antonio at McLane Stadium. For luncheon tickets, please contact Emily McAnsh at 254-756-1633.