At the annual Lions’ football banquet Monday night, the usual rounds of honors, awards and thank yous were handed out deservingly.
But the biggest ‘thank you’ of all went to former coach, mentor, past superintendent, etc. Tommy Alexander.
Dave Hill took his time explaining to the audience, some of who were not even born when Alexander’s career began back in the 1970s.
“Henderson stole Tommy from Kilgore when he was only 26 years old and we never gave him back,” Hill said. “Tommy was named head basketball coach by Athletic Director Fred Jackson in 1973.”
Hill subsequently mentioned that Phil Castles came to Henderson via Kilgore, also.
According to Hill, “Coach A’s” teams were very adept at winning district championships. At one point, Tyler Lee High School begged Alexander to step up to the next level. Alexander passed on the idea and stayed in Henderson.
“Tommy is a sports man at heart, always has been,” Hill said. “He understood how important sports is to a town like Henderson.”
“That means superior facilities. HISD’s athletic program stnds on the shoulders of Tommy, because he made sure the foundation was laid for the superior facilities that we all enjoy today,” Hill said.
According to Hill, prior to Alexander’s arrival the football field was an oil dirt track, with wooden, splintery seats, a press box straight out of an old black and white film.
Over time and little by little, Alexander replaced the press box, added new seating, had cinderblock restrooms, concession stands and ticket offices, all at no cost to taxpayers
Alexander also saw to it that a new tennis facility was built, as well as a new girls’ softball field, located at the current high school complex.
Henderson used to play basketball on an old synthetic service. But now they have a hardwood basketball court that benefits the HHS basketball program – both boys’ and girls’ programs.
Hill alluded to Alexander’s childhood which was spent grooming baseball fields near his childhood home in Kilgore.
“The oldest of the four Alexander boys, at age 12, he was in charge of the baseball fields,” Hill said. “He watered, mowed striped and maintained the fields at no cost. That was a push mower, by the way.”
Alexander received a plaque and a standing ovation from the crowd.
Alexander rendered a simple thank you nod, for everything else had already been said.
In other banquet activities, the following individual awards were presented:
Game Changer Award
Sharon Florey – Counselor/teacher
MVP – Special Teams
Outstanding Offensive Lineman
Oustanding Defensive Lineman
Outstanding Defensive Back
Oustanding Offensive Back
Mahlon Acres Award
Fred Jackson Award
MVP – Offense
MVP – Defense
MVP – Team
Academic All District