The four newest members of the Gordon Wood Hall of Champions were honored during a Friday-afternoon luncheon at Brownwood’s First United Methodist Church.
Joe Loudermilk, Shelby Miller, Kirby Freeman and the 1967 state champion Brownwood Lions football team were inducted into the Hall and recognized during the ceremony. The honor, named for legendary Brownwood head coach Gordon Wood, is for exemplary athletes and figures from past Brownwood Lions teams.
Longtime Lions play-by-play man and Hall of Champions inductee Dallas Huston emceed the event from the FUMC Christian Life Center stage. He began by honoring the 1967 state championship team.
“On the 50th anniversary of the third state football title won by the Brownwood Lions, today we honor that 1967 state championship team,” Huston said. “Gordon Wood always fondly remembered this team because of what they accomplished without standout stars. In fact, only one player from that team was named First Team All-State.
“After the Lions were dubbed the ‘Cardiac Kids’ by the media because of their many come-from-behind wins, Coach Wood said the ’67 team wrote the book on comebacks,” he said.
Two members of the 1967 Lions spoke on behalf of the team, including Joe McCluskey. “I’m really having a wonderful time getting to be with this pride of Lions,” McCluskey said, “and to see these young men back there with those maroon jackets on" — the 2017 Lions — “brings back a lot of memories for me.”
1960 BHS graduate and former Lubbock High head coach Loudermilk was next. “When Coach told me about my induction, I had no words to say,” Loudermilk said. “I was totally speechless. This is too big for me.”
When a loud screech of microphone interference shook the auditorium, Loudermilk took the interruption in stride. “That sounded kind of like Coach Wood,” he joked.
Freeman, a 2004 graduate, joined the Hall where his brother Colby is already enshrined. “Football’s been in our blood for many, many years,” Freeman said. “Throughout our journey we had the privilege to stop in the town of Brownwood, and I’m happy and proud to say this is where I’m from.”
Miller, finally, spoke about growing up as a multi-sport athlete in Brownwood. A 2009 BHS graduate, Miller currently pitches for the Arizona Diamondbacks and is rehabbing from the Tommy John surgery, a reparative elbow procedure, he underwent in May. “I grew up watching the Brownwood Lions,” Miller said. “Playing with the Lions is something that I’ll cherish forever. Walking through that tunnel … is one of the best feelings in the world.”
The Gordon Wood Hall of Champions is located on the second floor of the Depot Civic & Cultural Center and is open to the public.