Wherever a few former Brownwood Lions are gathered, there are sure to be state championship and Coach Gordon Wood stories.

And at the ninth annual Gordon Wood Hall of Champions induction banquet Friday, the stories were as plentiful as ever.

“We didn’t think we were something special, we thought we were part of something special,” said Glen West, one of five of Wood’s former players inducted into the Hall of Champions.

West’s uncle, Royce West, who played on Wood’s state championship teams in 1956 and 1957 at Stanford High School, was also inducted. Kirk Wall, a 1967 Brownwood High School graduate and junior starter on the ’65 Lions’ state championship team; Tyler Tabor, an ’82 BHS graduate, and quarterback for the ’81 state championship team; and Perry Young, a 1970 graduate of BHS, and a member of the ’67 and ’69 state championship teams, completed the 2008 roster.

This year’s dinner, a barbecue served buffet style at Brownwood’s First United Methodist Church’s Christian Life Center, was served to a near capacity crowd. In addition to the induction of the five into the Hall of Champions, the 1962 Brownwood High School state championship track team was recognized for its distinction. Team members Max Emfinger, James Crow, Jeff Smith and Ronnie Davis, and Coach Gus Snodgrass’s widow, Sylvia, were each awarded plaques. (See picture, 1B.)

Young, now a coach at Burleson, said to be inducted into the Hall of Champions was an “overwhelming” thing for him to accept.

“I can’t put into words how much this means for me,” Young said. “I can’t imagine what my life would have been if I had not had the opportunity to be a Brownwood Lion.”

Of the state championship teams he played for, Young said, “We weren’t the biggest, the fastest or the strongest, but we were the best, and we were the best because of our coaches.”

Royce West told of how as a young coach in Stanford, Wood had stepped in “and picked up the pieces” in his and his brother Kenneth’s lives that their parents couldn’t manage. Wood enabled the West brothers to have groceries in their house and earn money from odd jobs, and pushed them both to earn athletic scholarships to college.

“God put this man in our paths,” Royce West said. “Coach Gordon Wood changed my life.”

Wall told the story that years after he’d played ball for Gordon Wood, when the family business was nearly bankrupt, he’d reached back to the lesson he’d learned training for a championship.

“Quitting was not an option,” Wall said. “We didn’t give up and we didn’t lose.”

Last year, the business had its 50th anniversary, and a third generation of the family is involved in its operation, Wall added. He said he’d had the opportunity before Wood died to tell him of how they’d held on, and how Wood’s influence had played an important part in the business’s success.

Wood told Wall hundreds of the boys he’d coached had told him similar stories. And it was those boys and those stories that made him decide early on, high school coaching was where he needed to be.

Tabor said that to this day, “I’m proud to be one of Coach Wood’s boys.

“I remember the feeling you get when you win a state championship. Not many get to feel that feeling, and I thank Coach Wood and all the coaches on that staff who gave us that.”

The five men inducted this year to the Hall of Champions brings the total number to 46. Previous inductees include: Jimmy Carmichael, Lawrence Elkins, Ray Masters, Gus Snodgrass and Tommy Vaughn in 2000; Tam Hollingshead, Mike Kinsey, Terry Southall, Jim Thomason and Robert Young in 2001; Joe Blagg, Sam Harrell, James Harris, John Isom and Ben Woodson in 2002; Walter Maloney, Bob Harrison, Ronney Moore, Billy Seely, David Henley and Jerry Don Gleaton in 2003; Shawn Hollingsworth, David Wallace, Jay Allison, Tommy George and Val Joe Walker in 2004; Mike McClellan, Scott Lancaster, Si Southall, Rollin Hunter and Kendal Nelson in 2005; Craig Agnew, Jason Cauble, Charles Goody, Gene Day and Ben Elledge in 2006; and Steve T. Cutbirth, Jimmy Piper, Shae Southall, Kevin Taylor and James Roy (Squirt) Thompson in 2007.