If there was a theme at Saturday night's Gordon Wood Hall of Champions induction ceremony, it might have been "Brownwood rules."
Rodger Sweeney, the class of 1957 Mile Relay Track Team, Jared Morris, Tony Jones and Kirk Chastain became the newest inductees as they joined the fraternity in a ceremony at First United Methodist's Christian Life Center.
The inductees represented the world of announcing, track and football, and everyone who stood at the microphone — guest speaker Glen West; Sweeney's two daughters, Becky Cook and Sherry Saltzman; Ed Longcope, the only representative of the mile relay team who could be present; and football greats Morris, Jones and Chastain — talked about their love of the Brownwood community and the sports they played.
West, a 1980 graduate of Brownwood High School, has been the athletic director at Brenhnam High School since 1998. "Great memories come from Brownwood," West said. He said former teammate Craig Agnew "said it best — it was Camelot for us. What we were taught, growing up in this town, was how to be winners.
"What we learned from this community — we learned tow to be humble, we learned how to sacrifice."
Growing up in Brownwood, West said, young people were taught "it didn't matter what happened to you, but how you reacted to what happened to you. … We were taught 'it ain't about you. It's about what all of us together can do."
In a tribute to the toughness of the Lions teams, West said he and his teammates learned that when they got knocked down, they were going to get back and "they're going to have to be dealt with … you're not going to get me twice."
Sweeney, who died in 2001, was known as the stadium voice to the Brownwood Lions and Howard Payne Yellow Jackets for more than 40 years. Becky Cook said her father "approached life with a servant's heart" and dedicated his life to Brownwood, loving every sport. She said her father believed Brownwood was "the best place on earth, the happiest place on earth.
"He was the most optimistic man I have ever met. Our dad's mission was to improve and inspire everyone."
The 1957 mile relay team was comprised of seniors Robert Connaway, Longcope, Paul Piper and sophomore Benny Plummer. Connaway and Plummer have died. Longcope told of the adventures of running with his speedy teammates.
Chastain was named first-team All-State as a defensive end on the Lions 1978 state championship team and in 1979, when the Lions reached the quarterfinals.
Chastain said what had been ingrained in him was a hatred of losing — and he actually hated to lose more than he loved to win. Chastain recalled the discipline he learned from Coach Gordon Wood, and he recalled practicing on a snowy day and running in the snow at Wood's orders because players kept jumping offsides.
That wasn't fun, Chastain said, drawing laughter.
Jones, described as an 'interior anchor" of the Lions defense in the early 1970s, said he'd "learned a lot" from Brownwood, and said if someone had told him when he was in high school that he'd be where he was Saturday night, he'd never have believed it.
Playing for the tough Wood was a challenge, but "as a football team, we experienced a feeling of power and strength," Jones said. He said he carries the principles he learned from football throughout his life.
Morris, a first-team All-State selection as a linebacker in 1998, said he had "great coaches" and one of the first things he learned was hard work. Morris said he learned lessons "from this great game that you can carry into life." He said people are measured by "how they react when things go wrong. … it's just unbelievable what (football) can teach you if you allow it to."
Morris said lessons include "never give up, keep working hard when things are going wrong."