Mount Pleasant ISD has announced the Athletic Hall of Fame honorees for 2021. They include: Jackie Barrett, Holly Akers Brackeen, Corwin Elliott, Johnny Greene, Barry Hamilton and Hayes Lesher. Each inductee will be recognized prior to kick off of this Friday’s home game against Marshall starting at 6:50 p.m. A private, pre-game ceremony will also be held for the inductees, their families and close friends. The Hall of Famers will also serve as honorary captains and participate in the pre-game coin toss. In recognition of their selections, each inductee will wear a commemorative gold jacket during the pre-game ceremony. Portraits of each inductee will later be displayed in the hallway of the Willie Williams Gymnasium.
Jackie Barrett graduated from Mount Pleasant High School in 1953. He played football for the Tigers, where he was an All-District End and Football Captain, and also ran track. After graduating from MPHS,heattended Kilgore Jr. College where he played football and was on the All-District 1st Team and the All-Longhorn Conference Team. In 1954 Barrett was elected co-captain of the football team. In 1955, he transferred to East Texas State University and moved directly into the starting line-up. Barrett joined the US Marine Corps and from 1958 to 1960 where he played on the East Coast Football Team (Quantico, VA), and in 1960 he coached the West Coast Football Team (San Diego, CA). In 1961 Barrett returned to East Texas State and got his master’s degree in Biology. In addition, he served as assistant line coach at ETSU. In 1961 Barrett was hired at MPHS as a football coach from 1961 to 1966. He also coached Tiger track and golf. He began teaching biology in 1967, served a short stint as vice principal from 1976 to 1979, then went back to teaching until he retired in 1986.
Before his passing earlier this year, Barrett wrote in a letter to the Mount Pleasant Daily Tribune, “When I went through MPHS in the early 50s, it never occurred to me that I had the best slate of teachers and coaches that could be found anywhere. There were also outstanding men and women in town who were good examples for me growing up. The second group that I am thankful for are my fellow teachers and administrators and school boards who were in the MPISD when I was teaching. They were dedicated people who loved their students and supported what we, as teachers were trying to do. I am also very thankful for the parents who supported us as their children went through MPHS. There is also another group that I am extremely thankful for and of whom I am very proud. They are the students who were in MPHS while I was teaching here from 1961-1988. Some I taught biology, some I coached, some rode my school bus, and some saw me in the vice-principal’s office. As much as I loved teaching, and enjoyed the rewards I received at the time of my teaching, nothing compares with what I see and what I hear about what you are doing now. You have fine families, good jobs, and you are contributing to your community and churches. You make this old man very proud. I thank all of you and love you, and may God continue to bless you and your families.”
Barrett and his wife Inga were married for 63 years. They have one daughter, Leslie, and two grandchildren, Layne and Luke.
Holly Akers Brackeen graduated Magna Cum Laude from Mount Pleasant High School in 2005. She was a two-time state medalist in Powerlifting, a three-time state qualifier, and won the regional championship twice. She went on to set regional records in squat, deadlift and overall total. Her other powerlifting accolades include the Regional Best Overall Lifter in 2005, the Detroit/Powerade Invitational Girls Outstanding Lifter in 2004 and 2005, the Mt. Pleasant Powerlifting Meet Best Lifter-Girls Lightweight Division in 2005, and multiple invitational 1st place finishes. In addition to Powerlifting, Brackeen participated in track, was an MPHS Cheerleader for 4 years, and was a member of the National Honor Society and Student Council. After graduating from MPHS, she attended Texas A&M University, graduating in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and a Minor in History.
When asked about her greatest athletic memory from MPHS, Brackeen said, “My greatest memory while participating in athletics at MPHS was my final deadlift of my high school powerlifting career. I was on track to solidify my spot for the 2nd place state medal when I received red lights on my first two deadlifts, which had historically been my best event. Everything I had worked for came down to that final lift which ended up being a successful attempt. I will never forget the excitement my coaches, family and I felt on that final lift that helped me win 2nd place in the state.”
Brackeen continued, “The Mount Pleasant Athletic Hall of Fame is an honor I never expected to receive but an honor for which I am very grateful. It means a great deal to me that my hard work and determination is being recognized in such an esteemed manner. I am fortunate to have had the best coaches in Sam Parker and Landon Johnson inspiring and uplifting me throughout my Powerlifting journey and I would not be receiving this honor without their help. I would also be remiss if I did not mention the support of my fellow powerlifters that encouraged and helped me out at some of my biggest competitions. This honor inspires me to continue to always strive to be the best version of myself and to represent my alma mater in a positive nature.”
Brackeen is a stay-at-home mom. She and husband Tyler live in Bluff Dale, Texas with their two children, Brooks and Ellie Pearl.
Corwin Elliott graduated from Mount Pleasant High School in 1999. He was voted All District in football twice and was a member of the All East Texas team in 1998 and 1999. After graduating from MPHS, Elliott went on to play football at the University of Arkansas at Monticello for four years. He also played basketball for UAM for two years. While a member of the football team, Elliott broke the school all time rushing record. He was named an All American in 2001 and 2002 compiling almost 4000 yards and 40 touchdowns as a three-year starter. He was named to the UAM Hall of Fame in 2014. Elliott graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello with a degree in Physical Education and a minor in Biology.
“Athletics molded me into the man I am today,” said Elliott. “It has helped me build character, leadership skills, develop strategic thinking, set goals, and, most importantly, it kept me focused on an end goal.”
When asked what being inducted into the MPISD Athletic Hall of Fame meant to him, Elliott said, “Being inducted into the Hall of Fame is the greatest achievement an athlete could earn. My name will be forever ingrained into Mount Pleasant sports history. I would tell student athletes to set and write down goals that they might have. They should always remember that education always comes first. My encouraging words: You can always do anything you put your mind to as long as you work your hardest.”
Elliott and his wife Renata live in Denton with their fifteen-year-old son, Cameron. Elliott has been a firefighter and paramedic with Dallas Fire and rescue for the past nine years.
Johnny Greene graduated from Mount Pleasant High School in 1973 where he played football, basketball, baseball, and ran track. He was also a member of the National Honor Society and the Key Club. As a member of the Tiger football team, Greene was named an All District Defensive Back and Running Back and was selected for the All- East Texas Super Team as a Running Back. He was also a member of the 1972 state championship track team. After graduating 10th in his class at MPHS, he attended Baylor University on a football scholarship and was a 4-year letterman for the Bears. While at Baylor he was also very involved with Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Greene earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Baylor University and then graduated from the Baylor College of Dentistry with a Doctorate of Dental Surgery in 1980.
“Athletics taught me the value of hard work, discipline, striving together with others you care deeply about for a common goal and learning to keep on going, even when you are hurting,” said Greene. “I learned that there was great satisfaction and reward in just doing your best. In football our senior year we dominated every opponent, won the district title and went into the playoffs. Unfortunately, I broke my thumb on a halfback pass against Atlanta and didn’t get to play in the playoff games. Having such success with guys I had known since grade school was a very special experience.”
When asked what encouraging words he might have for student athletes, he said, “What a privilege to be able to train, and compete representing MPHS and Mt. Pleasant with your friends and classmates. Don’t settle to be average. Listen to your coaches, give your very best in practice and enjoy playing your sport. What seems like a long 4 years of high school is really such a short time and your opportunity to excel will soon be gone. The work ethic and discipline and teamwork you learn now will help you to be a successful person of integrity and honor in the future.”
Greene and his wife, Michele, have three children, Jay, Daniel, and Rachel. He retired in 2016 after 36 years in dental practice, but continues to pastor Grace Baptist Church in Mt. Pleasant where he has been the pastor for 23 years.
Barry Hamilton graduated from Mount Pleasant High School in 1972. He played football for four years as a fullback and defensive tackle. He also ran track for four years running the 100 yard dash, the 220 yard dash, and the 440 relay. He was a member of the 1972 state champion track team, was named District Sophomore of the Year and earned All District and All East Texas honors in football. After graduation, Hamilton attended Stephen F. Austin State University on a football scholarship for one year, then transferred to Baylor University where he played football as a walk-on for a year. He won the intermural track 100 yard dash and 440 relay and also competed in Bear Downs bicycle racing for three years. Hamilton graduated from Baylor University in 1976.
“Starting as a freshman, I’d made the varsity sprint relay team for four years and we’d qualified for the state meet for four years but my senior year was different. Taking along a mile relay team that could score 20 points with a first place finish meant we had a mathematical shot at a state title. And at regionals, our quarter mile relay team took first again and shaved two tenths of a second off the 42.7 we’d run to set a new record at the district meet. Running in the rain, we knocked a full half second off our regional time of 42.5 for a second place finish at state. Our mile relay team won. And Lewis Spencer added a third place finish in the 220. With that, except for the high jump, we were done, trailing by two points going into the last event and our ace was limping. Under more pressure than I could imagine, all Gary Miracle did that day was hobble out, soar 6 feet 5 inches for a third place finish, then crawl back to the bench with the three points we needed to win the state meet by one point. Half a century later, what I can remember about running the relay that day is that we didn’t drop the baton. And I remember how big Memorial Stadium at the University of Texas felt, how small I felt when I walked out on the track, and how good it felt coming home, riding back into Mount Pleasant.”
Hamilton and his wife, Lana, have two children, Krissie Ottinger and Rance Hamilton, and three grandchildren, Jackson, Carson, and Lincoln. They are the owners of Hamilton’s Jewelers in Mount Pleasant.
Hayes Lesher graduated from Mount Pleasant High School in 1989. While at MPHS, he played football, baseball, and soccer. He was a member of the Tiger baseball team that went to the regional Quarterfinals in 1988. In baseball he was named to the 1st and 2nd team as a third baseman and earned all-tournament honors. Lesher was a four year Captain and starter for the soccer team from 1985-1989. He earned 1st team honors all four years, was the district leading goal scorer for three years, and lead all northeast Texas scorers two separate times. After graduation he earned an Associate of Arts in Criminal Justice from the Houston Community College System, a Bachelor of Science in Business Management and Marketing from Letourneau University, and a Masters of Education from Texas A&M – Texarkana. In 1997, he returned to his alma mater as a soccer coach, teacher and police officer. One year later, Lesher was named the MPISD Chief of Police and continued to teach in the Career & Technology Department and coach soccer. In 2001 Lesher became the Principal of the Disciplinary Alternative Education Placement (DAEP) campus.
“Sports has made me a strong leader, with a driven heart for competition and a will to never give up or give in,” said Lesher. “My competitive ways in life have been ingrained in me from my coaches and leaders I have been blessed to work with. I owe a lot of self-motivation and self-initiated desires to accomplish my goals. I believe I was blessed with this but it was continued with great coaches. My biggest goal in life was to be able to provide for my family, my wife and children and now my 7 grandbabies.”
Lesher continued, “This award melted my heart and I am truly honored with being the 1st soccer player in the history of the MPISD school district to earn this recognition. This is meaningful for the 85 to 89 teams as well – the soccer program as a group. The MPHS Soccer team is very strong, and has had many accomplishments since we started the program in 1985. MPHS Soccer has created so many more opportunities since then and of course it’s the sport of the world. MPHS and the soccer program has sent many young men and women to college. I’d say the Superintendent and Coach who started the program here probably don’t realize it was their greatest accomplishment. The 1985 group owns a lot of the success, because we took all the sticker burs and lumps of the heads. It has been awesome to watch the program blossom into a successful program as it is today.”
Lesher and his wife Laura have four children, Joshua Lesher, Ashlyn Godoy, Ericka Savage, and Lauren Lesher, and seven grandchildren, Camryn Hayes, Lydia, Nolan, Braxton, Sebastian, Noah, and Kalani. Lesher is the Principal of the DAEP and the MPISD Director of Safety.