COALGATE — Roland Fanning can’t think of a better reason to come back home.
Fanning will be a part of a class that will be inducted into the Coalgate Athletic Hall of Fame this weekend. The induction banquet is scheduled for 5 p.m. Saturday at the high school gymnasium.
“It’s an honor to share the Hall of Fame with my papa, Ernest Paul Fanning,” Roland told The Ada News.
Fanning joins fellow inductees Jonah Barnett, Tisha Martin, Chris Rainey, the 1958-59 boys basketball team and the 1972 Coalgate football team. It will be the school’s fifth Hall of Fame banquet.
Fanning, a 2001 Coalgate graduate, was a multi-sport athlete for the Wildcats. He competed in football, baseball, basketball and track. He owns school records for receptions and yards in a single season in football.
Fanning played baseball at Carl Albert State and Northern Oklahoma-Enid College before finishing his career at Southeastern, where he was a two-year starter and team captain.
He is in his third year as the assistant baseball coach at the University of Kentucky. Other coaching stops for Fanning included Southeastern, Oklahoma State University and the University of Arkansas-Little Rock.
“This is a really cool moment for not only me, but for all the teammates I played with throughout my high school career. I was very fortunate to have great teammates, coaches and teachers that pushed me to be the best I could be on and off the field,” Fanning said.
“I also can’t thank my parents enough for all their support throughout my career,” he continued. “I can never repay all the time and money they invested into allowing me to play sports year around. I’m so thankful to have them in my life, and this honor would not be possible without their guidance and leadership.”
Fanning and his wife, Beverly, have two daughters, Emery Jo and Eastyn.
Following is a closer look at the other inductees:
Barnett was a four-sport star for the Wildcats in the early 1960s and graduated in 1963.
“Big Jonah,” as he was affectionately called, started as a freshman athlete in all four sports. He was definitely a man among boys at a young age. He then played football and baseball at Southeastern. Barnett passed away Feb. 9 one week after being informed that he had been selected for the 2019 class.
Martin was a 1987 graduate who became a tremendous basketball player for the Wildcats. She was named Little Dixie Conference Forward of the Year in 1987 and made the Ada News and Kiamichi All-Area first team her senior year.
Martin still holds the all-time, single-game scoring record at Coalgate with 56 points against Antlers her senior year. In addition, she was an All-State performer in track her freshman year in the high jump. She qualified for the state track meet all four years of her career.
Rainey, a 1989 graduate of Coalgate, started three seasons and ended his career as the all-time leader in tackles made playing for the Wildcats, with an eye-opening total of 633. Rainey made All-State special recognition and was the Class 2A All-District Back of the Year as a senior. Rainey went on to be a four-year starter and team captain at Southeastern.
He was OIC All-Conference First Team in 1991 and 1992. Rainey is recognized by his coaches at Southeastern with being named the hardest worker in the offseason program all four years of his career. They named the award the “Wildcat” award. Rainey currently lives in Ada, and his children attend Byng schools.
This group of Wildcats owns the best record in school history with an astounding 30-2 mark. The Wildcats were coached by Dr. Joe Leone, who was inducted into the HOF in 2015.
The hoopsters from Coalgate defeated Stonewall in a tough district game before surviving Bokchito in a regional showdown. That victory qualified the boys to the state tournament, where they pulled a massive upset of highly regarded Taft, 57-45.
The semifinal game was a definite challenge, and the Wildcats were defeated by eventual state champion Waynoka 49-34. The team was led by starters Elvin Sweeten, Floyd Campbell, Lester Berryhill, Jesse Yother and Joe Vechnak.
Coach Donald Mike Mayer has always been known for his defensive teams. The 1972 Wildcats are considered by many as the best football squad in school history.
“If you had to use one word to describe this group of Wildcats, it would be defense,” said Steve Hudson, Hall of Fame banquet organizer. “These guys shut out eight of the 13 teams they faced that year. Only one Class A team scored on them all year, and that was in the loss to powerhouse Hominy in the state semifinals.”
The defense gave up just 77 points for the entire season. The Wildcats closed out the season with five straight shutouts before the loss to Hominy to conclude with a record of 10-3.
There will be a school mixer at the high school Saturday from 1-4 p.m. The banquet follows at the gymnasium, with a reception to kick things off.
Local artist Lee Jackson will be there to do free caricature drawings. Raffle tickets will be sold for a chance to win two tickets to an Oklahoma City Thunder game in the 2019-20 season. There will also be a silent auction, with various autographed sports posters among the items available.
The Donald Mike Mayer scholarships will be awarded to three Coalgate graduating seniors: Jayda Reed, Auston Crank and Triston Marlow.
The keynote speaker is 1971 graduate Jeff Mixon. Mixon is the only All-State basketball player in the history of Coalgate High School.
Mixon was a three-year starter for the Wildcats and was named The Ada Evening News All-Area Boys Player of the Year after a senior campaign where he averaged 26.3 points and 12 rebounds per game. Mixon scored a career-high 40 points against the McLish Oilers.
Steve Hudson contributed to this report.