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Speaking of local legends

Thursday, September 23, 2021
Speaking of local legends

Since moving to Iowa Park in 1969 and starting the Leader, our family has seen quite a number of gifted and talented athletes – both boys and girls – that have put their stamp on Hawk athletics, and made this town proud.

It would be easy to say the highlight of IPHS sports came in 1969 and 1970 with back-to-back state championships in football. And yes, they were a fabulous bunch of guys, surrounded by an equally-fabulous community, and coaches, and cheerleaders, and the band, and everyone who dyed their hair green.

But, prior to us coming to this town, there were two individuals I would have loved to have met – Weldon Bradberry and Bobby Gilbreath.

Bradberry was one of the top players on the 1968 team that made it to the semifinals. Tragically, he died after that season in recovery for shoulder surgery.

He will be honored this season, but I’ll keep that quiet until the week it happens. I met with his family a few years back to do a feature on Weldon, and laughed and cried with them through their stories. He was something else.

Another player who again tragically left us too early was Bobby Gilbreath, who was a track phenom from this very town that won eight gold medals at the state UIL meet, and in his first year at Texas A&M set a national record in the 400-meter hurdles.

After that season, he contracted encephalitis and passed away.

The old Hawk Stadium was renamed Bobby Gilbreath Memorial Stadium.

But, with the passing of years, a new stadium and high school built, and his name was inadvertantly placed on the backburner.

1974 IPHS graduate Jack Gilmore has been in touch with me for several months hoping to generate from me a feature story similar to the one I did on Bradberry, including offering valuable information, contacts, and photos.

And I will get ‘r done one day soon.

In the meantime, Jack has written a very heartfelt and timely letter to the editor, which appears on this page. This

This Wednesday, our press day, is his birthday.

He has friends and teammates that are still around, and were a part of the state track experience. You will hear from them soon.

When you get bigger-than-life Hawk heroes that leave a huge footprint in our sports legacy, you don’t let them go. You cherish their contribution, and urge each rising generation to emulate it.