The inductees at the 56th Annual Panhandle Sports Hall of Fame Ceremony included a tennis legend, a volleyball player who some say is the best to come out of the area and a football coach who took his teams to several championship games.
For 60 years of his life, Leo LaBorde was known for his strategies and teaching on the tennis court.
He began playing at age 16 in Beaumont and eventually went to the University of Texas, where he played No. 2 singles.
After coaching at the Dallas Athletic Club and Southern Methodist University, he became the coach of the Amarillo College tennis team in 1969 until AC dropped the sport in 1978.
LaBorde was involved with tennis until he died at age 94 in 2012. Leo LaBorde Jr. accepted his father’s induction at the Feb. 9 ceremony.
“He was embraced by this community,” LaBorde Jr. said. “He made so many friends here.”
Sarah Butler Carthel played volleyball at Amarillo High School, leading the Sandies to the Class 5A state championship in 1994 as a junior. She was given the Most Valuable Player award.
Carthel signed on to play for the Lady Longhorns at the University of Texas and was named the Big 12 Conference Freshman of the Year in 1996.
After her first year, she left UT to be closer to home and attended West Texas A&M for three seasons. She led the Lady Buffs to the 1997 Division II national title and then a national semifinal finish in 1999.
“From the outside it seems like the Panhandle doesn’t have much to offer, but to me it has its own unique beauty,” Butler Carthel said. “Anybody that has seen a sunrise or sunset here knows what I’m talking about.”
Coach Don Carthel took both Eastern New Mexico and West Texas A&M to championship glory. For five out of eight years, his WT football teams won 11 games or more. He won four Lone Star Conference Championships,one with ENMU and three with WT. Many have said Carthel had the best run of any WT head football coach.
Don Carthel said he was overwhelmed when he was selected for the hall of fame.
“It’s an awesome honor,” he said. “It’s humbling, and I had no idea and really don’t think I deserve to be in this class, but I’m tickled to be here.”
All the inductees of the Panhandle Sports Hall of Fame are featured in the books, Pride of the Plains, published in 2008, and more recently Pride of the Plains 2.