Athletics Hall of Fame honorees named

Event is inaugural class of Odessa sports legends

Legends in football, baseball, basketball, golf and track comprise the inaugural class of the Odessa Athletics Hall of Fame, the Odessa American announced today.

Odessa American Publisher Patrick Canty said the hall of fame selection committee – composed of newspaper staff and community members — reviewed more than 100 nominations from the community and selected the following individuals to be inducted Oct. 14, at the Odessa Marriott Hotel & Conference Center:

  • Paul Chavez, Odessa College golf coach.
  • Johnny Gentry (deceased), former Ector High School track star.
  • Julian Pressly, legendary baseball coach at Odessa High School and Odessa College.
  • Angela Braziel-Smith, former Permian High School, Texas Tech University and WNBA basketball star.
  • John Wilkins, legendary Permian High School football coach and former Ector County Independent School District athletic director.
  • Roy Williams, football standout for Permian High School, the University of Texas and the NFL.

“We are so excited to announce this inaugural class,” Canty said. “These individuals are true examples of why the sports landscape in Odessa is so special — so rich and diverse.

“The hall of fame selection committee was simply blown away by the number and quality of nominations from this community. We wish we could induct all the nominees into this year’s hall of fame class. But that would result in an induction ceremony that would last for days.”

Canty stressed that all nominations not selected this year will be carried over into future years for consideration.

The Odessa Athletics Hall of Fame is presented by the Odessa Marriott Hotel & Conference Center and is a community celebration organized by the Odessa American and the Texas Press Association. Canty noted that ticket sales information for the event will be coming in about a week.

Paul Chavez

Chavez has been golf coach at Odessa College since 1996 and has led the team to three NJCAA national championships. Under his leadership, OC golf teams have also notched three national runner-up honors and four third-place finishes.

He was inducted into NJCAA Hall of Fame in 2007, the Western Junior College Athletic Conference Hall of Fame in 2014 and the Golf Coaches’ Association of America Hall of Fame in 2017.

Chavez also coached Team USA in the World University Games in 2004 (Thailand, bronze medalists), Turin, Italy (2006, silver medalists) and Switzerland (2014).

Johnny Gentry

Gentry was a true track star at the then Ector High School. A member of the Class of 1967, Gentry put the school on the map in high school track, helping lead the team to a UIL Class 3A State Championship in 1967. During that year’s state meet, he blistered the field, claiming state champion honors in the 100-yard dash (with a time of 9.5 seconds). And he was part of the school’s 440-yard relay team, which also claimed first place with a time of 41.64 seconds.

Gentry went on to serve in the Navy, where he trained as an operating room technician, and later returned to Odessa, where he worked in the medical field in various capacities before his death in January 2018.

Julian Pressly

Pressly’s name has been synonymous with Odessa baseball for decades. In fact, Odessa High School’s baseball field is named in his honor.

A member of the WJCAC Hall of Fame, Pressly led teams at Odessa High School and later Odessa College to hall-of-fame records. Under his leadership, OHS baseball teams tallied 162 wins, six district titles, while advancing to regional quarterfinal, state semifinal and state championship games.

During his tenure as coach of OC’s baseball program, the team compiled an impressive 163 victories in five seasons and won their conference championship each season.

Pressly has belonged to the Odessa Chuck Wagon Gang since 1960 and has served on the OC board of trustees since 2002.

Angela Braziel-Smith

Braziel-Smith first made a name for herself as a standout member of the Permian girls basketball team and ultimately returned to the school as coach of the team after having made her mark playing in the NCAA and the WNBA.

After graduation from Permian, Braziel-Smith played for the Texas Tech University Lady Red Raiders, where she scored 1,131 career points, averaging 17.4 points per game. She also averaged 7.62 rebounds per game during her career at Tech and had 117 blocks.

Honors she received during her time at Tech included:

  • U.S. Basketball Writers’ Association and WBB News Service first-team All American (1999)
  • Associated Press, WBB Journal second-team All American (1999)

She went on to enjoy a successful career in the WNBA, playing for teams in Charlotte and Indiana before returning to coach the Permian girls basketball team from 2009-2019.

John Wilkins

When people talk of the legendary Permian football program, Wilkins’ name is always part of that conversation.

He coached the Panthers from 1973-1985, compiling a career record of 148-16-6. He led the school to a state championship in 1980 and a 1984 co-state championship.

To this day, Wilkins enjoys the distinction of being the third-winningest coach in Texas high school football history, having compiled a .888 winning percentage.

He went on to serve as ECISD athletic director and helped build successful teams in various sports throughout the district.

Roy Williams

Williams was one of those athletes who distinguished himself while playing for the Permian Panthers and beyond.

A member of the Class of 2000, Williams was a stellar receiver for the Panthers. He caught 17 touchdown passes in Permian’s 1998 season (12 in regular season; five in the playoffs). He set a school record of 1,528 receiving yards and logged seven 100-plus yard receiving games. In the Panthers’ 1998 game against San Angelo Central, Williams set yet another school record with a 99-yard touchdown reception.

He went on to have a stellar career playing for the UT Longhorns and later played for three NFL teams: the Detroit Lions, the Dallas Cowboys and the Chicago Bears.

After his retirement, Williams returned to Odessa to start an oilfield trucking company and has been active in various local community causes.