EDINBURG — The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley Athletics Hall of Fame ushered in its 2020 Class Saturday morning, welcoming six new members and one team for their athletic achievements and contributions to Pan American University, University of Texas Pan American, and now UTRGV.
“We have a rich tradition and we’re celebrating that here today. I understand that our name has changed over the years, but our legacy and our commitment to our tradition is unwavering,” UTRGV Athletic Director Chasse Conque said. “It’s my promise that we’ll never forget where we’ve come from, those that have come before us, those that have changed the lives of young people, those that have given so much back to this university, and those that have done so much to bring great recognition and pride to this institution and the Rio Grande Valley.”
The team inducted into the 2020 UTRGV Athletics Hall of Fame was the 1989 Women’s Tennis Team. The 1989 Women’s Tennis Team won the American South Conference Championship, the first in program history, which was the only one until UTRGV won the Western Athletic Conference title in 2016. As a team, the Broncs went 11-6 overall and 3-0 in conference play. The team included Kim Butler, Barbara Gonzales, Leah Hampton, Gail Illingworth, Mary Jane Hetrick, Christiane Reetz, and Tania Webster. They were led by head coach David Cross and assistant Zia Kahn.
“It’s such a special time for me, personally, as an educator for 30 years, you teach, you teach and you teach, you go years without appreciation, thank yous, this and that, and then you get that one piece of harvest maybe somewhere down the road that pays back everything you went through, so this is kind of my seasonal harvest, so my heart is just really full today,” Cross said.
Individuals inducted into the UTRGV Athletics Hall of Fame were Michel Fabry, a men’s tennis player from 1990-93 who holds the program record in career wins (189), single wins (105), and ranks second in double wins (84). Throughout his career, Fabry was placed on All-Sun Belt Conference teams and named the Sun Belt Conference Tournament MVP and UTPA’s Student-Athlete of the Year in 1993.
Paul Friddle was the co-captain and starting point guard on the 1963 NAIA Championship team, setting a then-program record with 601 assists. Friddle also was the recipient of the Lou Hassell Award in 1963.
Bruce “Sky” King spent just one year at Pan American, but he made the most of it, earning the title of NCAA Division I Honorable Mention All-American. King averaged 31 points during his lone season with Pan Am and went on to be selected in the third round (46th overall) of the 1974 NBA Draft by the New Orleans Jazz.
King, who died in 2013 at the age of 60, was represented by his former teammate and UTRGV Hall of Famer Jesus “Chuy” Guerra. Guerra compared King’s skills to those of UTRGV players today.
“Bruce could jump out of the gym like Jordan Jackson. He could guard like (Javon) Levi. He could shoot like (Lesley) Varner,” Guerra said. “Bruce was quiet, he was humble, and he played hard in a dignified way. He was like a sponge with our coaches. He took everything in. He practiced hard and was always prepared. He transformed our program. If he was here, Bruce would want to give credit to and thank his teammates and our coaches.”
Westley Keating was a standout track and field and cross country athlete for UTPA as he was a three-time NCAA Division I All-American from 2002-06. Keating is also a two-time NCAA Division I National Qualifier with multiple program records to his name that still stand today.
Andre Rabouin was a pitcher for Pan American from 1969 through 1972 and was a key piece on the program’s 1971 team that reached the College World Series. Rabouin pitched a shut out against Harvard in the third game of the 1971 CWS and went on to be drafted in the 26th round of the 1972 MLB Draft by the Cincinnati Reds. He also recorded a 0.93 ERA in 1972, the fourth-lowest in program history.
Pablo “Pikey” Rodriguez spent 35 years covering sports at the university as a sportswriter for The Monitor newspaper. Rodriguez covered legendary coaches like Bill White, Abe Lemons and Al Ogletree, even traveling with the team across the country and appearing on radio broadcasts. He also helped the university’s first women’s basketball team with recruiting around the RGV.