Navarro College’s Bulldog Hall of Fame will add seven members in its Class of 2023 when induction occurs during a luncheon Saturday, September 30 at the Cook Education Center.
The Class of 2023 features three athletes from football, one each from basketball, baseball and softball, plus the Hall of Fame’s third team in as many years. Their inclusion raises the Hall of Fame membership to 34.
Honorees include football’s Keith Thomas, Horace Ivory and Charles G. ‘Bubba’ Thornton, basketball’s Matt Pressey, baseball’s Brad Hawpe, softball’s first entry, Michelle Whipple, and Coach Whoa Dill’s 2011 NJCAA Champion Navarro Baseball Team.
Thomas and Ivory starred on first-year head coach Harold Hern’s Texas Junior College Football Conference co-champions (10-1) in 1973 and fashioned Navarro bowl-record performances in a 17-0 Wool Bowl victory over Fort Scott, Ks. They transferred to the University of Oklahoma, where they joined two other Bulldogs (senior receiver Billy Brooks and sophomore linebacker Reggie Mathis) on the Sooners’ 1974 and 1975 NCAA Championship squads.
Thomas, an NJCAA and JC Grid-Wire First Team All-American, caught 42-1038-11 in 1973 and capped that season with a Wool Bowl MVP performance of six receptions for 172 yards, while Ivory, a product of Fort Worth Nolan High School, ran 18 times for 102 yards in the game at Roswell, NM.
At Oklahoma, Thomas played strong safety as a sophomore and switched to tight end for his final two seasons. Ivory, however, averaged 6.5 yards per carry and piled up two-year rushing marks of 213-1390-11 on his way to the NFL in 1977 as a second-round draft choice of the New England Patriots. Ivory, named All-Pro in 1980, rushed 351-1425-15 and caught 54-471-2 during a seven-year career with the Pars and the Seattle Seahawks.
Thornton played defensive back and wide receiver (1965-67) before transferring to TCU, where he also lettered in track-and-field. Thornton, a 14th-round draft pick of the Buffalo Bills in 1969, became one of the American Football League’s top kick returners (30-749), finishing fourth in returns, fifth in yardage, and sixth in return average.
Thornton’s greatest athletic successes occurred in a 31-year career as head track and field coach at TCU (1982-1995) and The University of Texas (1996-2013). He guided TCU to five Top 10 and 11 Top 20 finishes with 39 major relay wins. At Texas, he guided the Longhorns to four Top 5 finishes and 13 in the Top 15, and 11 Big XII Championships. A Texas Track-and-Field Coaches Hall of Fame inductee in 2013, Thornton coached USA Teams at the World Juniors in 1996, the World Outdoor Mens in 2003 and in the 2009 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
Pressey earned NJCAA First Team All-American honors after leading Navarro to its first two NJCAA Tournament appearances, including a 30-7 mark and a fourth-place finish at Hutchinson, Ks., in 2010. The Region XIV Tournament MVP averaged 17.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.0 steals and reached double figures in 33-of-37 games, including 16 games of 20+ points. Pressey, an NJCAA All-Tournament team selection as a freshman Since 2000, Pressey leads Navarro basketball in career scoring (1052 points), field goals (312) and attempts (800), free-throws (243) and attempts (349). He is 2nd in steals (124) and 9th in assists (151).
Hawpe won a UIL Class 4A state title at Saginaw Boswell High School as a first baseman and pitcher in 1995, and an NCAA Championship at LSU as an outfielder in 2000. An 11th-round draft pick in 2000, Hawpe signed with the Colorado Rockies and played there seven of his nine MLB seasons. Hawpe became a National League All-Star and earned MVP votes for a 2007 season in which he hit a carrer-high 29 home runs, 116 runs-batted-in and hit .291. A career .275 batter, Hawpe had four 20-plus homer seasons and finished his career with 124.
Whipple played third base on Navarro’s consecutive NJCAA Tournament qualifiers (1999-2000 and 2000-01). The Humble, Tx., native was named an NJCAA All-American and the Texas Junior College Player of the Year. She still holds the Navarro Softball single season record for hits in a season with 186 in 2001. She finished her playing career at the University of Houston.
The 2011 national champion baseball team went 46-18 overall and 5-1 at the Alpine Bank JUCO World Series at Sam Suplizio Field in Grand Junction, Co. Dill’s fifth Navarro squad captured the title as J.T. Files slugged a two-run walkoff in the 10thinning to beat Central Arizona, 6-4. Current active major league pitchers Austin Pruitt (Oakland A’s) and Drew VerHagen (St. Louis Cardinals), plus Tyler Mapes and closer Justin Thomas headed NC’s pitching staff. David Harris hit a team-high .526 in the ‘Series, going 10-for-19 at the plate with four home runs and 12 runs-batted-in.