First Class

Ten former Wharton County Junior College athletes were named to the inaugural 2021 WCJC Athletic Hall of Fame group. Pictured, from (l-r) Will Parker, Venroy “Butch” Grant, Karen Hemingway, representing Charles Brown Jr., Jenny Banker, representing Johnnie Frankie, Elaine Anderson, representing Clifford Branch, Bonnie Sue Beard Pflughaupt, Caleb Smidt, Tyler Reves, Gene Bahnsen and Trey Benton III.


Wharton County Junior College kicked off its first annual Athletic Hall of Fame celebration honoring standout former athletes, late October in the Pioneer Student Center on the Wharton campus.

Along with a reception luncheon and induction ceremony for the 10 individuals who will represent the inaugural 2021 Athletic Hall of Fame group honorees received plaques of recognition to be installed on a permanent display located in the hallway outside the Gene Bahnsen Gymnasium.

“Going through your accolades, it was tough to trim it down to get it into this hour,” WCJC Athletic Director Keith Case told inductees.

“We congratulate each member of our inaugural class of the WCJC Athletic Hall of Fame,” WCJC President Betty McCrohan said. “These award recipients are among many alumni and employees who have contributed to the Pioneer legacy of achievement. We are very proud of these Pioneers.”

Named to the 2021 Athletic Hall of Fame were: Gene Bahnsen (coach 1959-1964, athletic director 1965-2019), Trey Benton III (rodeo 2012-2013), Clifford Branch (football/track 1967), Charles Franklin Brown Jr. (football 1952), Johnnie Frankie (coach 1948-1952), Bonnie Sue Beard Pflughaupt (El Campo native, volleyball 1982-1984), Venroy “Butch” Grant (basketball 1970s), Will Parker (Wharton native, football 1968), Tyler Reves (baseball 2004) and Caleb Smidt (rodeo 2010-2011).

“WCJC has an expansive history of athletic achievement,” WCJC Director of Marketing, Communications and Advancement Zina Carter said. “We are thrilled to now host an annual event that takes us back in time to remember and bring recognition to those who have inspired Pioneer success. We look forward to sharing these stories of success and hope they inspire future Pioneers.”

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.