Monday, December 4, 2023

Texas Women's Hall of Fame to welcome legend


It seems Leta Andrews is in more halls of fame than Texas has heat waves.

Yet, the basketball legend always seems to get excited at the news of another accolade. And the latest announcement brought no different reaction from her when it was released that she is one of eight honorees to be inducted later this year into the Texas Women's Hall of Fame.

"Sissy, my daughter, got something about it. Now you're telling me, I guess it must be real," Andrews said with a chuckle at hearing the news for a second time on Tuesday earlier this week.

"It's a fabulous honor. I'm really honored by this."

Governor Greg Abbott and the Governor’s Commission for Women released the list on Tuesday. The induction ceremony will take place on Thursday, Nov. 9 in Austin.

Andrews retired in 2014 after posting a record of 1,416 wins and 355 losses, a career winning percentage of .800 and an average season record of 28-7. She led her teams to 14 state tournaments, capturing a state championship with Corpus Christi Calallen in 1990.

Andrews first coached at Granbury from 1976-80, leading the Lady Pirates to a state tournament appearance in 1978. After her time at Calallen, which she took to nine state tourneys, she returned in 1992 and remained as Lady Pirates coach until her retirement.

Her career started at Tolar. She also coached at Gustine and Comanche, where she reached state four times.

Andrews also reached state twice as a player for the Lady Pirates in 1954 and 1955.

Andrews is already a member of the High School Basketball Hall of Fame (inducted in 1995), Texas Sports Hall of Fame (2007) and the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame (2010). She was also named the National High School Coaches Association Coach of the Year in 2007 and received the Morgan Wootten Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008.

She is also a five-time finalist for the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame (2015, 2016, 2019, 2021, 2022).

Along with her coaching success, Andrews has received numerous accolades off the court. In 1993 she was named the Walt Disney National Teacher of the Year.

She also had a documentary made of her life titled "It's All in the Game: The Leta Andrews Story." The film, released in 2017, is narrated by NBA Hall of Famer Bill Walton and chronicles her life, including the years she grew up on the family farm outside of Granbury.

Among the many players Andrews coached was Jia Perkins, who enjoyed a career in the WNBA of more than a decade.

"This really puts the icing on the cake," Andrews said. "I've had a lot of special things in my life, but this being my home state makes it really nice."

Joining Andrews in being inducted are:

Opal Lee — Known as the "Grandmother of Juneteenth. She worked tirelessly to win federal recognition of the historic Juneteenth holiday celebrating the end of slavery in the U.S.

Mary Horn — Posthumous recognition of her legacy of dedicated public service in 26 years of elected office, including as the longest-serving Denton County judge.

Val LaMantia — Business leader as owner and managing partner of a beverage distribution company, serving the McAllen community. She was also a founding member of the STARS Scholarship Fund, furthering education for nearly 20,000 students in South and West Texas.  

Lavinia Masters — Built on her faith, she has spoken for survivors of sexual violence, raised awareness of a nationwide rape kit backlog, and fought to bring justice through legislative action.

Antonietta Quigg — In recognition of her leadership of critical marine-related research at Texas A&M University at Galveston and at College Station, leading to a better understanding of Texas’ coastal ecosystem, and for her passion in mentoring student researchers.

Charlotte Sharp — Posthumous recognition of her legacy of faith-filled compassion and generosity, volunteering her time and raising funds to help ease the suffering of others, comfort sick children, feed hungry families, and seek shelter for individuals struggling to find a safe place to live.

Elizabeth Suarez — In recognition of her journey of service and leadership in municipal government, forging regional ground and air connectivity for a seamless domestic and international transportation network supporting economic expansion in McAllen and across the Rio Grande Valley and Texas.

Prior to the induction ceremony, in a new tradition honoring pioneering Texas women from past generations, the Governor’s Commission for Women will also celebrate Melissa Dora Oliver-Eakle, a businesswoman and philanthropist who had a significant impact on the early history of Amarillo.

The Texas Women’s Hall of Fame was established in 1984 by the Governor’s Commission for Women to recognize the achievements of Texas women. Nominated biennially by Texans and selected by an independent panel of judges, inductees include former first ladies, astronauts, entrepreneurs, public servants, Olympic athletes, and other women of significant accomplishment.

A permanent exhibit is housed at Texas Woman’s University in Denton and currently features the biographies and photographs of all recipients.

“I am honored to welcome these accomplished women as inductees," Abbott said. "What unites them is the difference they have made for others. Women of vision, tenacity, and generosity, they are an inspiration for the next generation of leaders who will follow them."

Leta Andrews