2019 was one heck of a way to close out a decade in Austin County’s sports history. From the top of Bellville to the southern-most point in Wallis, it was The Sealy News’ honor to bring you the sports news for the county and there was certainly no shortage of tremendous accomplishments.
This past calendar year had numerous achievements not only on the district and regional levels but also at the state- and nation-wide levels with another border-breaking performance to boot.
The staff compiled the top 10 stories of the year on both the news and sports side and we hope you enjoy this recap to find out what the top sports story was this year.
A hearty crowd gathered on the grass in between the parking lots at T.J. Mills Stadium the evening of May 29 for the official opening of the newest monument that honors past Tiger athletes and serves as the aiming point for future champions.
The Tiger Wall of Honor recognizes student-athletes from Sealy who competed at the state championships in their respective sport as well as acknowledges the careers of a couple exceptional legends.
Becky Mills, the wife of the late T.J. Mills, mentioned in a letter to the editor a month prior to the unveiling that a sign used to be off the highway telling passersby of the athletic achievements of athletes from the town. Over the years, however, the wear and tear degraded the quality and it had since yet to be replaced.
“The individuals will each have a plaque recognizing their accomplishment and the date,” Mills noted of the wall in her letter. “All the original donors will be honored with a leveled plaque. Also, we will honor two legends, T.J. Mills and Eric Dickerson. Flying with the memorial wall will be the Texas flag, the U.S. flag, and the Gold Dot flag.”
She, along with longtime coach Billy Norris, elicited the help of local professionals like Clint Bollinger and Stephen Cryan who helped the project get off the ground. From there, Bollinger worked with other local businesses to gather all of the materials, including the individual stone slabs that were pieced together by Adrian Miranda and Apex Stone.
“All these pieces are 400 pounds apiece and they were all custom carved in their shop, this is not stuff you can just go buy at Walmart,” Bollinger said. “It may just look like one concrete wall but it’s all nice stuff.”
Surrounding the wall is fresh mulch and protecting the front side are two wooden tigers which were hand-painted by Mary Beth Curtis.
“100% of the project’s funding was raised by Becky Mills, Billy Norris and Clint Bollinger. The result is simply amazing,” said Sealy ISD project manager Mike Zapalac. “The monument is a tribute to former, current and future students and staff of Sealy ISD whom go over and beyond in all they do, always driving themselves to greatness and being an example to motivate others.”
Bollinger echoed those closing thoughts in his statements following the ribbon-cutting event.
“I think the thing that means so much to me about this project is the fact that it gives our children something to shoot for,” he said. “In the days where everyone gets a trophy, your name’s not going to land on this wall unless you’re the very best. That takes a lot of effort, takes lots of discipline and it takes lots of training so everybody that has their name on the back of this wall decided in their life to be exceptional in whatever sport and I think it’s incredible to honor them in this way.”