News Archives: Athletics

Community supports hurricane victims through HPU donation drive

HPU donation drive 1 for webBROWNWOOD – September 5, 2017 – Howard Payne University’s Yellow Jacket baseball team hosted a donation drive for hurricane victims on Saturday, collecting approximately 1,000 cases of water and hundreds of other items including money, cleaning supplies, hygiene items, tools and pet food to deliver to the Gulf Coast and southeast Texas.

“We’re thankful to the many individuals and businesses in Brown County who have supported HPU’s efforts in providing relief to the victims of Hurricane Harvey,” said Stephen Lynn, head baseball coach. “Several groups brought trucks and trailers full of supplies to donate. It was great to see the community turn out to support those in need.”

HPU donation drive 2 for webThe team will partner with others on campus to deliver the items to the Gulf Coast this weekend. There, the group’s efforts will be facilitated by Joseph Jones, HPU alumnus and pastor of First Baptist Church of Port Lavaca.

Through Friday, September 8, Weakley-Watson Ace Hardware is discounting by 25 percent purchases listed as hurricane relief items. Once purchased, the items may be left at the store and HPU’s baseball team will collect them for distribution.

HPU donation drive 3 for webThose who were unable to attend the drive may coordinate with the baseball team to have donation items collected. For more information, contact Robert Anders, assistant baseball coach, at 972-322-4116 or randers@hputx.edu.

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Cutlines:

1. Members of HPU’s Yellow Jacket baseball team stack items at the team’s recent donation drive to assist with Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.

2. HPU baseball players unload cleaning supplies donated by a community member.

3. HPU’s baseball team collected approximately 1,000 cases of water during its recent donation drive.

HPU baseball partners with Weakley-Watson for hurricane relief

BROWNWOOD – August 30, 2017 – Howard Payne University’s baseball team is partnering with Weakley-Watson Ace Hardware of Brownwood to provide relief amidst the ongoing devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey along Texas’ Gulf Coast. The team’s efforts are bolstered by a variety of other campus groups and individuals.

HPU will host a donation drive this Saturday, September 2, from 9 a.m. to noon at the former Hastings’ parking lot, 600 N. Center Ave. in Brownwood. The following weekend, the baseball team and other campus volunteers will travel to southeast Texas to distribute items and money collected to those in need. There, the group’s efforts will be facilitated by Joseph Jones, HPU alumnus and pastor of First Baptist Church of Port Lavaca.

Donations most needed include personal hygiene items, cleaning supplies, non-perishable foods, and new and used tools including crowbars, rakes, saws, shovels and other tools that can assist in cleanup efforts.

In addition to the donation drive at the former Hastings’ parking lot, Weakley-Watson Ace Hardware, 1414 Austin Ave. in Brownwood, will discount by 25 percent purchases listed as hurricane relief items. Once purchased, the items may be left at the store and HPU’s baseball team will collect them for distribution. Weakley-Watson will also serve as a donation drop-off location.

“HPU is blessed to be in Brown County, a place where businesses and individuals step up to help those in need,” said Stephen Lynn, head baseball coach. “We look forward to seeing the turnout at Saturday’s donation drive and we thank you in advance for your contributions.”

Those who prefer to offer financial support may mail a check, designated “Hurricane Relief,” to HPU’s Office of Institutional Advancement, P.O. Box 2369, Brownwood, TX 76804 by Tuesday, September 5. As financial donations will go directly to those in need, they will not be considered tax-deductible gifts to the university and receipts will not be mailed.

Anyone unable to attend the drive may coordinate with the baseball team to have donation items collected. For more information, or to schedule a collection time, contact Robert Anders, assistant baseball coach, at 972-322-4116 or randers@hputx.edu.

Dr. Bill Ellis, HPU president, said the university is deeply saddened by the devastation along the Gulf Coast and in the other areas affected by Hurricane Harvey.

“We’re thankful that, through the leadership efforts of our baseball team and with support from other campus groups and the community, we can share resources with those in need,” he said. “Most of all, we pray for God’s comfort and protection over our friends, loved ones and all others impacted by this tragedy.”

HPU has created a Facebook group to host requests for hurricane relief assistance and offers for donations and volunteer hours. To join the group visit www.facebook.com/groups/hpu.hurricane.relief.

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First group of HPU students arrive on campus for fall semester

Callaway and FloydJohnson at Taylor Hall for web
Drills for web
Team Meetin g with Coach Harris for web

BROWNWOOD – August 8, 2017 – Approximately 130 new and returning Howard Payne University football players moved into residence halls Monday morning in advance of the fall 2017 athletic season. More students will arrive on campus next week, with classes beginning August 21.

The athletes will attend a variety of meetings and events as they get to know one another and the coaching staff. Football practice began Tuesday morning.

“We are excited about everyone being on campus now and starting the process of building the future of HPU football,” said Braxton Harris, head coach. “This is a great group of young men establishing the foundation of the program.”

More information about HPU’s athletic program, including the fall 2017 schedule of games, is located at www.hpusports.com.

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Cutlines:

Cameron Callaway, Jr., (left) of Gladewater and Terry Floyd-Johnson of Longview, both incoming freshmen, are among the 130 football players to check into HPU’s Thomas Taylor Hall and Jennings Hall.

New and returning HPU football players run drills during practice Tuesday morning.

Braxton Harris, head football coach, addresses the student-athletes during a team meeting.

HPU alumnus named men’s athletic chaplain at Texas Tech University

Corbin YoungBROWNWOOD – March 9, 2017 – Howard Payne University alumnus Corbin Young was recently appointed by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes the new men’s athletic chaplain at Texas Tech University. In this position, Young serves the seven men’s sports teams at Texas Tech by encouraging and equipping the coaches and athletes through Christ.

“I’m excited and humbled beyond words by this opportunity to represent Christ, through the ministry of FCA, at one of the largest state schools in Texas,” Young said. “Serving in this capacity, as a college sports chaplain, has been a ministry dream job for me since I first surrendered to God’s calling on my life at 18 years old.”

Young said college students, particularly male student-athletes, are among the church’s most unreached people groups in the nation.

“Consequently, I see this as one of the most strategic and vital ministry opportunities for advancing the Gospel in our sports-obsessed culture,” he said. “As I seek to earn the trust of these Red Raiders, my role will be all about building relationships and making disciples by encouraging and equipping them in their faith, character and leadership through the loving ministry of presence.”

Young, a former HPU student-athlete, earned his bachelor’s degree in practical theology in 2010 and a master’s degree in theology and ministry in 2014. He was a four-year letterman in football (2006-2009), team captain (2009), American Southwest Conference all-conference slot receiver (2009), three-time academic all-conference selection (2007-2009) and a collegiate national championship qualifier in Olympic weightlifting (2007).

“Corbin was a model student-athlete while he attended HPU,” said Hunter Sims, the university’s athletic director. “We are extremely proud of his service to the Kingdom and to have him as an alumnus.”

Young began working with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in 2010 as the Big Country area representative based in Brownwood. In 2013, he became the founding area director for the organization in Midland where, under his leadership, the FCA staff and ministry rapidly grew around the Permian Basin.

He is a licensed and ordained Baptist minister and has served on staff at churches in Brownwood and Paradise as well as in Saskatchewan, Canada. Most recently, he served as the lead pastor at First Baptist Church of Tarzan, Texas.

Young is married to Kandace (Schuelke) Young, also an HPU graduate and former student-athlete. They have a 4-year-old son, Kensler, and a second child due in August 2017.

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Cutline: HPU alumnus Corbin Young was recently named the men’s athletic chaplain at Texas Tech University through the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

HPU alumnus named 2016 Class 6A Assistant Coach of the Year

mark nickolsBROWNWOOD – May 24, 2016 – Howard Payne University alumnus Mark Nickols was recently named the 2016 Class 6A Assistant Coach of the Year by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches. He serves as assistant basketball coach at San Angelo’s Central High School.

According to the San Angelo ISD website, Nickols helped his team reach the playoffs for the second straight year this season. They finished the season with a record of 21-12. He will be recognized this month at the annual convention of the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches.

“At HPU, I really appreciated the small classes and professors who truly cared about my success,” said Nickols.

Nickols said it was Coach Troy Drummond’s friendship with San Angelo’s Coach Jaime Boswell that led him to begin his career at Central High School.

Drummond serves as head men’s basketball coach, head golf coach and associate athletic director for operations at HPU.

“I am very proud of Mark for taking an opportunity and making the most of it,” said Drummond. “When Coach Boswell got the job at San Angelo Central and was talking to me about his assistant position I really thought that Mark would be a great fit. Mark is an exceptional young man with a great work ethic. I’m so very happy for him and his family and wish him all the best.”

A 2010 HPU graduate, Nickols is the son of John and Barbara Nickols of Brownwood. John Nickols serves at HPU as assistant professor of history and political science and special assistant to the athletic director.

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Cutline: HPU alumnus Mark Nickols was recently named the 2016 Class 6A Assistant Coach of the Year by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches. Photo courtesy of San Angelo ISD.

HPU alumna named All-Big Country Coach of the Year

Heather Hohertz and teamBROWNWOOD – May 4, 2016 – Heather Hohertz, 2007 Howard Payne University graduate, said she credits her HPU professors and coaches in guiding her to be her best. Hohertz, who serves as head basketball coach and assistant softball coach at Brownwood High School, was recently named the All-Big Country Coach of the Year for Classes 4A-6A by the Abilene Reporter-News. She additionally won the award in 2010.

“By playing under Coach K (Chris Kielsmeier, former HPU basketball coach), I learned how to dedicate myself toward my passion and I learned the work ethic to become successful on the court and in life,” she said.

Hohertz grew up in Priddy and during her senior year of high school was a member of the team that won the first-ever state championship for the small community.

“When I was searching for a college to continue my playing career, Howard Payne was an easy choice,” she said. “Coach Kielsmeier recruited me and I knew I had to become a member of the Lady Jacket family.”

Today, Meia Daniels, a former teammate of Hohertz, serves as head women’s basketball coach for the university.

“Heather is very deserving of the award,” said Daniels. “She works hard and is very competitive, which she relays through her team. I am very proud of her and I know she will continue to do great things in the future.”

During seven years at Brownwood High School, Hohertz has led her team to many victories and has a win-loss record of 147-74.

“This year, we matched our best record in the school’s history,” she said. “We were 25-8 and made the school’s first-ever trip to the regional tournament.”

Hohertz said it’s a great honor to be named the All-Big Country Coach of the Year because there are so many great coaches in the area.

“It’s a tribute to the great kids I have had the opportunity to coach,” she said. “They bought into my philosophy and they strive to be successful.”

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Cutline: HPU alumna Heather Hohertz, kneeling, was recently named the All-Big Country Coach of the Year for Classes 4A-6A by the Abilene Reporter-News. She is pictured with members of her Lady Lions basketball team. Photo contributed.

TSHOF inductee Ken Gray reflects on life at HPU, in the NFL and beyond

By Abram Choate, assistant athletic director for sports information and game administration

A version of this article originally appeared in HPU’s Link magazine.

BROWNWOOD – March 31, 2016 – Recent Texas Sports Hall of Fame inductee Ken Gray had great success on the football field for Howard Payne University and the National Football League, but he says what he went through at Howard Payne really made him who he is.

Grays at exhibitGray and seven others comprised the Class of 2016 inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame on February 2. The Waco institution houses displays of more than 300 Texas sports legends.

“It’s one thing to make all-district, all-conference, all-pro or all-anything,” says Gray. “But to receive recognition from your peers – to be inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame – it’s icing on the cake.”

Gray says he’s very sincere in being appreciative of everything Howard Payne has meant in his life.

“I know how indebted I am to Howard Payne for the university’s share of the recognition,” he says.

Grays with HPU representativesBorn in San Saba County to a father who was a heavy-equipment operator during World War II, the Gray family moved around central and west Texas before finally settling in the Llano area. There, Gray became an outstanding high school player.

At a basketball practice during his senior year, 1954, Gray was introduced to Jack Brewer, who was an assistant football coach at HPU. Coach Brewer asked if Gray liked to play football and if he would like to play at Howard Payne.

“‘Yes, sir, I sure would,’” Gray remembers replying. “‘Do you understand I am married and have a child?’”

Not only did Brewer understand, HPU had an opportunity for a job for Gray and a home for the young family.

In the fall of 1954, Gray played his first game as a Yellow Jacket. Howard Payne was handily beating the other team and Gray was put in on defense. Coach Brewer did not like the way he was lining up and asked him what he was doing.

“I guess he thought I was being lazy,” Gray says. “It broke my heart. I thought I would just get on the bus and go back to Llano.”

Coach Brewer then came over to the bench and put his arm around Gray.

Gray at HPU“He said, ‘Ken, I’m sorry. It will never happen again,’” Gray recalls. “From then on, I would die for him. That was my introduction to Howard Payne football.

“Coach Brewer was a great, great man. He got the most out of everybody, he was fair and he made men out of a lot of us. I still tear up when I think about him.”

The Howard Payne coaching staff made practices very tough. At that time, the team included several veterans of the Korean War.

“So when an 18-year-old went against a 25-, 26- or even a 29-year-old, you had to battle,” he says. “The things I went through at Howard Payne really made me who I am.”

As a husband and father at HPU, Gray did not have time for much beyond family, football and work. However, he found support among the team’s other married players.

“There were other players who were married with families, so there were others going through the same things,” he says. “All the older guys kind of put an arm around you to take care of you and teach you. Jack Browning and Joe James were older players. Harold Garms was a former service guy.”

Gray graduated from Howard Payne in 1958 with a degree in history and education. He finished Howard Payne as a four-year letterman (1954-1957), where he was All-Lone Star Conference and named to the Little All-American team.

He went on to be drafted in the sixth round (as the 62nd overall pick) of the NFL draft by the Green Bay Packers in 1958 before earning a spot with the Chicago Cardinals. The team eventually moved to St. Louis.

Gray is one of 17 players in Howard Payne history to be drafted into the NFL and one of approximately 30 Yellow Jackets to have played in the NFL or Canadian Football League.

“When I went from Howard Payne to Green Bay, I really could not believe it. This is pro football,” he says.

However, after his experiences playing at Howard Payne, he was prepared.

“The practices were not really that hard. I found making that jump was really easy.”

In an NFL career that spanned 13 seasons, Gray was named an NFL Pro Bowl guard for the St. Louis Cardinals seven times. He would be named consensus All-Pro six times (1963, 1965-1969) and was honored as a First-Team selection twice during that time. He finished his professional career as a Houston Oiler in 1970.

Gray returned to Llano High School as head football coach from 1973 to 1975.

“That turned out to be the most fun I ever had,” he says. “I got to coach my son who turned out to be an All-State player.”

He then spent the 1977-1978 seasons as the Denver Broncos’ offensive line coach. Since then, Gray has become a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and Howard Payne University Sports Halls of Fame.

Gray now lives in Kingsland, Texas, with Shirley, his wife of 62 years. He has fond recollections of his days as a student-athlete at HPU.

“The memories are not so much of what happened on the field but the relationships I had with all the players,” he says. “Howard Payne is the kind of place where you can get a good education along with a dose of character building.”

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Photo cutlines: Ken and Shirley Gray stand in front of Ken’s display at the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in Waco.

The Grays are pictured with HPU representatives following Ken’s induction into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame. Left to right: Abram Choate, HPU’s assistant athletic director for sports information and game administration; Ken Gray; Shirley Gray; and Stephen Sullivan, HPU’s director of development and alumni relations.

Ken Gray is pictured as a football player at HPU.

HPU names Coach Hunter Sims university’s athletic director

Hunter SimsBROWNWOOD – March 29, 2016 – Howard Payne University announced today that Hunter Sims, head football coach, has been named athletic director for the university. Sims will serve a dual role as coach and athletic director beginning in fall 2016 and will report to Dr. Magen Bunyard, vice president for student life and dean of students.

Sims was named head football coach at the end of the fall 2015 semester. He additionally served three years as an assistant at HPU before being promoted to offensive coordinator and assistant head coach in 2012.

Sims’ offenses have been some of the best in the American Southwest Conference, setting a new HPU record for total offense in a game last season with 720 yards in a 54-53 road victory. He has coached current HPU career record-holder for field goals Joshua Martinez and wide receiver standout Colby Mica, who recently broke the HPU career receptions record.

Sims is a 2007 graduate of McMurry University with a degree in education and a minor in history. In 2010, he finished a master’s degree in sports management. As a player, Sims was a three-year letterman and two-time Academic All-Conference selection at quarterback at McMurry. After his college playing career was over, he served as a student assistant working with wide receivers and quarterbacks.

During his tenure at HPU, Sims has served as president of the Staff Council as well as on the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) Leadership Board. He has worked football camps around the state and spent extensive time working with the FCA as a camp counselor. He and his wife, Shannon, have two children, Sage and Finn.

Dr. Bill Ellis, HPU president, said Sims’ dedication to his sport is admirable but not to be compared with his devotion to God and his commitment to the students he coaches.

“Coach Sims’ priority is not just to win games, but to be a godly example in the lives of the young men he coaches,” said Dr. Ellis. “For this reason and many more, I am confident that he will do fantastic work as HPU’s next athletic director.”

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Photo cutline: Hunter Sims, head football coach at HPU, has been named the university’s next athletic director.

Sims to be head coach at end of semester

By HPU Sports Information

BROWNWOOD, Texas – The Howard Payne University athletic department today announced that current assistant head coach Hunter Sims will take over as head football coach at the end of the semester.

Following the recent announcement that Howard Payne head football coach Roger Geise would be retiring at the end on the semester, the university made it clear today that it already had the new head coach in Hunter Sims.

“I am very excited for Hunter,” said Mike Jones, director of athletics. “I know he will do a great job and he is a perfect fit for Howard Payne and the football program.”

Sims spent three years as an assistant at Howard Payne before being promoted to offensive coordinator and assistant head coach in the spring of 2012. His first two years with HPU, he was the wide receivers coach and then worked as defensive backs coach and recruiting coordinator in his third season.

“Hunter Sims is a man of great character, wisdom and energy,” said Dr. Bill Ellis, HPU president. “Since I came to Howard Payne, I have been impressed with his commitment to our football players and to the program, and I am confident that in his new role, Coach Sims will advance HPU football and bring honor to our university.”

Sims’ offenses have been some of the best in the American Southwest Conference, setting a new Howard Payne record for total offense in a game last season at East Texas Baptist with 720 yards in a 54-53 road victory. He has coached current HPU career record holder for field goals Joshua Martinez and wide receiver standout Colby Mica, who is on pace to break the HPU career receptions record.

Sims worked as a graduate assistant wide receivers coach with Angelo State University before coming to HPU. Also during that time, he helped coach defensive backs for the professional arena football team San Angelo Stampede of the IFL (Intense Football League).

As a player, Sims was a three-year letterman and two-time Academic All-Conference selection at quarterback at McMurry University in Abilene, Texas. After his college playing career was over, he served as a student assistant at McMurry University working with wide receivers and quarterbacks.

He went on to play quarterback in the GFL (German Football League) for the Professional Schwabisch Hall Unicorns. He also played one season with the San Angelo Stampede and Frisco Thunder of the IFL.

While in Germany playing professional football, he was also the head baseball coach of the Schwabisch Renegades Baseball team (Men’s team 18 and up). Sims led them to the Landesliga Championship and was named Coach of the Year. Sims has worked football camps around the state and spent extensive time working with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes as a camp counselor.

Sims is a 2007 graduate of McMurry University with a degree in Education and a minor in History and in 2010 he finished a master’s degree in Sports Management. He was married in the summer of 2011 to his wife, Shannon.

HPU head football coach Roger Geise to retire at semester’s end

BROWNWOOD – October 8, 2015 – Howard Payne University’s Roger Geise announced recently that he will be retiring at the end of the fall semester after four seasons as Yellow Jacket head football coach and 11 seasons total with the university.

Mike Jones, athletic director, said it has been a pleasure to work with Geise.

“I appreciate all that he has done for HPU and our football program,” Jones said. “He is a great friend and I wish him the best in his retirement.”

In Geise’s first three seasons as head coach of the Yellow Jackets, he was 9-21 overall with back-to-back 4-6 records in 2013 and 2014.

“I am very blessed to have had the opportunity to work at Howard Payne over the past 11 seasons and will greatly miss all the student-athletes and co-workers that have become my friends and family over the years,” said Geise. “I am thankful for the opportunity that Dr. Bill Ellis (HPU president) and Mike Jones gave me and wish HPU a bright and blessed future.”

Geise joined the HPU coaching staff in 2005 as the defensive line coach. He then served as the Yellow Jacket defensive coordinator from the 2008 season until the end of the 2011 season. Geise’s 2005 defensive unit set an American Southwest Conference record for interceptions in a season, with 29.

Geise, who has more than 35 years of coaching experience, began his career in his native state of Pennsylvania in 1970. He joined the Louisiana State University staff in 1974 as a graduate assistant and served there for three years.

Geise entered the high school coaching ranks in Texas in 1977 through which he coached for more than 25 years.

In 2005, Geise was inducted into the Romanoski Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame. Roger and his wife, Sandra, live in the Mercury area where they have a ranching operation.

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Photo cutline: Roger Geise, HPU head football coach, will retire at the end of the fall semester.