Rush Springs Public Schools Hall of Fame: Who Should be Next?

The Rush Springs Public Schools Hall of Fame was established in early 2022 and saw legendary Coach Joe Tunnell and standout athlete Jack Porter become inductees in the inaugural class.

As far as inaugural classes go, this one was a can’t miss group.

Coach Joe Tunnell was undoubtedly one of the greatest and most successful high school football coaches the state of Oklahoma has ever seen.

A head coach for 41 years between Rush Springs (27) and Lindsay (14), he accumulated a record of 322-137-7, a state record for wins at the time of his retirement. Tunnell was at the helm for both of Rush Springs’ football state championships, 1966 and 1998.

Simply put, “The General” is perhaps the most legendary figure in the history of our tiny town, and a no brainer for the school’s hall of fame.

The other no brainer, and the other half of the inaugural class would be Jack Porter.

Porter was a standout athlete, with nearly mythical tales about his levels of strength. He was part of the 1966 state championship team and would go on to play offensive line at the University of Oklahoma.

After his collegiate days were finished, Porter became the first and only athlete from Rush Springs to be drafted and play professionally. Porter was drafted by the New York Jets as the 187th overall pick in the eighth round of the 1970 NFL draft. The next season, he would see action with the San Diego Chargers.

Coach Tunnell and Jack Porter are both beyond worthy of the hall of fame. Without them, it would be illegitimate. That is how special both men have been for the school and town of Rush Springs.

Going forward, who should be considered next for the hall of fame? Who among our coaches, players, teachers, administrators, and community contributors are worthy of selection?

That is what this story intends to find out.

Based on a panel of nearly 20 voters that are more than qualified, we shall get a solid look of both public perception and opinion as to who should be under consideration. Here are the results:

#1 Phil Landrum, 13 votes

Coach Phil “Sonny” Landrum coached basketball for 45 years. During that time, he accumulated a record of 692-252. Landrum led teams to eight state tournament appearances during his career and won a state championship in 1986 with the Rush Springs Girls 6 on 6 basketball team.

Landrum racked up many awards and accolades over his illustrious coaching career. Many times, he was named coach of the year by local media outlets, even a nominee for coach of the year on the national level in 2002. However, even more impressive is the amount of hall of fames in which he is a member. Coach Landrum has been inducted into the Girls Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame, Oklahoma Coaches Association Hall of Fame, and Duncan Sports Hall of Fame, quite an accomplishment.

Despite all of those accolades, what he is most proud of is the Rush Springs basketball court being named in his honor. There is no doubt Landrum is one of the greatest and most accomplished coaches to ever man the sidelines for the Redskins.

#2 Barry Foster, 12 votes

My dad, Barry Foster, coached at Rush Springs for 25 years. He was the defensive coordinator for the 1998 state championship team that only allowed 89 total points throughout their undefeated season, a mere 5.9 points per game. His defensive mind was a major asset and contributed to the Redskins’ success under Coach Tunnell.

After taking over as head coach in 2005, my dad oversaw a highly successful three year run for the Redskins, going 35-4 with two district championships and reaching the quarterfinals each season. The Rush Springs football teams that Coach Foster was a part of were a whopping 208-86. Needless to say, it was a highly successful 25 years.  

Coach Barry Foster was an all-state football coach in 1999 and head coach of the Oil Bowl in 2008, an all-star game between Oklahoma and Texas. To cap off his great career, my dad was inducted into the Oklahoma Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2018. Perhaps the greatest accomplishment, and not one that can be quantified, was the positive impact he had on the lives of countless student athletes.

#3 Drew Beard, 9 votes

Simply put, Drew Beard was a winner. Making a case as the greatest athlete to come through Rush Springs, Beard was a multi-sport athlete and prolific starting quarterback, leading the way for the 1998 state championship. At the time of his graduation, he was the school’s all-time leader in career passing yards and touchdowns, earning an all-state selection.

For as great as he was in high school, he was equally if not more impressive in college. During his time with Southeastern Oklahoma State University from 2001-2004, Beard rewrote the school’s record books. According to Southeastern, at the time of his graduation, he held the single season records for most carries by a quarterback (171), rushing touchdowns for a quarterback (13), and passing touchdowns (25).

Along with his seasonal records, Beard broke several career markers as well. He held the individual career records for total offensive yardage (9,758), plays (1,314), rushing yards for a quarterback (2,381), rushing touchdowns (28), and passing touchdowns (65), according to Southeastern.

With the incredible statistics Beard produced, it was no surprise that he accumulated many honors and accolades. Twice during his career, he was named both a Division II All American and Harlon Hill finalist, incredible achievements. For those that are unaware, the Harlon Hill Trophy is awarded to the most valuable player in DII, their own equivalent of the Heisman. After his collegiate days were over, he continued to rack up honors, being named to the DII 40th Anniversary Team and was inducted into the Southeastern Oklahoma State Athletics Hall of Fame in 2014.

Drew Beard was a winner and leader of men. His name is etched in the history books and is firmly cemented as a legendary figure for Rush Springs, Southeastern, and Division II football.

#4 Tracy Bowden, 7 votes

Tracy Bowden was one of, if not the greatest, female athletes in the history of Rush Springs. Towering over her competition on the court, Bowden used her length and scoring acumen to lead the Lady Redskins to a 6 on 6 basketball state title in 1986.

You could easily argue Bowden’s prolific scoring ability was the best in school history. This notion is backed by her 3,152 career points, 21st on the state’s all-time 6 on 6 girls’ basketball scoring list. Many records for the school are difficult to confirm, but I believe you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who scored more than Tracy Bowden.

Upon her all-state selection and graduation in 1987, Bowden attended the University of Alabama, where she continued her career. During her four years with the Crimson Tide, she played meaningful minutes and even earned herself SEC Academic Honor Roll in three different seasons.

Based on her high school career, the success of her teams, the statistics she produced, and having played meaningful minutes at not just the Division I level but in the SEC, Bowden is one of the most accomplished athletes to come through the town of Rush Springs, regardless of gender or sport.

#5 (tied) Chipp Latham, 6 votes

As previously discussed, it is common to hear nearly mythical tales about Jack Porter’s strength. The same can be said about Chipp Latham’s speed. Known as one of the fastest athletes to come through Rush Springs, Latham excelled as a running back for the Redskins, earning an all-state selection in 1974.

Unsurprisingly, he was also an outstanding track and field athlete. Latham won several individual state championships. He won the 100-meter dash in both 1974 and 1975, running a 10.0 and 9.9, respectively. He was also a two-time state champion in the 200-meter dash, running a 22.4 in 1974 and 22.2 in 1975, a state record that lasted nearly a decade, according to The Oklahoman.

After he graduated in 1975, Latham joined the Oklahoma State University football team, where he converted to wide receiver. Playing four years with the Cowboys, Latham was part of the 1976 OSU squad that went 9-3 and won a share of the Big 8 title. Over the course of the following two seasons, he saw game action and pulled in multiple receptions.

Although Latham made the list as part of the top five leading vote recipients, it still feels as though he is underrated in the historical context of Rush Springs sports. In terms of the individual state championships, breaking state records, along with the football career he had both locally and at OSU, there is no questioning the amount of ability and talent that Latham possessed. For that, he will forever be remembered as one of the best athletes to come through Rush Springs.

#5 (tied) Lloyd Conover, 6 votes

Coach Lloyd Conover was yet another monumental coaching figure that once patrolled the sidelines for Rush Springs Schools. The namesake for our gymnasium, Conover coached for 35 seasons between Rush Springs, Loco, Bray, and Ringling. Over the course of his career, he accumulated 536 career victories, 49th most for girls basketball coaches in state history, according to

Like Sonny Landrum, Coach Conover is in no shortage of hall of fames. He is a member of the Oklahoma Girls Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, Oklahoma Coaches Association Hall of Fame, and the Bray Hall of Fame.

Admittedly, it has been difficult to find more information about Coach Conover, but one thing is for certain, those that knew him vouch for the man he was. Many say that he was a kind, gracious, Christian man that loved to help others. After coaching for 35 years in several different communities, I am sure he positively impacted the lives of many student athletes.

While these five were the leading vote recipients, there were a plethora of others who received votes as well. I believe this gives credence to the idea of Rush Springs Public Schools and its athletic programs having a strong, longstanding tradition.

Others receiving votes were as follows:

5 votes: Jimmy McAdoo.

3 votes: Tim Beard and Burl White.

2 votes: Rick Parrish, Jeanne Large, Jeremy Beard, Kara McKay, Lisa Landrum, Spencer Bernard, Joe Coyle, Christa Porter, and Bill Dryden.

1 vote: Trent Parrish, Joe Dorman, Richy Large, Tom and Maxine Cotham, Joe Leonard, Larry Faulkner, Todd Peterman, Kevin McElroy, Chris Hargus, Lloyd Latham, and Mike McElroy.

Alternatively, there was a section of the questionnaire that allowed voters to add an “honorable mention” if they wished to name more than five individuals.

The honorable mention vote tallies were as follows:

3 votes: Chipp Latham, Tim Beard, and Barry Foster.

2 votes: Phil Landrum, Joe Coyle, Rick Fitzpatrick, Brad White, and Gary Jones.

1 vote: Dustan McClenny, Rick Parrish, Trent Parrish, Jeremy Beard, Lloyd Latham, Bob Patterson, Brian Lloyd, Bill Dryden, Rodney Ball, Lisa Landrum, Jami McAdoo, Mary Ballard, Jamie Pendley, Marcia Dennis, Jimmy McAdoo, Terry Dryden, and myself.

To recap:

  •  30 different individuals received at least one “top five” vote.
  • Out of those 30, 23 were men and seven women.
  • If you include the honorable mention, 43 different individuals received votes.
  • Out of those 43, 32 were men and 11 women.
  • Coincidentally, all sports Rush Springs offers were included, with athletes and/or coaches receiving votes from football, boys’ and girls’ basketball, track and field, softball, and baseball.

Overall, I would say the results of the voting panel were fairly solid. Afterall, much of the debate is a matter of subjectivity.

However, there were a few surprises within the results. With respect, there were some that received votes that are debatably hall of fame worthy. Conversely, there were some with very few “top five” votes or only received honorable mention votes that undoubtedly deserve more respect. Ultimately, I believe it was good to conduct the research that includes anonymous, differing opinions, showing how rich Rush Springs’ tradition truly is.

While I must acknowledge the Rush Springs Public Schools Hall of Fame is not simply limited to athletics, there are wide array of candidates within the athletic department that are hall of fame worthy.

If I were to make a suggestion, I would say it is reasonable for athletes that all-state to become automatic qualifiers.

In football alone, we have Lindy Sherwood (1925), Joe Coyle (1966), Brad White (1969), Chipp Latham (1974), Todd Peterman (1988), Tim Beard (1989), Jeremy Beard (1998), Drew Beard (1999), Josh “Wally” Finch (2004), Dustan McClenny (2007), and Colt Beard (2014).

To the best of my knowledge, some of the all-staters from other sports would include but are not limited to, Stormi Smelley, Jamie Pendley, Megan Schneberger, Samantha Jackson, Natalie Fitzpatrick, Kaitlyn Fitzpatrick, Geyna Williams, Ryan Schneberger, Jami McAdoo, Lindsey Jones, and Jackie Adams in fast-pitch softball. Montana Fulton and Lauren Zalewski made all-state as slow-pitch players.

In track, Kara McKay, Dava Ballard, Todd Peterman, Kevin McElroy, Preston Jeffcoat, and Chipp Latham.

In basketball, Chris Filippo, Kara McKay, Chandler Nichols, Jordan Brooks, Christa Porter, Lisa Landrum, Jeanne Large, and Tracy Bowden. To the best of my knowledge, Trent Parrish is the lone boys’ basketball all-stater.

Now obviously, not every all-stater is created equal. There will certainly be varying levels of ability and worthiness. However, I believe it would work well as a general rule of thumb and give the committee an automatic selection each year for the foreseeable future.

To conclude, Rush Springs has exceptional history. I think most within the community believe that, but I am not sure if many quite understand the extent. The level and quality of athletes and coaches have been phenomenal throughout the decades, dating back nearly 100 years to our first all-stater.

Rush Springs, especially for a small community with a population hovering around 1,000, has been a talent rich area over the years. I hope when droughts in success and talent occur, we can look back on our history and aim to achieve those levels once again.


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