Seven prominent sports figures from San Antonio ISD’s will be inducted into the fourth annual SAISD Athletic Hall of Fame during a special ceremony to be held in their honor on Aug. 25. Master of ceremonies will be Gary DeLaune, a legendary TV and Radio newsman whose career spans nearly 60 years in broadcasting.
Following their induction, bronze plaques commemorating the honorees will be on permanent display at the east visitor’s entrance of Alamo Stadium.
The honorees are:
Fennis Dembo – an All-State basketball player at Fox Tech HS. This 1984 graduate starred at point guard. Dembo helped lead his high school team to the UIL state semi-finals in 1984. He played college basketball at the University of Wyoming. He rose to stardom, becoming the Cowboys all-time leading scorer and rebounder in school history. He accumulated 2,311 points and 954 rebounds in four years at Wyoming. He helped lead the team to the Sweet Sixteen of the 1987 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament. At the 1987 NCAA Tournament, Dembo was the leading scorer averaging 27.8 points a game. He was drafted into the National Basketball Association and helped the Detroit Pistons win the 1989 NBA championship.
Tai Dillard – a 1999 Sam Houston HS alum who was an All-State and All-City basketball player. She was a star shooting guard and helped lead Sam Houston to back-to-back UIL state basketball championship tournament appearances in 1998 and 1999. She played college basketball for four seasons at the University of Texas at Austin (1999-2003). She was a two-time Big 12 All-Academic honoree and she was named to the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll five times. Dillard went on to play in the inaugural season for the San Antonio Silver Stars of the Women’s National Basketball Association in 2003. She played for the Silver Stars from 2003-2005. After her playing career ended, she became a high school and college women’s basketball coach.
Dolores “Delo” Dyer – regarded as a pioneer in high school girls athletics. She coached volleyball for 16 seasons at Jefferson HS and built a winning dynasty for the Mustangs. Dyer became the first-ever volleyball coach for Jefferson in 1972 when the UIL officially recognized volleyball as a championship sport. In her coaching career, she amassed an incredible 410-80 overall record for a winning percentage of .837, the winningest percentage for volleyball in San Antonio history. Dyer guided the Lady Mustangs to nine straight league championships. In 1979, she led her Mustangs to the UIL state championship finals against Cypress Creek HS. Jefferson won an amazing 92 straight district matches between 1978-1984 under Dyer.
Darryl Baris Grant – a star offensive and defensive lineman for the Highlands HS football team. The 1977 graduate played college football at Rice University. In 1981, he was drafted by the Washington Redskins in the National Football League. Grant helped the Redskins make the playoffs six times, including three trips to the Super Bowl (two wins) and four conference championship appearances (three wins). He is best remembered for his 1983 NFC Championship game against the Dallas Cowboys, where he intercepted a pass for a 10-yard touchdown. Grant played in 141 games for the Redskins from 1981-1990, finishing with 27 sacks and two interceptions. His best season was in 1984 when he recorded a career-high eight sacks.
Clifford Johnson – a 1966 graduate of Wheatley High School and a standout athlete in baseball, football, basketball and track. He was the star catcher for the Wheatley Lions in his senior year. In 1966, he was drafted into professional baseball by the Houston Astros. After six seasons in the minor leagues, he made his major league debut for the Astros in 1972. He played catcher, first base and outfield in the early part of his professional career before becoming primarily a full-time designated hitter. Johnson played a total of 15 years and for seven different teams in Major League Baseball. Two of those seasons, he helped the New York Yankees win back-to-back World Series championships in 1977 and 1978.
David Vela – a 1979 Burbank HS alum, who was an All-City football player and was named to the 1970’s All-Decade high school football team by the San Antonio Express-News. He helped lead his Burbank Bulldogs to the school’s only undefeated regular season at 10-0 in 1978. He was a Little All-American football player at Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos, now called Texas State University. He set a school record in most receiving yards and touchdown receptions in 1981, a record that stood until 2008. With Vela, the Bobcats won two National Division II Football Championships in 1981 and 1982. He played professional football for the Oakland Raiders (National Football League) and San Antonio Gunslingers (United States Football League) from 1983-1986.
Julius Whittier – a 1969 Highlands HS graduate who was a star football player and team captain. He made an historical impact by becoming the first African American to ever letter in football at the University of Texas at Austin. He played offensive tackle and tight end for the Longhorns. He helped the team win three Southwest Conference championships (1970, 1971 and 1972) and one National Division I Championship in 1970. Following college graduation, he earned a graduate degree at the LBJ School of Public Affairs in 1976 and completed a law degree.
About the SAISD Athletic Hall of Fame
Each year, the SAISD Athletic Hall of Fame honors alumni who have made a positive impact in sports, either through excellent athletic achievements or excellent athletic program contributions. In addition to outstanding athleticism, inductees were chosen for their distinction and excellence to the District by their conduct both on and off the field, or court, of competition.
Nominations for the class of 2018 were received this past year and selection was made by a committee. The SAISD Athletic Hall of Fame is sponsored by the SAISD Athletic Department and receives support from the SAISD Foundation. For more information, go here: www.saisd.net/athletichalloffame2018.
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Athletes of the Year
Three time tennis Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka and 4-time NBA Champion LeBron James were named AP’s 2020 athletes of the year. They were recognized for their efforts and accomplishments on and off the court. Both athletes have been very outspoken on issues regarding injustices like police brutality and racism following the deaths of several Black Americans during encounters with police this year. Congratulations on the victory! Keep speaking!
Jackson State Football Team On Probation
Deion Sanders is the NHCIC (New Head Coach In Charge) at Jackson State University; however, he’s going to have to work through some drama that took place before his being named the team’ new coach.
Last week the NCAA reported that the Jackson State football team had violated NCAA Certification and recruiting rules (between 2014-2018) according to an agreement released by the Division 1 Committee on Infractions and the team was placed on two year’s probation also resulting in a fine of $5,000, a recruiting ban and other penalties. The university and the NCAA enforcement staff agreed that 34 student-athletes had practiced and competed before receiving final certification from the NCAA Eligibility Center. The university also acknowledged and agreed that it failed to monitor its certification process.
For more on the developed story visit www.ncaa.org.
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