Three alumni from The University of Texas-Pan American will be among seven inductees into the Rio Grande Valley Sports Hall of Fame (RGV-SHOF) on June 30.
The 2012 RGV-SHOF Induction Ceremony, scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Pharr Events Center, will include former Broncs Pete Vela (football), Iris Iglesias (multiple sports) and Mike Brisky (golf).
Pete Vela: Scoring a TD in statewide athletic leadership
One of the most respected coaches and administrators in Valley annals, Vela was a two-time Rio Grande Valley Coach of the Year, who during his tenure served as state director of the Texas High School Athletic Directors Association and the Texas State High School Coaches Association.
Vela was an All-District football player at Edinburg High School and after graduating in 1965, attended then-Pan American University and earned a bachelor's degree in history in 1969. He then earned a master's degree in mid-management from Texas A&I in 1976. Vela was a head coach for nine years at Mercedes and McAllen Memorial high schools, winning two district titles for Mercedes. His career included 25 years in coaching and 15 years as an athletic director. He was inducted into the Texas Athletic Directors' Hall of Honor in July 2011.
Vela credits his mother, family and UTPA for his success, and considers it an honor to be following in the footsteps of his brother, and Valley high school football legend, the late Robert Vela.
"Being from a humble and poor family, our mother and my family pushed us to get an education. She's the one who really encouraged us all to go to college," Vela said. "Five years ago, my brother Robert was inducted a year after his death and I feel fortunate that I have been added to the same list of inductees to those from UTPA and that I will be inducted in the same hall of fame with my brother."
Iris Iglesias: Excelling as multi-sport champ and Valley coach
Iglesias said her selection into the RGV-SHOF left her at a loss for words.
"It's a very humbling recognition and I am definitely speechless now, especially when I got the news. It is a true and highest honor to be inducted along with these fine men and women," she said.
Iglesias has won more than 500 total games in three sports since the mid-1980s and is a three-time Valley Coach of the Year. As a member of the Mission High School Lady Eagles volleyball team, she helped lead the team to four straight playoff trips. Iglesias went on to play volleyball and fast pitch softball at Pan American University, where she majored in physical education and health, and graduated in 1980.
She introduced softball at Mission High School in 1995. By that time she had won 157 games in girls' basketball at the school from 1986-94. She took over the volleyball program and later the softball team at Mission High School. Iglesias has guided her softball teams to the playoffs 14 of 17 years, with eight bi-district crowns and an appearance in the regional semi-finals.
"I am truly blessed and fortunate for everyone who's been involved in my career at Mission, and at UTPA, and I am looking forward to this special evening," she said.
Mike Brisky: Starring in pro golf, now in the pulpit
Brisky said he is in awe of and humbled by the news that he will be inducted into the RGV-SHOF.
"It's somewhat of a surreal thing for me because when you start out in anything, you have dreams and aspirations and you never know when or how long they will play out or what's going to happen during the process," Brisky said. "I am really blessed and privileged to be honored in this way. To be a part of a hall of fame is like, 'really, me?'"
Before Brisky went on to earn more than $2 million on the PGA Tour for seven seasons and professionally for 15 years, he got his start on the Brownsville Hanna High School golf team. After graduating from high school in 1983, Brisky played golf at Pan American University, where his skills and talent helped him reach a 73 per round average by his junior season.
He earned a bachelor's degree in business administration in 1987 from Pan Am and soon thereafter became a professional golfer. Brisky's professional career began in 1993 when he earned PGA Tour privileges, and joined the Nike Tour where he won four tournaments in 1993 and 1994. He played in the PGA from 1994 to 2000 where he reached two playoffs, placing second at both the 1995 Buick Open and at the 1999 John Deere Classic. Brisky has served as associate pastor at Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas since 2003.
"I always appreciated the support and the encouragement I got from my home area, not only my hometown of Brownsville, but also the Valley and Pan Am," said Brisky. "It's important for young men and women coming out of the Valley to feel the support of the area as a whole, not just their hometown because that is where our roots are. With the support of my coach, family and friends I built on something I wanted to build on for my future. Pan Am was a foundation, a building block, for a future in professional golf for me."
The RGV-SHOF was established in 1985 to recognize and preserve sports history in the Valley. The non-profit organization honors local athletes, coaches and administrators who have brought honor and recognition to the Rio Grande Valley through their participation in sport, coaching, refereeing and the media.
The RGVS-HOF Museum collects, preserves and exhibits (online and in a planned future permanent physical home) memorabilia and statistical data of Valley sports for historical preservation, database collection, and strives to recognize deserving people who have brought recognition to the Valley through their contributions to sports.
The organization also funds scholastic achievement awards for deserving college-bound student-athletes from schools around the Valley.