By Al Carter
Pasadena ISD Athletics Hall of Fame

The emergence of the Pasadena ISD as a softball powerhouse 30 years ago is reflected in the exploits of two of the eight individuals selected for induction next April in the Pasadena ISD Athletics Hall of Fame.

The slate of 2023 Hall of Famers includes Rhonda Foster, who coached Dobie to state softball championships in 1995 and 1997; and Charla Moore, a 1997 Sam Rayburn High graduate who pitched the Lady Texans through two state playoff runs -- one of which included a now legendary regional championship game against Foster’s Lady Longhorns.

Foster, who took on a variety of coaching assignments at Dobie, also played an important role in grooming another new inductee, 1995 Dobie graduate Scott Lengefeld. Foster coached Lengefeld, her first cousin, in cross country, a sport in which he qualified for the state meet in 1994 and 1995. Lengefeld went on to earn All-America honors at Texas A&M.

Other athletes chosen for induction are John Eddie Williams, Pasadena High, Class of 1972; Shane Nolen, Pasadena, Class of 1975; Steve Massey, Rayburn, Class of 1976; and Jeff Neal, South Houston High, Class of 1986.

The induction list also includes one of the most prominent names in the Pasadena community – Ben Meador, the chief executive officer of Meador Staffing Services and the founder of the highly successful McDonald’s Texas Invitational Basketball Tournament. Meador, a 1957 Pasadena graduate, will be inducted for “Meritorious Community Service.”

For the fourth time, the Hall of Fame committee will honor a Pasadena ISD team, this time the 1981 Dobie track squad that won the state title under Hall of Fame coach John Bryan.

The inductees will be honored at the Hall of Fame’s spring banquet, set for April 20, 2023. For the second year in a row, the event will be held at the Pasadena Convention Center.

 The latest inductions will represent a Hall of Fame reunion of two pairs of former high school teammates who went on to play together in college.

Nolen, whose contributions on the baseball diamond helped Pasadena High reach the state semifinals in 1974, will follow his former Eagles teammate, Fritz Connally, into the Hall of Fame. Both went on to play at Baylor, where they helped lead the Bears to the school’s first two College World Series berths.

Massey, a prized lineman and tight end for Sam Rayburn, later played alongside his Texans teammate, Hall of Famer Jimmy Johnson, at the University of Texas.

The two other football inductees took unusual routes to public prominence beyond their college playing days.

Neal played college ball at Howard Payne University and later turned his attention to powerlifting. After winning two world championships, he launched a public-speaking career for a Christian ministry organization that he founded.

Williams was a star lineman at Pasadena High in the early 1970s and a prized football recruit for Baylor. He gave up football to study law -- and now ranks as one of the most prominent trial attorneys in the country.

A closer look at the 2023 honorees:

1981 Dobie Boys Track Team

Six months after coaching the Longhorn cross country team to a state title, Bryan took his track squad to Austin and captured the state championship in dominating fashion. Dobie’s title remains just the second state track crown ever won by a Pasadena ISD school. (Pasadena claimed the championship in 1957.)

Five different Longhorns placed in the top four in their respective events at the state meet. Hall of Famer Gawain Guy, who had won the state cross country title the previous fall, led the Dobie contingent by winning the gold medal in the 1,600 meters. Paul Miller took silver in the pole vault. Lawrence Mitchell, in the 100 meters; Sammy Shimfessel, in the 800; and Greg Johnson, in the 3,200, all claimed fourth-place finishes.

John Eddie Williams, Pasadena, Class of 1972

After earning state-wide recognition as an Eagles lineman, Williams seemed to be on his way to a rewarding college football career. Then the law got in the way. Law school, that is.

A two-time all-district selection, he became a part of the first Baylor recruiting class assembled by Grant Teaff, who would go on to win more games than any football coach in school history. But after two years of opening holes for running backs, Williams said goodbye to football and fixed his gaze on the law.

Today, he’s one of the nation’s best-known litigators. In 1995, he brought a landmark case against Big Tobacco that resulted in a $17.3 billion settlement -- at that point, the nation’s largest legal settlement. Williams also ranks as one of his alma mater’s biggest benefactors. The playing field at the school’s new stadium is named in his honor.

Shane Nolen, Pasadena, Class of 1975

Nolen earned eight letters in three sports at Pasadena. Still, his performance in a 1974 baseball playoff against Milby is something veteran fans in the community still talk about. In an 11-inning, regional finals thriller, Nolen hurled a complete game, striking out 10.

Then, with the game still scoreless in the bottom of the 11th, the Eagles junior belted a game-winning home run. The victory helped propel Pasadena to the state tournament.

At Baylor, Nolen earned All-Southwest Conference honors as a freshman and junior. In 1977 and 1978, he teamed with Connally to help lead Baylor to the school's first two CWS berths.

Steve Massey, Rayburn, Class of 1976

Regarded as one of the Pasadena ISD’s most prized defensive line recruits, Massey went on to play in three bowl games for UT while helping the Longhorns maintain their reputation, earned throughout the 1960s and 1970s, as one of the best defensive teams in college football.

Massey shook off injuries early in his college career to earn three varsity letters. His playing breakthrough came in 1978, when he registered nine sacks for a team that walloped Maryland 42-0 in the Sun Bowl.  As a junior in 1979, he helped the Longhorns earn the nation’s No. 1 defensive ranking. Selected as one of four team captains his senior season, he recorded a career high for tackles.

Jeff Neal, South Houston, Class of 1986

Undersized and largely overlooked, Neal blossomed on the gridiron at Howard Payne, where he earned All-America honors and was later inducted into the school’s Sports Hall of Fame. He spent five seasons in pro football but found his niche in powerlifting. In 1993, while a member of the Houston Oilers practice squad, he was honored as the NFL’s “Strongest Man.”

In 1998 and 1999, Neal won consecutive World Powerlifting Championships. Then, in 2000, he established Team Impact Ministries, an evangelical organization providing inspirational speakers to churches and schools around the country and internationally.

Scott Lengefeld, Dobie, Class of 1995

Lengefeld left a championship imprint in three sports in high school -- and it’s hard to say which was more impressive. Twice he won the district country-country title and twice finished in the top 15 at the state meet. In track, he claimed district laurels in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs both his junior and senior years.

And in baseball he started at either shortstop or second base for three straight playoff-qualifying teams -- the last of which, in 1995, saw the Longhorns reach the regional finals.

  At A&M, Lengefeld emerged as one of the top three-sport runners in the Big 12. As a senior, he finished fourth at the conference cross-country meet and then 14th at the NCAA meet to earn All-America designation. In both indoor and outdoor track, he etched his name in the Aggie record book, winning Big 12 gold in the 10,000-meter indoor run as a senior. His school record in the outdoor 10,000 still stands.

Charla Moore, Rayburn, Class of 1997

A four-year letter-winner at Rayburn, Moore was named All-Greater Houston three times while posting a phenomenal career earned run average of 0.72. As a sophomore, she went head-to-head with Dobie ace Christa Williams, another Pasadena ISD Hall of Famer, in the regional semifinals. The Lady Longhorns, coached by Foster, won 1-0 in a 19-inning classic in which both Moore and Williams went the distance.

Moore (now Charla Crochet) went on to pitch four years at the University of Texas, where she remains one of the school’s career ERA leaders.

Rhonda Foster, Dobie Coach, 1983-2007

Foster’s versatility as a coach was matched only by her success. All told, she coached six different sports in her 25 years at Dobie -- four for girls and two for boys. In addition to her state softball titles in 1995 and 1997, she guided three boys teams and one girls team to state cross-country meets.

Two of her runners won state titles: Raz Bowman, who took the 800 meters in 1998, and Brian McKinstry, who claimed the cross-country title in 2001.

Still, softball provided Foster with a lasting legacy. With Williams on the mound, her 1995 team went 35-0. Two years later, she guided a team that had finished third in district to another state crown. She stands as the only coach in Pasadena ISD history to win two state titles in the same sport.

Meritorious Community Service -Ben Meador, Pasadena, Class of 1957

A three-sport athlete in high-school, Meador has never lost his fondness for sneakers and whistles. Long an icon in the Pasadena business community, Meador has built a record of support for Pasadena ISD activities, both academic and athletic, that few can rival. Foremost among his contributions is the McDonald’s Texas Invitational Basketball Tournament, which he founded in 1999.

The tournament, one of the largest pre-season basketball events in the nation, has brought in nearly $3 million since its inception, with most of the proceeds going to the Pasadena ISD Education Foundation. Meador served as tournament chairman from 2003 to 2015.

Meador, now semi-retired, maintains his position as chairman and CEO of Meador Staffing Services, which maintains offices in Clear Lake, Deer Park, Pearland, The Woodlands and a corporate office in Pasadena. He was recognized by the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce as Pasadena’s Citizen of the Year in 1991. In 2000, he was named a Distinguished Alumnus by the Pasadena ISD.