Five former Wharton County Junior College athletes were recently inducted into the WCJC Athletic Hall of Fame. From left are Roberta Lima, volleyball, class of 1996; Doug Duncan, rodeo, class of 2009; Hank Allen, basketball, class of 1959; Mike Booker, golf, class of 1975; and Cade Goodman, rodeo, class of 2015.
WHARTON, TEXAS – Moving from an international city of millions to a small Texas town in order to play volleyball may sound like a risky move, but to Roberta Lima, it was a decision that literally changed her life.
“It was a big journey, it was a big challenge,” said Lima, a Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, native who played volleyball for WCJC in the mid-1990s. “I had a really good time here at WCJC. This is where everything started.”
Lima and four other former WCJC athletes were recently inducted into WCJC’s Athletic Hall of Fame during a ceremony held in the Pioneer Student Center on the Wharton campus. Each inductee was recognized and received a plaque, a medallion, and permanent recognition on a display located in the Gene Bahnsen Gymnasium. Lima flew with her family from Brazil to be on hand for the special event.
A committee comprised of faculty members and athletic department staff selected this year’s recipients. WCJC Athletic Director Keith Case said it was difficult to narrow the list down to only five.
“They were successful in the arena and on the court, but they were really successful later in life,” he noted.
Like Lima, fellow Hall of Fame inductee Mike Booker traveled a long way to play for WCJC. A Downey, Calif. native, Booker was recruited to play golf for the Pioneers in the early 1970s. It was a prime example of culture shock – but of the best kind.
“Coming to Wharton showed me the beauty of small-town living,” Booker said. “The people here were not only friendly but authentic. WCJC was a foundation for my life.”
Inductee Hank Allen didn’t have quite so far to travel. A Glen Flora native, Allen played basketball for the Pioneers from 1957 to 1959, playing under legendary WCJC Coach Johnnie Frankie.
“I’m happy to be receiving this Hall of Fame award from WCJC,” Allen said. “It was a great pleasure going here.”
Two former members of the WCJC Rodeo Team were also named to the 2023 Athletic Hall of Fame. Cade Goodman was a steer wrestler for WCJC in 2014-2015, and Doug Duncan rode bulls for the Pioneers in 2008-2009. Both cowboys excelled in their chosen event, earning spots at the College National Finals Rodeo before embarking on professional rodeo careers.
“The years that I had here (at WCJC) were great,” Goodman said. “It was an honor and a blessing.”
Duncan was similarly impacted by his time at WCJC, though he stressed that fulfillment in life is ultimately about something more than personal achievement.
“I got my happiness off accolades, but looking back, what got me out of that was understanding that happiness comes from service to others,” Duncan said.
Named to the 2023 Athletic Hall of Fame were:
The WCJC Athletic Hall of Fame was created in 2021 to recognize outstanding former WCJC athletes and friends of the college. Each recipient receives a plaque, a medallion, and recognition in a permanent display located in the hallway outside the Gene Bahnsen Gymnasium on the Wharton campus. As of 2023, there have been 25 inductees.