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Honored in Belton

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Posted: Friday, November 12, 2010 12:00 pm | Updated: 9:19 am, Thu Aug 16, 2012.

By Colleen Flaherty

Harker Heights Herald

BELTON - Ten new faces joined the Belton High School Athletic Wall of Honor during an induction ceremony Sunday at the school's gym.

The student athletes, who achieved all-state recognition in sports from football to powerlifting, brought the wall's total to 103 faces.

New names are added each year, as current and recently graduated student athletes compete at the all-state level, and as past all-state athletes are discovered through research.

Six of the honorees were present to accept their plaques Sunday. Four were absent, three of whom have died. Family members accepted the honor for them.

For the Higginbotham clan, including Don, 59, of Belton, the ceremony was an opportunity to get to know a little more about their father, Olan Higginbotham.

Olan received all-state recognition in football in 1923, the first known Belton High School student to do so in that sport. He went on to play at Southwestern University and St. Mary's University.

He died before his four children were teenagers, and they never knew he was so successful in high school, Don said.

"I didn't have any idea," he said, adding that Olan may have been too modest to share that with his children. "He was that type."

For Olan's son Dean, 54, the event was also an opportunity to learn more about himself. "It's good to find out a little bit more about where you're from," he said, "to know where you're going."

The oldest living inductee among this year's crop was Ken Law, 62, who achieved all-state status in football during his senior year at Belton High School in 1965.

The drive up to Belton from Austin, where he now lives, brought back many fond memories, he said.

Belton High School is in his blood, he said, adding that both his father and his son played football at Belton.

His father, Wallace, was a lifelong Belton devotee and never missed a game. "I went to Belton games wearing diapers," Law joked.

Among recently graduated inductees, Taylor Pressley, 18, was perhaps the most unique. She was the first girl to join the wall for soccer. "It feels good because there have been so many girls to go on to play (in college)," said the St. Edwards University freshman.

Pressley played at the all-state level last year and now plays in college.

The Wall of Honor was the brainchild of 1958 all-state Belton basketball player Billy Wilbanks, 70, a retired attorney.

He moved back to Belton from Florida in 2001 to care for his mother, he said, and took on creating an all-state sports Wall of Honor at the high school to keep busy.

The endeavor has led to surprises, he said.

"I found out that in 1909 the track team had gone all-state," he said, motioning to the first plaques in the wall's long case.

"We're running out of room," he said, laughing. "I'm not sure what we're going to do."

Contact Colleen Flaherty at colleenf@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7559. Follow her on Twitter at KDHfeatures.

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