Carthage High School honored four former athletes on Friday, inducting Charles Holmes, Sharon Langley Rivard, Ben Thomas and Winston Whiddon into the Athletic Hall of Honor in a special ceremony in front of friends and family.
The quartet joins a short list of honorees who made a lasting impact on the CHS athletic program.
“This is a place, as you all know, with unbelievable support from our student body, for our community for our programs, and athletics is a huge part of that,” Superintendent Jarrod Bitter said. “That stuff does not happen by accident. It’s built on the backs of a hard work, the grit and perseverance, the commitment of the people that have come through these halls before us. And those are the people that are sitting here in front of you today.”
Sharon Langley Rivard is a graduate of the Class of 1970. During her high school career, she was a three-year letterman in basketball; team captain in 1969 and 1970; was an all-district player in 1969 and 1970; earned several tournament awards; was voted the Most Valuable Player in 1970; and for two of her three years, played in the Class 3A Final Four — her senior year, she was one game short.
Rivard held the record for the most points scored in one season — 936 points in 33 games — until 1978. She holds an 18-year record for most points scored in varsity play at 2,078 points, as well as most offensive rebounds in one season with 145 rebounds. She is a member of the 500 Point Club, and No. 2 for most points in a season with 936. In her time on the basketball team, the varsity girls won 91 of 106 games played.
Former Girls Basketball Coach Sandra Walker, in nominating Rivard, said “Sharon would be the first to say these records were because of great team effort. No player can achieve this level of play without great teammates who have also given their very best, and our outstanding basketball players.”
Ben Thomas is described as “one of the most outstanding all-around athletes that came out of Carthage High School during the 1960s.” He lettered in football and basketball his sophomore, junior and senior years, and was first team all-district in football and basketball his junior and senior years. He was also MVP in both sports as a senior and honorable mention all-state for the defensive end position.
As a track athlete, Thomas lettered his sophomore and junior years. He was a member of the district champion mile relay team and district champion 800-meter run. He competed on the sprint medley team in Austin, finishing third at the annual Texas Relays. He was voted class favorite in 1968.
After graduation, Thomas signed to play football at North Texas State University in Denton. He earned a bachelor’s degree and would go on to coach for Elysian Fields High School for several years, helping led the school to a district championship in football and basketball. He would later work for Texas Utilities at the Martin Creek Power Plant, working his way up to plant supervisor. He retired after 35-plus years.
Winston Whiddon is a Class of 1973 graduate who, while at school, took part in FFA, basketball and baseball. He was an avid baseball player and would go on to play the sport at Panola College and for two seasons at Texas A&M University. After earning his degree, Whiddon returned to Carthage High School and served as the inaugural softball coach in 1995, where he won 172 games, as well as serving as volleyball coach. As the Carthage softball coach, he led the team to 10 playoff appearances, the area playoffs in 2002 and the regional finals in 2003.
He was also honored numerous times for his teaching. In 2006, Whiddon left teaching and for a few years to work in the private sector. But he returned to Beckville High School in 2013, leading the Ladycats softball team to the school’s first state tournament appearance. He was named East Texas Coach of the Year. In nine seasons at Beckville, his team advanced to the playoffs each year, and in 2020 he recorded his 300th win. He retired in 2021.
The late Charles Holmes is a graduate of the Class of 1948 and a noted track athlete. Holmes went on to become an educator for more than 30 years, and served on several Panola County boards and with several clubs, including the Panola County Appraisal District, the Carthage Noon Lions Clubs, and Community Healthcore. He was given the Citizen of the Year award and a key to the city in 2013.