They first came to St. Thomas with little more than a name and have since spent their lives forming reputations for relentlessness to their purpose and cause.

Unwavering commitment. Ironclad confidence. Undisputed excellence.

They gathered for one April night at 4500 Memorial Drive, not to merely re-live musty recollections and yellowed page exploits growing more distant by the year but brought back by a bond and a brotherhood.

All left St. Thomas but St. Thomas had never left them. And the reward for five luminaries was enshrinement into the institution’s prestigious Sports Hall of Fame.

Billy Jacobson ’97, Luke McConn ’97, Scott Muckelroy ’84, Vince Rachal ‘75, and state champion baseball coach Jim Connor summoned a visceral feeling and a portal to the past. A retreat to when the heavier the stakes, the more suffocating the pressure, the more magnificent they executed and triumphed. The Fab Five chased the dream and refused to be denied.

Billy Jacobson ’97
The 1997 valedictorian was a three-sport dynamo who received the 1997 Rev. Carl M. Allnoch, CSB Athletic Memorial Trophy for Excellence in Academics and the Rev. Albert R. Gaelens, CSB Award, given to the senior student who best embodies the school motto of Teach Me Goodness, Discipline, and Knowledge.

Jacobson was a three-time TCIL All-State baseball selection and All-State in basketball his junior year. He was ranked among the top 100 prospects by Baseball America in 1997. Jackson was team captain as a senior in both baseball and basketball while serving as student council president and a member of the National Honor Society. He accepted a scholarship to Stanford University where he was a key contributor for two College World Series teams including the 2000 runner-ups while earning his Bachelor of Arts in American Studies. He then studied at Rice University and concluded his stellar scholar-athlete career in 2001 for Hall of Fame coach Wayne Graham. Jacobson was selected by the Astros in the 2001 MLB Draft.

I thank the coaches who chose to invest in me, especially fellow inductee Jim Connor, and my teammates who inspired me on the field and the court. I will always be thankful for the opportunity at St. Thomas to establish an identity within a culture of excellence … for the combined emphasis on competitiveness and spiritual growth … that call to action to lead a virtuous life in athletics, in the classroom, and in life. Developing those virtues won’t guarantee enshrinement in a Hall of Fame but will prove indicative of a life well lived and a sincere effort to shine a light on Christ.

Luke McConn ‘97
Record-setting All-State performer for Eagle Wrestling as a junior and senior. McConn set school standard for all-time victories with 90, including 59 pins, another program best. He was the first Eagle wrestler in his 112-pound weight class to reach the state tournament final, earning the silver medal in 1997 while serving as team captain. He then competed as a freshman at Ohio University in the Mid-American Conference.

Since 2004, McConn has been an acclaimed assistant coach for Cinco Ranch High School alongside his head coach at St. Thomas, Bill Dushane. That tag-team leadership has produced nine district titles, one regional title, and two state titles. In 2007, McConn was named Texas assistant coach of the year, and the regional assistant of the year in 2018 and 2014.

Luke’s grandfather is Dr. Robert G. McConn ’42, a member of the prestigious St.Thomas Hall of Honor and 1997 recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award. He attended Rice University and Tulane University, earning his medical degree from the Baylor Medical School. McConn performed his medical residency at Hermann Hospital and a Fellowship in Cardiovascular Diseases at Jefferson Davis Hospital Cardiac Clinic, then practiced internal medicine in Houston for more than 40 years. During that time he co-founded the Medical Clinic of Houston and held memberships in the Alpha Omega Alpha Honorary Medical Society and the Texas Club of Internists. McConn also served as a medical officer in the United States Navy and Air Force.

I’m grateful to have benefited from a superior support system throughout my life. I’m now fortunate to have the opportunity to participate in the journeys of student-athletes and help them chase their dreams. Coaching requires enormous time and commitment but I love what I do. But the work that wife Sara takes on often gets missed. Not by me. She is the rock of our family, carrying an enormous workload that enables me to do what I do. For that, I owe her a debt of gratitude that I’ll never be able to pay back in this lifetime.

Scott Muckelroy ’84
The two-time All-State performer was an emphatic contributor to the rich history of Eagle Track and Field. Muckelroy excelled his senior season capturing gold medals in the 110 and 300 yard high hurdles at the state championships after claiming silver in the 300 in 1983. He also contributed with fellow Hall of Fame member Remon Smith ‘84, Darryl Robinson ‘84, and Don Gray ‘84 to blitz the school record in the 4×400 relay mark in 3:20.64 which remains a school record.

Muckelroy continued his scholar-athlete career at Stephen F. Austin University. For more than a decade, he was an Olympic-caliber competitor for USA Bobsled at the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France, and 1994 in Lillehammer, Norway.

Muckelroy is an outstanding 15-year member of the St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School science faculty and coaching staff. He was recently diagnosed with brain cancer, his courageous faith-filled battle an inspiration to students and adults of all ages within his Catholic community.

During my time at St. Thomas, I learned how to persevere when times are tough, when there doesn’t appear to be anyone on your side, how to turn a negative into a positive. My 26-year teaching career is among the most fulfilling aspects of my life. I credit the St. Thomas coaches for inspiring me.

Vince Rachal ‘75
Dynamic three-sport performer and a 1974 All-American defensive back for Eagle Football after All-American honorable mention in 1973.

The ball-hawking, sledgehammer-hitting Rachal contributed as a sophomore to the Eagles’ 1973 state championship, the program’s third consecutive crown and fifth in six years.

Rachal continued his scholar-athlete career at Notre Dame, part of a recruiting class that served as the bedrock for the Irish 1977 national championship after defeating the no. 1 ranked Texas Longhorns and Heisman Trophy winner Earl Campbell in the Cotton Bowl.

Rachal’s Hall of Fame induction came during his recovery from a stroke and series of health issues.

It changed my life to a part of St. Thomas. I had a great athletic career and loved every minute of it. The experience convinced me to attend and graduate from Notre Dame. I greatly appreciate my family … didn’t know how strong a family I had until this year along with my former teammates at St. Thomas. There’s nothing better than being with people who you love and enjoy. I thank everyone for coming tonight.

Jim Connor
State championship head coach who mightily impacted Eagle Baseball for nearly two decades as one of the most acclaimed coaches in the history of Eagle Athletics.

In Connor’s third St. Thomas season, the Eagles captured the first of a mind-numbing eight straight TCIL state titles from 1989 to 1996. Connor then orchestrated a pair of TAPPS state titles.

In 2001, the Eagles staged a dramatic rally for two runs in the eighth inning to defeat St. Pius X 3-1 for the crown. And in a grand 2004 finale, Connor cemented his Eagle coaching legacy with a stunning 4-2 victory over heavily favored Central Catholic at Baylor Ballpark in Waco.

Amid the steady stream of titles and a 353-175 record with 17 playoff seasons, Connor developed more than 60 student-athletes who would continue their careers at the collegiate level. Among the notables:

  • fellow 2024 Hall of Fame inductee Jacobson
  • pitcher Steve Herce ‘99, a 2003 College World Series champion at Rice selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2003 MLB Draft
  • Sports Hall of Fame members Jeff McCurry ‘88, TCU and San Jacinto College before a five-year MLB pitching career, and Brandon Caraway ‘96, University of Houston All-American drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in 2000
  • catcher Adam Zornes ‘04, Rice and taken by the Cleveland Indians in the 2007 MLB Draft
  • pitcher Hank Williamson ‘04, St. Edward’s, Rice, and San Jacinto before drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in 2007

I was initially reticent to accept this honor. The truth is we often won state championships because student-athletes who will never be hall of farmers made plays that changed our fate. A catch, a base hit, a strikeout. The important thing always was not the individual but the team. Our players bought in to elevate their play and make us great together. We feared no one. It’s what made St. Thomas special. I’m flattered to be inducted but it would truly mean more to me to see the teams recognized. I’m here because of the student-athletes.

The honorees join an exclusive group renowned for lifelong excellence consistent with goodness, discipline, and knowledge.

The Class of 2022
David Apolskis ‘89, Nduka Odizor ‘77, Thomas J. Robinson ‘89, Larry Strelau ‘64, C. Tyrell Whisenton ‘94, and the 1965 Eagle Football TCIL state champions

The Class of 2019
David Benesh ‘66, Jerry Koch ‘67, Jack Laurenzo ‘68, André Mathews ‘85, J.J. Savarino ‘94, and the 1964 Eagle Football TCIL state champions

The Class of 2018
Jeff McCurry ‘88, Andrew Locke ‘03, Remon Smith ‘84, brothers Keavin ‘73 and Kelly McDonald ‘77, and Richard Kristinik ‘57

The Class of 2016
Brandon Caraway ‘96, John Fisher ‘74, Marcus (Marc) Jankowski ‘70, Roland Laurenzo ‘65, Del Leatherwood ‘73, Stephen Martin ‘67, Bill Sage ‘61, Tim Staples ‘54, Michael Young ‘66, Larry “Zinny” Zientek ‘66, and 1939 Eagle Football, the only undefeated state champions in school history.

The Class of 2015
Bernard “Nardy” DeGeorge Jr. ’63, Gary Martin ‘69, George Mehaffey ‘53, Mike Mulvihill ’56, Ted Nowak ‘70, Jerry Pizzitola ’60, Jimmy Raley ‘65, Bradley Smith ’88, Billy Welu ‘50, and Mark Yokubaitis ’70

The Class of 2014
Tommy Cones ’71, Bill Golibart ’48, Johnny (Tex) Young ’31, and Bill Dillon ’63

The Class of 2011
Bobby Fretz ‘43, Mike McConnell, and Rory Miggins ‘74

The Class of 2009
Greg Hall ‘69, Fr. Robert Lowrey, CSB; Robert Murski ‘69, Robert Paine ‘68, and Richard Quesada ‘56

The Class of 2007
Gus Christensen ‘48, Steven Hall ‘66, Michael Haywood ‘82, and John Madden ‘72

The Class of 2004
Coach Tom Driscoll, George Glauser ‘47, Frankie B. Mandola ‘65, Jim Michalek ‘77, Steve Oggero ‘54, and Joe Wellborn ‘62

The Class of 2003
Sammy Giammalva ‘57, Dave Marr ‘50, Fr. Robert Matzinger, CSB ‘47, John Sage ‘66, and Larry Stegent ‘66

The Class of 2002
Fr. Carl Allnoch ‘27, Dan Cook Jr. ‘43, coach Harold “Burr” Davis, John Finch ‘45, coach Joe McDonald, and Burke O’Rourke ‘45

The Class of 2001
Jackie Burke Jr. ‘40, Sam Campise ‘45, Fr. Msgr. Fred O’Connor ‘45, coach Jim Schwarzbach ‘55, and Fr. James Wilson, CSB

The raucous stories these championship brothers tell when they gather now, with their bodies and competitive edges softened, are the communal affinity for competitive athletics, a nostalgia that provides the nexus of such connections.

Eagle Fight Never Dies!