It is an honor to have something named after you. It becomes part of your historical legacy for those that follow. More important though, it gives all of us a reminder in the present to recall the who and why we have a particular place in our lives.
Fort Bend ISD has some wonderful athletic facilities that provide us places to meet, compete, and celebrate life’s events. There are some great inspirations from Fort Bend’s past whose names have been given to these facilities to remind us of what can be done. Here is a bit of information about the people behind the names of Fort Bend ISD’s athletic facilities.
This was the first stadium built for the Fort Bend District and was completed in 1977. The stadium was named for Edward Mercer, who served as superintendent of the Sugar Land School District before consolidation with the Missouri City School District in 1959 to create the Fort Bend Independent School District. Mercer was named Fort Bend ISD’s assistant superintendent and later stepped into the role of superintendent upon the death of the district’s first superintendent. Mercer served as Fort Bend ISD’s superintendent until his retirement in August 1974.
Wheeler Field House
This is the companion field house with Mercer Stadium on Lexington Boulevard and was completed in 1978. The Field House was named to honor Dr. Leslie A. Wheeler who moved to Sugar Land in 1939 to practice dentistry. He was a member of the Sugar Land Independent School District Board of Education and was instrumental in the efforts to consolidate Sugar Land and Missouri City School Districts by election in April 1959. He was one of the Sugar Land Board Members designated to serve on the Fort Bend ISD Board of Education and served as president until April 1965. He also served as an announcer for the school district’s varsity football games and was known in Fort Bend County as an authority on organic produce.
A fine baseball field completed for the District in September 1978 next to Mercer Stadium. Named for Johnnie Frankie, a long-time resident of Missouri City. Johnnie Frankie received a Bachelor’s degree from Rice University and a Masters degree from the University of Houston. An avid supporter of high school athletic programs, Frankie was devoted to young people and helped many further their education through athletics. Johnnie spent four years coaching football and basketball in Houston area high schools then moved to Texas A & M University, where he worked three years as an assistant football and basketball coach. He then moved to Wharton County Junior College as athletic director and head coach. After 10 years at Wharton, Frankie moved to Rice University as head basketball coach where he remained until his death in 1963.
This is the newest of the two stadiums built for Fort Bend ISD. Opened in the Fall of 2004, the stadium is named in honor of Kenneth Hall, a legendary football star at Sugar Land High School in the 1950s. Known as the “Sugar Land Express”, Kenneth Hall holds more rushing records than any other high school running back in the history of Texas high school football. A 1954 graduate of Sugar Land High School, Hall set more than 15 state and/or national records during his Sugar Land career. Hall is such a sports legend that the prestigious National Player of the Year for High School football was named the Hall Trophy.
Hopson Field House
This is the companion Field House to Hall Stadium on Hurricane Lane. It was named in honor of Lewis ‘Buddy’ Hopson and opened in the Fall of 2004. Hopson joined Fort Bend ISD in 1963 as a teacher and assistant coach at Dulles High School. He became Head Coach and Athletic Director in 1969 and the District’s first full-time Athletic Director in 1972. He helped plan the District’s first athletic facility (Mercer Stadium, Wheeler Field House and Frankie Field). Hopson was instrumental in adding girls basketball and softball, and boys and girls gymnastics, swimming, and soccer to the athletic program. Hopson influenced many young athletes through his service to the District and worked diligently to help students earn college scholarships to further their educations. He retired in 1992 after 30 years of service to the Fort Bend ISD. In 1996, he was inducted into the Texas High School Athletic Directors Hall of Honor.