MARBLE FALLS — The presentations took longer than the vote.
The Marble Falls Independent School District board of trustees took less than 10 seconds to unanimously approve renaming the tennis facility at the high school the Charlie and Nancy Herrington Tennis Center during its regular board meeting April 21. The board didn’t discuss the motion.
“It is amazing to me,” Nancy Herrington said. “I can’t even talk about it too much. I told (former Marble Falls Elementary School coach) Denise Frazier several weeks ago I wished I had not been included to tag along with him. I’m so grateful and so appreciative to be included.”
Nancy’s husband, Charlie Herrington, died March 26. He was a local tennis coach who helped area youth grow not only as athletes, but as people.
Once board President Rick Edwards said the measure passed, the crowd broke into thunderous applause.
“I don’t know if it’s appropriate to do that,” said one of the presenters, Kimmy O’Connor Wilson, “but that’s what happened.”
The Herringtons have been associated with the Mustangs for more than 40 years as teachers and coaches, helping 23 players reach the state tournament with 10 becoming champions. Charlie Herrington was the tennis pro at Hidden Falls Country Club in Meadowlakes since 1975 until his death.
“That was our family here at Marble Falls,” Nancy Herrington said. “Nothing could make me prouder than having our last name on those courts. It’s a nice legacy.”
Wilson, Burnet County Precinct 4 Commissioner Joe Don Dockery and musician John Arthur Martinez were among the presenters at the school board meeting.
“Everyone was very grateful,” Dockery said.
Wilson is a two-time Class 3A state champion, who Herrington recruited off the Little League diamond.
At that time, she said, there wasn’t a girls league, so she played with the boys.
Herrington saw something in Wilson that made him know she would excel on the tennis court. So he went to her father John O’Connor and asked him about allowing his daughter to take private lessons.
The father said he didn’t believe his daughter would leave the diamond, noting it was her first love.
To which Herrington replied, “She’ll win state!”
“If she wins state,” John O’Connor said, “I’ll build her a tennis court.”
“I have a tennis court in my backyard,” Wilson said with a laugh.
Dockery said he drove five-and-a-half hours to address the board. He was away on a family matter. Dockery said the board members know the reason the Mustangs tennis program was a powerhouse in the 1980s was because of the Herringtons.
“They drove kids to tournaments in their own vehicles,” he said. “They still come to tournaments just because they want to be around those kids.”
Wilson said no one could take the place of her dad, and Herrington treated her like a daughter in many ways. She recalled having a boyfriend, who was older than her when she was freshman on the tennis team.
“He would get me all twisted up,” she said. “Charlie told me to get rid of him. He also told me, ‘If you lose one service game, you’re going to get it.'”
To the Herringtons, it wasn’t enough to survive and advance; the Mustangs needed to win and conquer, she said.
“He didn’t want us to play and win,” she said. “He wanted us to play beyond our potential.”
It’s the fourth athletic portion at the high school named after a citizen who has influenced Mustang athletics. The first was the varsity gymnasium called Max Copeland Gym after former First Baptist Church of Marble Falls pastor Max Copeland. The the baseball and softball complex is called Scearce Fields, named after former high school head baseball coach Ronnie Scearce and his father, Pop, who was the field maintenance keeper. And the track at Mustang Stadium is called Leonel Manzano Track after graduate Leonel Manzano, who captured a silver medal in the men’s 1,500 meters at the 2012 London Olympics.
The field at Pony Stadium at the Marble Falls Middle School bears the name of former coach Roy Woerner.
MFISD Superintendent Rob O’Connor indicated he wanted to make sure the plaques renaming the facility are fitting of all the Herringtons have done for the tennis program. The aim is to have a bench inside the complex and plaques at each entrance of the tennis center. Contact Midge Dockery at email@example.com for more information.
Herrington said she didn’t attend the meeting, wanting trustees to be able to discuss and vote their conscious. She said she was aware many of her husband’s former pupils had been talking about addressing the board, getting plaques and installing a bench at the tennis center.
“I don’t know who all is involved,” she said. “I’m grateful they want to honor Charlie. Down the road, people may not know who Charlie Herrington was, but it’s a legacy. It means a lot, it’s priceless.”
“They’re going to know them,” Wilson said, “because I’m going to make sure.”