Quitman honors Pat Neighbors


A revered Quitman educator and coach was honored last Tuesday night prior to the Lady Bulldogs three-game sweep of Class 5A Whitehouse. Quitman’s first volleyball coach, Pat Neighbors, was honored in front of a packed home-side crowd at Delbert Ballard Memorial Gym.

Quitman has had seven volleyball coaches in 50 years. Neighbors was the first, building the traditionally strong program from the ground up. She was head coach from 1967 to 1985.

Current Head Coach Ashlee Lingo was excited about honoring Coach Neighbors. “This was one of my favorite nights at Ballard Gym. We had a great crowd to honor Coach Pat Neighbors. She is such a wonderful woman and we wanted to pay our respect to the lady that started the volleyball program. This program is so much more than playing games.

“It has taught young women how to succeed through hard work and dedication. This has carried over into their lives through work and family.  We had a lot of other special people in the stands who have coached and taught at QISD. The girls played the best I have seen them play all year and they picked a great night to do so. I’m so proud of their constant hard work and willingness to improve daily. “

Neighbors is married to Lon Neighbors and has three children, nine grandchildren and twelve great grandchildren. She graduated from East Texas State College in 1958, but continued pursuing additional degrees and licenses to teach in different areas, from business to computers and finally counseling. Neighbors started her career at Hawkins ISD and then went to work for Quitman ISD in 1961, where she taught all girls PE classes, typing, and world history.

She also coached the cheerleaders, pep squad, and girls tennis. Tennis was the only competitive sport that Quitman offered for girls at the time, having dropped basketball in the ‘50s. Girls later started competing in track at the high school level and then at the junior high level.

In introducing Neighbors, current Assistant Coach Elizabeth Miller said, “She was still the only girls coach for all sports at all levels including the cheerleaders and pep squad until David Seago took over as head girls track coach in the early ‘70s and she became his assistant,” Miller noted. “Coach Neighbors started competitive volleyball in the mid-sixties and Texas held its first state tournament April of 1967. She took the 1971 Lady Bulldog team to the state tournament.”

After 24 years, Neighbors retired from coaching following the 1984-85 school year, devoting her time to teaching and counseling students here and at Rains ISD until the past few years. Each year Neighbors is honored at a freshman and junior varsity tournament in her name.

“Coach Neighbors, thank you for starting such a wonderful program that has impacted the lives of so many young women. You have paved the way for hundreds of young girls, including three alumni on our current volleyball staff and many more to come,” Miller added.  “We want to thank you for being a pioneer of this volleyball program. You truly created a legacy. We will forever be grateful.”

In five decades of Quitman volleyball, Quitman’s head volleyball coaches have been Neighbors (1967-1985, state finals 1971); Susan Ledkins(1985-1987); Jackie Dammann (1987-2000, state 1988,1992,1993); Keith Guyon (2001-2009, state finals 2003,2004,2005);Lisa Rockhill (2010) ; Sabrina Haggerty (2011-2012); and Ashlee Lingo (2013-present). Quitman Lady Bulldogs have competed at the state tournament seven times, won many district championships and playoffs.