Quitman’s Pat Neighbors was honored prior to the volleyball game last Tuesday at Ballard Gym. Coach Neighbors is an icon not only in Quitman, but in high school volleyball in Texas. She was a pioneer of the sport becoming part of the University Interscholastic League (UIL) making volleyball an official high school sport.
I grew up in Dallas and attended W.W. Samuell High School graduating in 1969. At that time in Dallas schools, girl’s athletics consisted of tennis. If females wanted to be active in extra-curricular events it had to be in band, drill team, cheerleading or pep squad. There was no volleyball, basketball, softball or even track for Dallas high school ladies until the 1970s.
I had the privilege of broadcasting Quitman’s volleyball state championship run in the late 1980s when they were coached by Jackie Damann. I worked for KMOO at the time and we did a live broadcast from from a large high school facility in South Austin. Coach Neighbors went with me to be the color commentator. She taught me a lot about the game by simply listening to her enthusiasm and knowledge.
After winning the first match against Alpine, Quitman lost to Jewett Leon in the state final. Our radio equipment went on the fritz, and up until the first serve, we had been unable to get on the air. We ended up using a telephone and handing the receiver back and forth to call the game. It didn’t bother Coach Neighbors, she just grabbed the phone and got after it, bailing me out on more than one instance when I had not a clue what was happening on the court.
If there was ever anyone who deserved to be in a Hall of Fame, it is Pat Neighbors. If there is a Texas High School Volleyball Coaches Hall of Fame, she should be at the top of the list. A great coach and one classy woman, Coach Neighbors is one of a kind.