By Bryan Stevens
Unicoi County High School graduate Jack Stallard will be the namesake for a scholarship to be given to student-athletes at Texas’ Kilgore College. In February, businessman, philanthropist and Kilgore College alumnus Mike Clements gifted $630,000 to the Kilgore College Foundation to create 40 individual student scholarships.
Stallard, a 1984 UCHS graduate but a longtime Texas resident and sports editor of the Longview News-Journal, had one of those scholarships endowed in his honor. The result is the Jack Stallard Women’s Athletic Scholarship. As the honoree, Stallard was allowed to designate how he’d like the scholarship in his name to be given. He chose to have it go to female athletes.
“So beginning next year and for the years to follow,” Stallard told The Erwin Record, “a deserving softball or basketball athlete will get the Jack Stallard Women’s Athletic Scholarship at Kilgore College.”
Stallard said he’s honored that Clements, who he describes as one of Kilgore’s biggest supporters and one of the most generous people I know,” selected him as a namesake. “It has always been a dream of mine to do this, and for someone to do it in my name just blows my mind and makes me even more determined to take care of the kids,” Stallard said.
While Stallard was born in Fort Worth, Texas, he and his family moved to Erwin when he was 3. He lived in Erwin until he was 19, but his journey back to Texas from Erwin has taken a few twists and turns. After graduating from UCHS in 1984, he attended East Tennessee State University for one year. He then became a student at Kilgore College from the spring of 1986 until the spring of 1987, when he became sports editor at the local daily newspaper — The Kilgore News Herald — at the age of 21. Stallard spent three years at the Kilgore News Herald, and then he became sports editor at the Lufkin Daily News for seven years. He moved back to Kilgore and has been sports editor at the Longview News-Journal since October of 1997.
“I live in Kilgore, but Longview is a town of 85,000 about 13 miles from Kilgore,” he explained.
Stallard is a well-known and respected member of the Texas sports community. He is president of the Texas Sports Writers Association, and for the past 15 years, he has been chairman for the TSWA’s All-State Volleyball and Softball teams. Stallard has achieved some other career highlights, too. He’s the East Texas Media Advisory Board Member for the Texas Built Ford Tough High School Football Player of the Week and Player of the Year Award — now in its 15th season. He was inducted into the East Texas Coaches Association Hall of Fame as its Distinguished Service Award honoree in 2020. Stallard was also the Texas Girls Coaches Association Sportswriter of the Year in 2004 and a nominee for the honor two other times. He was the American Southwest Conference Outstanding Media Service Award winner in 2014. Stallard has also been a contributing writer to Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Magazine for more than two decades and is a longtime voter for the Associated Press Sports Editor’s All-State Football Teams and the Associated Press weekly high school football polls in Texas.
Stallard said that he chose to designate the yearly scholarship be awarded to a female athlete because when he first got into the business, he was actually told by a couple of older sports editors in surrounding towns that he shouldn’t even bother covering female sports. “In their words, ‘No one goes to the games and no one buys newspapers because of girlie sports,’” Stallard recalled.
Undeterred, Stallard went and watched a practice for the local volleyball team. He said he saw for himself how hard the girls were working in a gym with no air conditioning in early August. He decided he was going to give female sports the coverage it also deserved in the newspaper.
“Those girls put together the best season in school history, advancing to the state tournament,” he recalled. “I just went along for the ride —simply doing my job — but the entire town fell in love with those girls, and I realized folks did care about ‘girlie sports.’”
Stallard said he was also fortunate enough that in his three years as sports editor at the Kilgore News Herald, the Kilgore College women’s basketball team won two National Junior College Athletic Association national championships. “As far as my love for Kilgore College, that goes back to my time as a student there,” he said. “I was assistant sports editor and editorial columnist at the school newspaper – The Flare – for three semesters (spring of 1986-spring of 1987).”
In addition, Stallard’s wife, Rachel, was later (seven years later) editor of The Flare.
“She later became the newspaper’s adviser and taught journalism classes there and is currently marketing outreach coordinator at the college,” Stallard said. Their son, Kyle, is a student at Kilgore College and is in his second year as a manager for the Kilgore College Rangerettes.
“KC has been part of my life for more than three decades,” he said. “It means a lot to my family, to Kilgore and to East Texas.” Just as Stallard and his family all have ties to the college, it’s the same for Clements, which is why he’s been so generous to the college.
Clements, the owner of Energy Weldfab, has a long partnership with Kilgore College that began in 1974 when Mike met his late wife, Amy, while attending classes at KC.
“I’m blessed to be in a situation where I am able to give back to change students’ lives, one student at a time,” Clements said in a press release about his $630,000 scholarship gift.
Energy Weldfab’s success has been a tool that has allowed Clements to support and give generously to charities and organizations that serve local communities and others.
“We are beyond grateful to Mike for this gift,” said Kilgore College President Dr. Brenda Kays. “His generous and selfless gifts allow countless students the opportunity to attend college who otherwise might not have been able to. The legacy he is creating increases access to college for generations of students to come.”