Austin College Athletics Celebrates Alumni at Legends Gala
Austin College celebrated the career achievements of former members of the Kangaroo family on Saturday night at its annual Legends Gala, with legendary high school basketball coach Joe Longino among those being honored as this year’s recipient of the Coach Joe Spencer Award for Meritorious Service and Lifetime Achievement in Coaching.
Longino, a 1974 graduate, was a standout member of the Kangaroo basketball team during his time at Austin College, and served as the team captain during the 1973-1974 campaign. After coaching at the middle school level and as an assistant at the high school level, Longino became the head coach at Wylie High School in 1979 before moving on to the head coaching position at Richardson High School in 1981, taking the Eagles to the state Final Four in 1987.
He went on to coach and serve as athletics director at Rockwall High School beginning in 1991, and he also served as the Freshman Center Principal. In 2003, Longino suffered a stroke and due to his health concerns he was forced to retire, though he continues to work part time with the Rockwall basketball team and mentors students, and also sings in his church choir and teaches Sunday school.
Michael Bardgett, a 2002 graduate, was named the Kedric Couch Alumni Coach of the Year after he guided his Melissa High School women’s cross country and women’s track and field teams to tremendous seasons over the past year, with his cross country squad capturing the District 12-3A championship and finishing third in Region 2-3A.
Bardgett also led that team to a ninth place finish at the state meet. This spring he also led his team to District 12-3A and Area 12/13-3A titles, with one of his runners qualifying for the state meet, where he coached her to a fifth place finish in the 800 meter run. While at Austin College he was a member of the Posey Leadership Institute, and now also teaches history at Melissa.
Five former athletics standouts were also inducted into the Athletics Hall of Honor, including former football players Nader Dabboussi, Todd Elliott, Kenneth Hern, and Donald Parnell as well as former tennis player Leslie Day McGee.
Dabboussi, a 1991 graduate, was a four-year letter winner and outstanding player for the Kangaroo football team, and in his senior year he put together a superlative season when he was a First Team All-Conference selection, the conference Lineman of the Year, and a Second Team All-America selection. He is currently a Vice President at Sleeper Sewell Insurance Services, and recently created the Kim Dabboussi Endowed Academic Honors Scholarship at Austin College.
Elliott, a 1987 graduate, excelled on the football field in his three year career at Austin College, earning All-Conference honors at quarterback in each of those seasons. Elliott was also named the TIAA Offensive Player of the Year each year he played, and in 1985 and 1986 he was named as an Honorable Mention All-America selection. He received his Masters degree from Austin College and currently serves as athletics director at Linden-Kildare CISD.
Hern, a 1960 graduate, enjoyed an incredible career on the football field as a two-year letter winner, earning All-America honors at the linebacker position and anchoring an outstanding Kangaroo defensive unit. Hern later received his Masters degree from North Texas State University and is currently the lead director of Flotek Industries and director of Armada Oil. He also served as a member of President George H.W. Bush’s Latin American Counsel in 1993.
Parnell, a 1983 graduate, was a four-year letter winner during his time at Austin College, and put together one of the most impressive football careers in Kangaroo history. A member of the 1981 NAIA National Championship team, he was an All-American in 1982 and was named to the TIAA All-Decade Team for the 1980’s. Parnell served in the United States Marine Corps until 2004, and has served in various positions within the Department of Defense.
McGee, a 1971 graduate, was a standout member of the Kangaroo women’s tennis team in her time at Austin College, lettering all four years and winning a District Championship during her senior campaign. In addition to her excellence on the tennis court, she served as the Intramural Director for three years. She received her Masters degree in 1983 and has enjoyed a long career in education, and has served two terms on the Athletics A-Board.
Austin College athletic teams participate as a member of the NCAA Division III and the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference.
About Austin College
Austin College is a leading national independent liberal arts college located north of Dallas in Sherman, Texas. Founded in 1849, making it the oldest institution of higher education in Texas operating under original charter and name, the college is related by covenant to the Presbyterian Church (USA). Recognized nationally for academic excellence in the areas of international education, pre-professional training, and leadership studies, Austin College is one of 40 schools profiled in Loren Pope’s influential book Colleges that Change Lives.