Just earlier this week, changes were made at Hightower Memorial Stadium and the Altus City Pool, but they were changes for the better for the citizens of Altus.
At the stadium, “State Champions” lettering was fastened to the front of the press box just above the windows. A football decal with the year 1971 was placed to the left of the lettering while a football decal of 2015 was placed to the right.
It serves as a reminder of what the Bulldog football team has accomplished and highlights the seasons each of those teams had in their respective years.
Gabe Barton’s last second field goal that clinched the state championship for Altus against Collinsville seems like just yesterday. A tactic that is seen so often in the National Football League — calling a timeout just before the kick — did nothing to pull Barton off his game. Instead, he split the uprights and did his part to bring Altus High School its first state championship in 44 years.
That is what it represents. It is an honor and it is to let the Bulldogs know they have done it twice before and it is time to get back out there and add more footballs and years to the press box.
At the city pool — which is jointly owned by the City of Altus and Altus Public Schools — the decision was made in the spring by both the school board and the city council, to rename the facility in honor of longtime coach and community favorite Linda Wiginton.
“My mom has given her heart and soul to the swimming program since day one,” said Chad Wiginton. “The impact she has had and will continue to have on her swimmers is immeasurable. The wins and state championships are impressive but her desire to encourage and mold young people is what will stand the test of time. As a family, we are so grateful that the City of Altus and the Altus Public Schools have honored her in this way.”
Wiginton has coached through the best and worst of times. Just earlier this year, during the week she lead her boys to another state championship, tragedy struck the team when Ethan Powers was killed in a car accident. It was an emotional journey for her team but they banded together and won it for him.
Now the school and city are banding together and honoring her more than 35 years of service to the sport of swimming.
“It’s really exciting to see the new sign named after Coach Wiginton,” said Altus Public Schools Superintendent Roger Hill. “She’s meant so much to our swimming program and the positive influence she has had with so many of our student athletes. Coach Wiginton has dedicated her life to the sport of swimming at Altus Public Schools.”
Wiginton’s husband — and perhaps her biggest fan — Larry could not say enough good about his wife.
“This is such an honor for Linda and our family,” Larry Wiginton said. “We appreciate so much the City of Altus and the school board giving this honor to her while she is still active and able to continue on as a role model for so many kids. Linda has such a passion for every activity at that building whether it be water babies or teaching a senior citizen who never learned how to swim.”
Both the sign and the lettering at the stadium are up and available for all to see as an expression of pride from the Altus for all Wiginton and the Bulldog football team have accomplished.
Reach Ryan Lewis at 580-482-1221, ext. 2076.