Cooper High School inducted three more beloved Cougars into the school’s Hall of Fame during Homecoming, Sept. 15, pushing the number of inductees to 91 since the Hall of Fame began in 1993.
Former principal Gail Gregg, longtime teacher/counselor Sherilyn Hanks, and legendary gymnastics coach Jim McKinney were inducted into the Hall of Fame during ceremonies at the Cooper Auditorium.
Gregg served as the seventh principal in Cooper High School’s history before becoming the Executive Director of Career and Technical Education, the principal of Holland Medical High School, the Executive Director of Secondary Education, and the Deputy Superintendent of the Abilene ISD.
Gregg was named the Region XII CTE Administrator of the Year in 2015. Before that, he had been named the Texas Association of Secondary Schools Principal of the Year in 2007 and the Outstanding Middle School Principal in 1997. He also was named the ACU TRIO Champion Award Recipient in 2006.
Gregg, who was a four-year starter at tight end at Harding (Arkansas) University and an honorable mention All-American selection in 1978, completed a Bachelor of Arts in Physical Education and a Master of Secondary Education from Harding in 1980 and finished a second Master’s of Secondary Education from Stephen F. Austin University in 1989. He began his career in education at Temple High School and had coaching stops at Cameron Yoe High School, Hallsville High School, and Abilene Christian University.
The 2011 Talisman dedicatee is now retired after serving 39 years in education, 27 of those at the administrative level. He currently resides in Abilene with his wife of 45 years, Joan Hogg Gregg, and the couple has three children and eight grandchildren.
A 33-year faculty member at Cooper, Hanks served in several roles. She began her teaching at Cooper in 1973 as a sophomore English teacher and quickly became part of the fabric of Cooper, serving as a sponsor for the sophomore class, a sponsor for Cougars’ Pride, and a sponsor for the pep squad, which became the Cougarettes.
Shortly after, she became a senior English teacher and added sponsor of the Senior Class and Sponsor for Future Teachers of America. In 1975 Sherilyn became the English Department Chair, a role she managed for 18 years. In 1998 she transitioned from the classroom to the counselor’s office, becoming a senior counselor in 1998 before her retirement in 2006.
A 1972 graduate of Hardin-Simmons University, Ms. Hanks also received a master’s degree in Guidance and Counseling from Abilene Christian University in 1977. She was named Outstanding Young Women of America in 1975, Who’s Who Among American Teachers in 1992, was named Talisman dedicatee in 2004, and has served on various committees throughout her career in education. However, perhaps her best contributions have come through the beauty of the written word.
She has had several writings published, including “Black Widow and the Butterfly,” “Dignity,” and “I Don’t want you To Love Me.” One of her stories, “Haunting Echoes,” was published by former student Jay Moore in a book he co-wrote, Abilene Stories from Then to Now. Another former student and 2012 Hall of Fame inductee Dom Testa is also an author and used Ms. Hanks as a character in one set of his books.
Hanks is retired and lives in Abilene. She has one daughter, Laura, two grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.
A native of Memphis, Tennessee, McKinney holds an undergraduate degree from Memphis State University and a master’s degree in education from ACU. McKinney taught for 32 years, including 28 at Cooper, in physical education, health, and social studies.
He is best known at Cooper for coaching gymnastics. His legendary career spanned 25 years, winning three state championships. His teams also finished second four times and in third place eight times. He coached 38 individual state champions during his tenure at Cooper. During that time, McKinney was named Texas High School Gymnastics Coach of the Year five times and was twice named the National High School Gymnastics Coach of the Year.
He has judged 120 national championship meets, including the US Olympic Trials, USA Nationals, and the NCAA Nationals, along with 15 International championship meets. He has been the president of the Texas High School Gymnastics Coaches Association. He has been inducted into the Texas High School Gymnastics Hall of Fame, the Gymnastics Association of Texas Hall of Fame, and the National Gymnastics Judges Association Hall of Fame.
McKinney and his wife, Lydia, live in Arlington and have two daughters and three grandchildren.