Stanley Whisenhunt is best known for his years as Wylie superintendent in the 70s and 80s when the district was beginning its metamorphosis from country school to multi-campus, burgeoning south-side district.
But in May, Stanley’s accomplishments as a Wylie coach were garnering him all the attention.
Whisenhunt was inducted into the Big Country Athletic Hall of Fame for his success in the 60s and early 70s as girls’ basketball coach. That success included winning 15 consecutive district championships, two regional championships and one state championship.
His 1970 team was the first Wylie team in any sport to win a state championship.
Whisenhunt grew up in the View area and attended school at Butterfield when it was its own school district. He transferred to Wylie as a sophomore and played football, basketball, baseball and ran track before graduating from Wylie in 1952.
He went to Hardin-Simmons and McMurry with aspirations of being a teacher.
“The teachers in my education influenced my life,” he said. “I admired the way they lived and the way they did their jobs. I decided I’d like to be an educator.”
Raybourn Landers, a Wylie coach, principal and eventually a superintendent, was a particularly big influence. In 1958, Landers hired his former student to fill an open teaching job at Wylie Junior High. Coaching came with the teaching job.
Whisenhunt taught and coached all junior high sports until he was promoted to girls’ varsity basketball coach in 1962. In those days, girls’ basketball teams played with six players on the court – three forwards on one end of the court and three guards on the other end of the court. Whisenhunt attributes his success as a coach to having good players. He said all he did was try to teach them to play the right way.
“I wanted them to learn the fundamentals of the game of basketball,” he said. “If we worked hard and learned the little things, the big things would take care of themselves. We found out the harder we worked, the luckier we got.”
Whisenhunt continued to coach basketball even after he became superintendent, but the administrative job began to take more and more of his time and energy. When he began teaching at Wylie in 1958, the school had about 300 students. When he became superintendent in 1972, it had about 500, he said. When he retired in 1985, it had grown to 1,500 students.
“Administration was becoming more and more a full time job,” he said. “Plus, all the high schools went from six players to five players in basketball. When that happened, that seemed like the idea time to get out of the coaching part of it.”
Under Whisenhunt’s leadership, Wylie built a new high school on 707 (now the Junior High) and later built what is now the Intermediate Campus. Prior to that, all Wylie students went to school on the campus at Buffalo Gap and Antilley roads.
Whisenhunt played all his games as a student in the old gym that still stands on the corner of that campus, and he also coached all his games in that gym.
Whisenhunt, now 86, has continued to attend district events, and he remains the number one source for information about Wylie’s history. Wylie Superintendent Joey Light has dubbed him “Mr. Wylie” because of his nearly life-long association with the district.
Whisenhunt likes for people to know that he is the superintendent who hired Wylie Athletic Director Hugh Sandifer in 1979.
“I told Hugh I want that on my tombstone, ‘He Hired Hugh Sandifer,’” Whisenhunt jokes.
Winning the state championship was certainly one of the highlights of his career, but he said seeing his former students succeed is more important.
“There were just so many good things that happened, especially when you see former students who are successful in their lives,” he said. “Those are the things that make me feel good. You feel like you had a little part of it.”
He is already a member of the Wylie Hall of Honor and the Texas High School Basketball Hall of Fame, and Whisenhunt said he is proud to now be in the Big Country Athletic Hall of Fame.
“It is an honor,” he said. “I am grateful for it. If this causes any former student who was at Wylie at that time to remember those days and think, ‘I was a part of that’, if it causes them to remember the state championship, that’s what it is important to me about being inducted into the Hall of Fame.”