Three Alumni Recognized at 2022 Wall of Honor Ceremony


Mark Fries, Martha Madison, and Ike Nwankwo are the newest additions to the Cypress Creek High School Wall of Honor, which recognizes Creek alumni who have positively impacted their field or broader society. An induction ceremony was hosted by the Wall of Honor committee on May 17 in LGI 1.

Ikenna “Ike” Nwankwo is a former NCAA Basketball player known for playing with the UCLA Bruins from 1992 to 1996. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies from UCLA in 2001. Nwankwo played for several professional teams between 1997 and 2010 including the Houston Rockets, the Los Angeles Lakers, and the Miami Heat. Nwankwo was forced to retire from the NBA after an injury, but he found his calling coaching and mentoring youth. In 2010, Nwankwo founded Topflight Basketball Co. Ltd in Bangkok, Thailand. Nwankwo later opened locations in Hong Kong, China and Los Angeles, California where his students refer to him as Coach Ike.

“[The injury] was absolutely devastating for me because I didn’t know any other identity,” said Nwankwo. “From when I was very young and much taller than the other kids, I knew I was going to the NBA. I had my idol Hakeem Olajuwon and Michael Jordan, so I thought I was going to be the next one. To not be able to have that opportunity was devastating to me. Somewhere deep down inside I knew that if I persevered, then I would have some type of success.”

“Never give up,” said Nwankwo. “It’s kind of cliché but you have to have that passion and pursue it with everything. Once you get to my age you don’t get the chance to go back, so pursue your dreams with everything you have and don’t let anyone discourage you.”

Martha Madison is an Emmy-nominated actress and hospitality recruiter. She is best known for her role as Belle Black on the NBC soap opera “Days of Our Lives.” She is also Vice President of the hospitality recruiting service, One Haus. Madison was a Silverado during her time at Creek and went on to serve as the captain of Texas A&M’s Aggie Dance Team. Madison has performed on a variety of stages including Houston’s very own Theater Under the Stars, and the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York. Madison graduated from Texas A&M University with a B.S. degree in psychology in the hopes that it would strengthen her acting career. When she’s not performing, Madison is an advocate for the Association of Frontotemporal Degeneration and National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Madison was joined by her husband A. J. Gilbert and her daughter Charley. She shared words for her past self later on in the evening during the senior awards ceremony at The Met Church.

Marc Fries works at NASA’s Johnson Space Center as a Cosmic Dust Curator. Fries wasn’t always a NASA scientist. He struggled in high school and struggled to find his place in life. After graduation, Fries decided to join the United States Marine Corps. After completing service, he went back to school and earned his Bachelor’s degree in chemistry. While studying for his Ph. D. Fries was asked to analyze a meteorite. Fries experienced a “cosmic click” and set his sights on planetary science. He worked at several planetary science institutes and finally landed his current job where he works for the government collecting extraterrestrial dust.

Fries was unable to attend the ceremony due to illness, so Linda Waddell delivered his written remarks. Waddell’s daughter nominated Fries for the Wall of Honor. Fries’ mother was the first person to receive the news of his award.

“When I found out I was receiving this award she was the first one I told,” wrote Fries, “She’s my mom and that’s what you do. I was feeling a bit proud of myself when I told her, and her reaction was to burst out laughing. Not a fake laugh either, but one of those really rich laughs that draws fuel from some deep well of irony. I was surprised and she said, ‘Are we talking about Cypress Creek? The same Cypress Creek that you almost failed out of?’ Leave it to your mom to put things into perspective.”

Cypress Creek High School’s former principal, Jim Wells, returned to the school for the ceremony and delivered opening remarks.

The inductees were welcomed by TX-20102 cadets, the Silverado Dance team, and the Cypress Creek drumline.