Becky Bushong's labor of love to help establish a "Wall of Fame" for Henry Clay athletics has been going on for more than seven years, and she's more enthusiastic about it now than ever.
That's because what once seemed impossible — tracking down photographs, rosters and information on more than 100 individual and team state champions that have represented Henry Clay (and its predecessor, Lexington High) since 1918 — is now manageable.
In fact, Bushong, now retired from being athletic director at the school, hopes there will be an "unveiling" at the school this fall with 50 framed photos of champions, with lots more to come.
Joe Ratliff, a chemistry teacher at Henry Clay, has spent more than 100 hours digging through Henry Clay archives at the University of Kentucky, and the KHSAA archives at Eastern Kentucky University. "We're trying to find names, like who was on that 1922 state championship basketball team," Ratliff said. "It's been very enlightening and very exciting. Just last week I found another state champion in swimming.
"It's about trying to bring honor to these people."
Henry Clay's Wall of Fame will be pretty exclusive. Having earned all-state honors isn't enough. KHSAA state titles are required, or special achievement, such as national or state player of the year awards, college national championships, or reaching the professional ranks.
Henry Clay has had 25 state title teams, including baseball in 1973, football in 1981, boys' basketball in 1983 and girls' basketball in 1990. The latest individual to win a state title for the Blue Devils was Michael Whalen in wrestling two months ago.
Among those who have earned recognition for reaching the pro ranks are John Shelby and Collin Cowgill in baseball, Frank Minnifield in football and Josh Teater in golf.
The Wall of Fame committee could use help in tracking down state champs, or their relatives. Anyone interested in lending a hand (or donating money) to the cause can email email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
■ Basketball tryouts are at Georgetown College this weekend for the Kentucky All-Stars who will play Indiana in June. Tryouts for juniors (boys and girls) are on Saturday, and seniors on Sunday. The Kentucky Association of Basketball Coaches will choose the teams. Mr. and Miss Basketball — Quentin Snider of Ballard and Ivy Brown of LaRue County — are guaranteed roster spots. Chris O'Hearn of Mason County will coach the senior boys. Jennifer Parsons of Corbin will coach the girls. The all-star teams will be announced next week by the Bluegrass Sports Commission. Kentucky will play Indiana on June 13 at Transylvania, and on June 14 in Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Indiana will be led by Mr. Basketball (and UK signee) Trey Lyles and Miss Basketball Lamina Cooper, who has committed to go to Purdue. Kentucky's junior all-stars will play Indiana June 6 at Scecina Memorial in Indianapolis, and June 7 in Lexington at a site to be determined.
■ The 23rd annual Russell Athletic Kentucky-Ohio all-star basketball games will be played Saturday at Thomas More College. The girls play at 5:30 p.m., followed by the boys at 7:30. The Kentucky girls' roster includes Sweet Sixteen MVP Danielle Lawrence of state champ Butler, Miss Basketball finalists Makenzie Cann and Eriel McKee of Anderson County, Nicole Kiernan of Newport Central Catholic, and Kayla Rankin of Perry Central, along with Sarah Cooley of Lafayette and Brooke Todd of Paul Laurence Dunbar. The Kentucky boys' roster includes Sweet Sixteen MVP Nick Ruthsatz of state champ Covington Catholic, Mr. Basketball finalist Justin Johnson of Perry Central, and Henry Clay's Jordan Green.
■ Danville senior shortstop Collin Harris is off to a torrid start at the plate. Going into Thursday's game, he was 19-for-31 (.612) with 10 homers, 21 runs and 20 RBI. He also has nine stolen bases. He hit three homers in a loss to West Jessamine. Harris, who has signed with Chipola Junior College in Florida, is drawing attention from pro scouts.
■ St. Xavier senior catcher Austin Clemons, who has signed with Louisville, is out for the season with a torn ACL, according to the Courier-Journal. Clemons hit .538 last year and helped the Tigers reach the quarterfinals of the state tournament.
■ Centre College sophomore Stephen Shunk (Paul Laurence Dunbar) was named Southern Athletic Association pitcher of the week after a complete-game 10-0 win over Sewanee on Sunday. Shunk gave up three hits (all singles) and had six strikeouts in seven innings.
■ South Warren boys' basketball coach Derrick Clubb has resigned after posting a four-year record of 59-60.
■ Transylvania junior Nicole Coffman (Casey County) has been named MVP of Heartland Conference women's basketball for the second year in a row. Hoffman led the league in scoring with an average of 20.8 points per game.
■ Central Missouri won the NCAA Division II basketball title a couple weeks ago, 30 years after its first championship. The Mules' 1984 title team was coached by former UK assistant Lynn Nance, and their bench included sophomore guard Kenny Southworth, a 1982 Bryan Station graduate.
■ Baseball teams go to Florida for spring break, so why don't football teams head south for fall break? Frankfort will this October. Craig Foley's Panthers will play First Baptist Academy in Naples, Fla., on Oct. 3. The team will leave Frankfort on Sept. 28 and make the 15-hour drive to Fort Myers, where they'll get in some practice (and beach) time before the Thursday night game. Foley said his Panthers are already raising money for the trip. Anyone interested in donating can email him at email@example.com. The last time I can recall that an area football team traveled to Florida for a game was 1997 when Tates Creek opened the season at Pensacola Tate. The Commodores did some serious fundraising (about $20,000) and flew to Florida.
■ Joey Thacker has joined Lexington Christian Academy's football staff as offensive coordinator under new coach Ethan Atchley. Thacker will continue to teach and coach girls' basketball at Franklin County, which he's done for 11 years. "I work for some great people at Franklin County, and they know (football) is a passion of mine, so they're letting me do this," Thacker said. A former head coach at Frankfort and offensive coordinator at Franklin County, Thacker was out of football the last couple of years while his wife, Matosha, dealt with serious health issues. He is an offensive guru when it comes to the wide-open passing attack made popular by Tony Franklin, and he's traveled the country teaching it to high school teams. Now he'll take that talent to LCA. "We're going to air it up and see what happens," Thacker said.
■ Joe Nichols has resigned as Fern Creek's football coach after three years and 12-21 record.
■ Mike Harmon's surprising announcement that he's stepping down as Tates Creek's football coach means that since Sam Simpson took over at Henry Clay in 1993, the other six high school football teams in Lexington will have had 34 coaches.
■ Tates Creek receiver TaVon Dunn, who had 63 catches for 1,043 yards and 14 touchdowns over the last three years, has committed to play at Jireh Prep in Matthews, N.C.
■ Taylor Wheeler, a basketball and softball star at Boyd County, has signed to play softball at Walters State (Tenn.), a junior-college power.
■ Wake Forest senior outfielder Evan Stephens (LCA) will receive a $5,000 scholarship for post-graduate studies based on his academic and athletic achievements. Stephens, who will graduate with a degree in finance, is hitting .333 this season and leads the Demon Deacons in hits. He's started 133 games over the last four years.
■ The Bowling Green Daily News reported that police have closed their investigation and won't file charges against former Greenwood boys' basketball coach Jason Stonebraker, who allegedly had inappropriate communication with a female student. Stonebraker resigned Feb. 25 for what he called personal reasons one day before Warren County Public Schools confirmed the coach was the center of an investigation.