One of Scott County’s biggest fans is never too far from the action.
Ryan Barts is a constant presence on the sidelines at Scott County athletic events, and not just those nearby; Barts was in Louisville with the football team when it played St. Xavier in the Class 6A semifinals in December, and was in Richmond for the entirety of the basketball team’s run in the 11th Region Tournament this month.
He has traveled this week with the team to Rupp Arena. No matter the site, you can count on seeing Barts, a nervous bundle of excitement, decked head-to-toe in Cardinals gear.
Barts, a 28-year-old with autism, was not very vocal as a child, and was at one time averse to sporting events because of the large crowds. Not any longer; Barts is unafraid to bark suggestions from the sidelines, where his voice is as distinguishable as those of Hall of Fame coaches Billy Hicks and Jim McKee.
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He’ll have at least one more chance to see his Cardinals play basketball — and offer commentary — this season when they take on Warren Central in the semifinals of the 101st Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Boys’ Sweet Sixteen on Saturday.
“I’m a big Scott County Cardinals fan, since my freshman year in high school,” Barts said. “I love and enjoy watching my Cards play. ... I’m one of the biggest fans in school history.”
The Herald-Leader spoke with Barts after Scott County gritted out a win over Lexington Christian Academy in the 11th Region finals. He already was concerned about the Cards’ much-anticipated first-round matchup with Trinity, whom they overcame thanks to a three-pointer from Cooper Robb in the waning seconds.
Barts graduated from Scott County in 2008 — he’s looking forward to his 10-year reunion this year, he said — and has since been selected twice to compete for Team Kentucky track-and-field in the Special Olympics World Games. He took home a gold medal and two silver medals in the 2010 games and is set to compete in this summer’s games from July 1-6 in Seattle.
“I’m the fastest Special Olympics athlete in the state,” Barts said.
It was his participation in the Special Olympics that helped alleviate Barts’ concern toward crowds and boosted his passion for sports. He went on to be a team manager for the basketball and football teams while in high school.
Barts was there for Scott County’s state title runs in basketball (2007), football (2013) and both times in softball (2014 and 2016). Barts said his friend Matt Walls — who played on the 2007 basketball team — is his favorite athlete that’s come through the program.
Scott County has been the only game in Georgetown for a long time, but that’ll change beginning with the 2019-20 school year, when Great Crossing High School is set to open. The Warhawks will have to find their own superfan.
“Even though we’ll have a new school in the next two years, I’ll still forever be a Scott County Cardinal,” Barts said.