Woodford County senior Claire Goodrum was all smiles last Friday when she signed to swim at Emory & Henry College in Emory, Va., but there was sadness in her heart.
Maddie Jackson, her best friend and swimming teammate since fifth grade, wasn't there to share the moment.
High school seniors are supposed to enjoy a carefree few months leading up to graduation, but that hasn't been the case for Claire. Her world changed Feb. 9 when Maddie was killed in a car accident on her way to an after-school practice.
The region meet followed a few days later, and Claire, wracked by grief, wasn't sure she could compete. "I didn't know if I could swim until that day, right up until the meet started," she said.
She did swim, determined to do her best for Maddie. Motivated by the memory of her friend, Claire won the 200 freestyle in school-record time, and qualified for the state in the 100 butterfly with another school record. In the state meet, Claire posted personal bests twice in the 100 fly (in the prelims and finals). Claire said Maddie's spirit carried her through the water. "For sure. She was there with me the whole way."
Prom has come and gone. Graduation is in three weeks. And Claire thinks about how much she's missing her friend, and how much her friend is missed. Claire's Twitter account has a photo of them together in the water, smiling playfully. Below the photo is Claire's message to the world: have faith, be kind, love all, live life — #LiveLikeMaddie 12/15/96-2/9/15.
"I'm definitely stronger after all that's happened," Claire said. "And Maddie is always here with me."
■ Baseball's postseason begins next week. 42nd District at Sayre Athletic Complex: Monday — Henry Clay vs. Bryan Station, 6; Tuesday — Scott County vs. Sayre, 6; Wednesday — finals, 6. 43rd District at Lexington Catholic: Monday — Lexington Catholic vs. Paul Laurence Dunbar, 6; Tuesday — Lexington Christian vs. Tates Creek, 6; Lafayette vs. LexCath-Dunbar winner, 8.; Wednesday — finals, 6.
■ Softball's postseason begins next week. 42nd District at Henry Clay: Monday — Henry Clay vs. Bryan Station, 6; Tuesday — Scott County vs. Henry Clay-Bryan Station winner, 6. 43rd District at Lafayette: Monday — LCA vs. Lexington Catholic, 6; Tuesday — Dunbar vs. LCA-LexCath winner, 6; Lafayette vs. Tates Creek, 7:30; Wednesday — finals, 6.
■ The tennis coaches at Lexington's public high schools have petitioned Fayette County Public Schools for an increase in their supplemental salary and funds for an assistant coach. Currently, only the head tennis coach is paid ($3,150), and it's less than what head coaches in some other sports get. (Swimming and wrestling coaches, for example, receive $3,900, plus an assistant in each sport gets $1,600). Tennis coaches handle both the boys' and girls' programs. That's asking a lot from one coach. Dunbar, for example, has 42 tennis players (25 boys, 17 girls). "You can't help but have simultaneous matches at different locations on the same day. One coach can't do it alone," said Dan Burch, a local teaching pro who helps Dunbar Coach Jonathan Thompson. Henry Clay has 41 players (26 girls, 15 boys). Blue Devils Coach John Herring's wife, Christy, helps him oversee the programs. "It becomes an issue of fairness," Herring said. "I don't think it'd be a huge commitment to fund an assistant coach position."
■ Raceland baseball coach Randy Vanderhoof picked up his 500th career victory when the Rams beat Lawrence County 5-3. Vanderhoof is a Raceland institution. He's in his 29th season as baseball coach, and previously coached the Rams' football and girls' basketball teams.
■ Lawrence County Coach Travis Feltner, who's pushing for baseball classification, took exception to comments made by Alan Stein in last week's notebook. Stein, former CEO of the Lexington Legends, was an early advocate for a 16-team state tournament. He thinks it'd be a mistake to go to classes. "The experiences of the kids far outweigh the few coaches who worry about whether they can win it all or not," Stein said. "I've been directly told by grandparents with tears in their eyes how much they appreciated this moment."
Feltner said he took a survey of the state's coaches, and 71 out of 100 voted in favor of a class system. Scott County football coach Jim McKee, who also coaches the Cardinals' freshman baseball team, agrees that the KHSAA should divide baseball into classes. McKee led Scott County to the Class 6A football title in 2013 and shared the accomplishment with his son, Clay, who quarterbacked the Cards to the top. "I bet the dad of the Class A state championship QB was just as proud," McKee said. "I respect what Alan Stein said about how the grandmother comes up to him and says thanks, but why wouldn't the grandmother of a 2A state champ be just as proud?"
■ Harrison County's baseball team beat Covington Scott last week for its 20th win. This is the 35th consecutive 20-win season for Coach Mac Whitaker's Thorobreds.
■ Luke Daniels, a four-sport star at Paintsville, signed to play basketball at the Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut. He was first-team academic all-state in baseball, basketball, football and soccer.
■ Clinton County point guard Keifer Dalton, the program's all-time leader in points (2,158), assists (602) and steals (362), will walk on at Western Kentucky next season.
■ Boone County has hired Jessica Wendeln as its girls' basketball coach. Wendeln has a tough act to follow: Nell Fookes led Boone County to 686 victories and nine region titles in 30 years as coach. Wendeln, who was a standout player at Covington Scott, was an assistant at Simon Kenton last year.
■ Justin Miller of state champ Owensboro will sign with Kentucky Wesleyan. The 6-7, 285-pound Miller, MVP of the Sweet Sixteen, withdrew an earlier commitment to Coppin State.
■ Hilton Isable is the new boys' basketball coach at Allen County-Scottsville. He'll succeed James Williett, who left the Patriots for Glasgow. Isable was a girls' assistant at Allen County-Scottsville last season.
■ Henry Clay's Jeremiah Tisdale, who missed his senior year of basketball after having ACL surgery last fall, signed with Lake Land, a junior college in Mattoon, Ill. As a junior, Tisdale averaged 14.4 points and 6.2 rebounds and led Henry Clay to the 11th Region finals.
■ The KHSAA's third annual bass fishing championship is Friday and Saturday on Kentucky Lake. Competition will begin each day at 7 a.m. Weigh-ins will be at approximately 7:30.
■ The Kentucky Football Coaches Association's summer clinic is Saturday at Centre College. Speakers include former Cincinnati Bengals coach Sam Wyche, Boyle County coach (and forrmer UK assistant) Chuck Smith and KHSAA commissioner Julian Tackett. The clinic is 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.