By Denis House
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — Memories. That’s what I dug up Monday while rummaging through my closest.
I am on vacation this week and decided to go through some stuff and see if there was anything I could throw out. What I found instead was a folder filled with past Kentucky Press Association entries, and looking through it filled me with memories of sports gone by in Laurel County. Some of these won awards, some didn’t.
There were stories and columns written when North Laurel had three foreign exchange students on its basketball team and the ramifications of that action. There was a photo from the December 18, 2002, issue of The Sentinel-Echo of South Laurel students holding an American flag to try and rattle Aurimas Silys, Magnus Palsson and Oliver Mansour, but it didn’t work, as North Laurel prevailed by 10 over South Laurel. But South would turn the tables with a region title win over the Jaguars.
Then there was the special issue we did when South Laurel won the boys’ state basketball title in 2005 that won me a first place for Best Special Section. The cover had former coach Steve Wright lifting his arms triumphantly as the clock ticked down in the final game. The Cards took me on a wild ride that season, culminating with a trip to Rupp Arena that saw a classic semifinal win over Pleasure Ridge Park in double overtime.
A feature on black athletes in the 1950s during Black History Month in 2005 won me a first for Best Sports Feature. It still amazes me how this country treated blacks at one time. There was a column I wrote in 2007 after professional wrestler Chris Benoit killed his wife and son and them himself, an incident that still sends shock waves through the sport today. That column also garnered me a first place award.
A feature I did on former Laurel County and University of Kentucky standout Stacey Sheppard, on how she was adjusting from being a player to a coach, also brought home a first place award in 2003 for Best Sports Feature. Another feature I did, in 2009 on the wrestler Abyss, won me a first place award which really came as a shock to me.
I did a nice feature on Patsy Hamm and all she did for South Laurel athletics in 2000. Looking back over it I had forgotten all she did on a volunteer basis.
Then there were a couple of stories that makes me wonder, where are those types of stories today? One was in 2000 on the boys’ basketball game between South Laurel and Knox Central. The story led off with “It was a game that had a little bit of everything. A fight. Two players ejected. A technical for hanging on the rim. Another for a score book violation. A three pointer at the buzzer to send the game to overtime. Another buzzer-beating three to win the game.”
The second ran in the January 22, 1997 issue of The Laurel News-Leader describing the North Laurel-Southwestern Pulaski boys’ basketball game that featured heated words exchanged between head coaches Mark Tucker and Darry Burkett when the two met after the game to shake hands. An old lady tried to kick Tucker, and another person tried to hit Tucker. Police had to be called to diffuse the situation. I had forgotten about those two games.
Then there was the feature I did on three county athletes all battling back from ACL injuries in 1997. Sarah Crook, Diane Lisowe and Scott Robinson all shared their experiences from when the injury happened through surgery then recovery. It was an eye-opening look into the world of ACL injuries.
Those were just a few of the stories, many of which I had forgotten about. It also gave me an idea on how my writing style has changed over the years, along with my hairstyle. Ah, the old mullet. I rocked it and rocked it hard.