Category Archives: Baseball

FC’s best athletes reflect over their success

By JD McKay

*Editor’s note: These are JD McKay’s top 10 FC athletes from each decade. Who are yours, and why? Comment in the comment section below to recognize other FC athletes.

Special thanks to athletic director Jeff Cerqueira for helping JD McKay get in contact with several athletes.

FC’s 50-year anniversary is coming to the end, and it has been a historic year in sports. FC has won nine conference titles this year and won seven sectionals, but success has been seen in other athletes before the 2017-18 school year. FC has had a Gatorade Athlete of the Year and a Mr. Indiana Basketball, plus a plethora of other All-State athletes.

Jerry Hale, 1971, Basketball

Jerry Hale was FC’s first all-state athlete, and a member of the FC Superhick team. On March 15, 1971 edition of the Daily Herald, Jerry Birge called Hale “a true superstar.”

“Leading that team to Semi-State was my greatest athletic moment. We had gotten a little better every year since our school was created,” said Hale. “We started sectionals by playing New Albany, who was ranked higher than us. Our school was in the middle of fields, so the kids down the hill decided they would make fun of our school by throwing fake pigs onto the ground around the school and wearing bib overalls. After we upset them, our students bought into the hick theme, and came up with the ‘Superhicks’. Then, we went and played number two Seymour. We were down 15 with five minutes left, and came back and won. We scored 41 points in the fourth quarter, and that was without the three point line.”

After graduating, Hale attended the University of Kentucky and played basketball. By his senior season, he was playing in the national championship against the UCLA Bruins.  

When Hale graduated from college, he worked for a coal company for 27 years. Then, he started consulting for National Steel. Now, he is the director of human resources for the Keeneland Association. He is retiring in August.

“I don’t have many plans for my retirement,” said Hale. “I’m probably going to head to Hilton Head Island for a few months. Do some relaxing and declutter my mind.”  

Advice to any student: “FC is a great school, and what you put into is what you get out of it.”

Marilyn James, 1972, Track

Marilyn James was FC’s first female all-state athlete. She was a member of the track team.

“I went to state in ‘72 and finished third in what is now the 200-meter dash. Then it was the 200-yard dash,” said James.

After she graduated, James did not go to college.

“I went to work after I graduated,” said James. “I worked at a department store while I was still in school, then I worked in the home office of Payless Oil Company. This is my 31st year at Mercer Transportation, and I’m retiring in three years.”

James was a member of the first class to start seventh grade at FC and has seen the school change since she graduated.

“I would not even know my way around there now,” said James. “When I go past the school, I cannot believe how the school has changed. But it is just amazing how the school has grown.”

Advice to any student: “Be the best you can be. Don’t ever give up.”

Pat Graham, 1989, Basketball

Pat Graham was an all-state athlete as a senior, winning Mr. Basketball, and became a McDonald’s All-American.

“My biggest achievements were being Mr. Basketball and a McDonald’s All-American. Mr. Basketball was a bigger award to me. That was my first time when I was on the floor and I realized I wasn’t the best player there. I still have a picture with all the players from both teams. When kids I coach come over and see it they are like, “You’ve got to be kidding me,” when they see Jimmy Jackson, Bobby Hurley, and Shaquille O’Neal in the picture with me.”

Staying near home was the clear choice for Graham, eventually choosing to play at Indiana University for coach Bobby Knight.

“I had it narrowed down to Purdue, Louisville, Indiana, and Kentucky, but after my junior season I decided it was either Indiana or Kentucky. I was really 50-50 between the schools. My family liked Indiana, but we weren’t fanboys. However, my dad liked how Coach [Bobby] Knight graduated his players. Then, probably two weeks before I was going to commit is when the UK scandal broke and the NCAA got involved. That made my choice very easy.”

About a month after graduating from FC, Graham went to Indiana University to start training with basketball coach Knight

After graduating from IU, Graham started working for Pfizer Pharmaceuticals and did that for two years. Now, Graham works for Progressive Health Rehabilitation and has been doing that for 21 years.

Advice to any student: “In the next portion of your life, think about doing something you will be happy with in 10 or 15 years.”

Stacey Condra, 1988, Tennis

Stacey Condra was won of only five all-state female athletes from the 1980s, and that came from hard work everyday.

“I practiced for about two hours each day, seven days a week,” said Condra.

After Condra graduated from FC, she attended the University of Alabama-Huntsville.

“I got a full tuition scholarship,” said Condra. “I played tennis and got my undergraduate. Then I got my masters degree in exercise physiology and went to medical school.

Since Condra graduated from medical school she has had the same job.

“I am an internal medicine physician,” said Condra. “After I did my residency I have worked in Louisville at Baptist Hospital.”

FC set Condra up for success immediately after graduating.

“FC did a good job of combining athletics and academics. After I graduated, I felt very prepared to go to college and get a job,” said Condra.

Advice to any student: “Find something that you are passionate about and do that.”

Ben Jackson, 1994, Shotput and Discus

Ben Jackson was all-state twice in discus, and once in shot put and holds FC’s record in both events.

“I won state in discus, and won nationals with AAU and U.S.A. track and field in discus the summer my senior year,” said Jackson.

After Jackson graduated, he went to Indiana University and threw shot put, discus, and the 35-pound hammer.

After Jackson graduated from Indiana, he began teaching P.E. at Utica Elementary school.

“My whole family are teachers, so I like the educational part, and I was most interested in athletics so I thought it was a perfect combination,” said Jackson.

FC has had several talented throwers since, but Jackson was the first really talented thrower.

“Once one person is successful, it attracts more people,” said Jackson. “Steven Hnat, he wasn’t the second talented FC thrower. He went on to U of L and threw very well at U of L. Then, [Codie] Hamsley came along and was very good.”

Jackson’s success in high school came at a price. He worked very hard, typically with his dad.

“I remember when Pat Graham spoke to my elementary school. He said he was in the gym in the summer when his friends would be swimming with their friends or on vacation, pay the price. It was kind of the same thing for me and my brother [C.J. Jackson]. My friends would go on spring break. I can remember going out to the field and throwing with my dad,” said Jackson.

Advice to any student: “What you put into it is what you get out of it.”

Jill Schuler, 1993, Track

Jill Schuler was an all-state champion, seven times in three sports. Cross country, track, and basketball, but she was most talented at cross country.

“I won six national championships in track and cross country, individually. I was on a team that won two national championships, and I was a high school All-American,” said Schuler.

After graduating, Schuler attended Ole Miss to run cross country and track.

When Schuler graduated, she worked for YUM brands for a little over a year. Now, she is the Director of Financial planning at Spencerian College.

Schuler is the only athlete in FC’s history to be All-State in three sports.

“Obviously I’m proud of everything that I have accomplished,” said Schuler. “But I also know that I have put in a lot of effort into it. My dad was my coach, and he was right there with me every step of the way and put a lot of time in with me.”

Advice to any student: “It is important to take it all seriously, but not too seriously. You have got to have fun too.”

Jeffrey Thompson, 2009, Baseball

Jeffrey Thompson is the only athletes the school has ever produced earn a living playing his sport. Thompson plays pro-baseball for the Erie SeaWolves, the double A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers, but was only all-state in football.

Thompson has enjoyed lots of success in both football and baseball throughout his career.

“My greatest achievement in high school was winning the sectionals in football. In baseball, it was the win against Vanderbilt my junior year in the the last game of the Super Regionals, so we could go to the College World Series,” said Thompson.

Thompson career at Louisville ended after losing the first two games of the College World Series, but he was third in career wins at U of L, fifth in career ERA, and fifth in career strikeouts.

“I was drafted in the third round in 2013 by the Detroit Tigers. I was talking to a couple teams in high school, but my parents were pretty set on me going to college and getting an education,” said Thompson. “Those couple of years at U of L really prepared me for the baseball lifestyle.”

“The minor leagues have been the opposite of what I expected. It has been a grind. But I wouldn’t change it for the World. I get to go play baseball everyday and hang out with my teammates a lot. I’m pretty much having for a job,” said Thompson.

Advice to any student: “Enjoy your time in high school, enjoy being young, and have fun hanging out with your friends.”
Melanie Stutsman, 2009, Volleyball

Melanie Stutsman was a two time all-state volleyball player and All-America, but that was not her greatest accomplishment.

“I went to state three years in a row, that was probably my greatest accomplishment,” said Stutsman.

When Stutsman graduated, he attended Western Kentucky University and played volleyball for four years.

After attending WKU, Stutsman worked at Highland Hills before coming to FC.

“I was an assistant in the Highland Hills PE department. I saw how much that fit my lifestyle because I love sports and athletics, and it just fit my personality,” said Stutsman.

Advice to any student: “Take high school seriously but have fun. Make sure you spend time with your friends.”

Codie Hamsley, 2013, Discus

Codie Hamsley was a two-time all-state athlete in discus, finishing second as a junior, and first as a senior.

“Coming into the state meet, I had a guy right on my tail. I threw 201 [feet] to advance, and he threw 200 [feet], so it was a battle.”

After winning state, Hamsley went to the University of Louisville to throw discus, but had his career cut short because of a shoulder injury.

Now, Hamsley is coaching shotput and discus for FC and working for Jarboe’s heating and air conditioning, but he has bigger plans for the future.

“I’m going to go back [to U of L] and finish my business and management degree. I want to either be the head coach of a college track team or own my own business.

Advice to any student: “Stay in the classroom and get your grades up. I didn’t have the best grades, and I regret that. Especially going into to college, grades are very important. For athletes, just put your head down and work all day.”

Olivia Boesing, Tennis, 2013

Olivia Boesing was all-state all four years she played tennis at FC, but her favorite sports achievement was not about herself.

“In 2013, we finished second in state, that was a very cool moment,” said Boesing.

After graduating from FC, Boesing went to the University of Louisville and played tennis for four years.

Now, Boesing has a job she has been wanting since she was a little kid.

“I’m a first grade teacher at Slate Run Elementary. Next year, I’ll be a fourth grade teacher at St. Barnabas Elementary in Indianapolis. I have always wanted to be a teacher. I love workin with kids and just being able to shape and mold them into the person God created them to be,” said Boesing.

Going to FC has made the past several years of Boesing’s life very easy.

“I think academically, FC puts you in a really good place going into college, and prepares you for jobs. Because of FC I haven’t had a tough time getting jobs because they set you up so well,” said Boesing.

Advice to any student: “Make sure school comes first. Athletics will eventually end, but athletes, make sure you work hard.”

Name Food Restaurant Movie/ TV show Vacation
Marilyn James Grilled Chicken Tucker’s Reality TV Florida
Jerry Hale Swiss Cheese Burger Vincenzo’s Hoosiers Beach with Family
Stacey Condra Ethnic foods Ramsi’s Cafe on the World Modern Family Italy
Pat Graham Chicken Wings Mr. B’s Chicago P.D. Cancún
Jill Schuler Mexican food Malone’s The Office Disney Cruise
Ben Jackson Pizza Qdoba Avengers Disney World
Melanie Stutsman Tacos El Nopal Grey’s Anatomy Mexico
Jeffrey Thompson Bar-B-Que Ribs The Seafood Lady Sportscenter Dominican Republic
Olivia Boesing Pickles Cheesecake Factory This is Us Hawaii
Codie Hamsley Steak Texas Roadhouse A Few Good Men University of Florida Invite

Column: The Yankees will win World Series

By JD McKay

The 162-game marathon is on and being a Yankees fan, I am excited to see The Giancarlos Stanton and Aaron Judge Show dominate baseball. But, as it is for most Americans, my excitement will wear down and I will be looking forward to the playoffs and All-Star break. So while excitement is still up for the season, I will tell you what will happen.

I expect some typical performances from teams. The Reds will finish last in their division, the Nationals will choke in the playoffs, and the Dodgers will find some other pitcher to go with Clayton Kershaw and have the best staff in baseball.

Now, for a few bold predictions. The Minnesota Twins will play in the ALCS. They had a surprisingly good season last year, and I expect them to build on their success. The Reds will lose 95 games, but Joey Votto will win NL MVP. He is one of the best hitters I will ever see. He consistently hits 320 and gets on base 45 percent of the time. Lastly, Shohei Ohtani will be overhyped and after the season be viewed as a bust. He is a rookie who has played in Japan for five years and finally took his talents to the MLB, but the MLB is not the Nippon Pro Baseball League, so it will take more than just one year to adjust to the MLB.

On to playoff predictions. The wildcard games will see the Red Sox beating the Blue Jays, and the Cardinals beating the Mets.

The Divisional Series will have the Yankees beating the Red Sox. Twins beating the Astros. Cubs beating the Cardinals and the Dodgers beating the Nationals.

The NLCS will have the Cubs playing the Dodgers for the second straight year, but with different results. The Cubs will beat the Dodgers to go to the World Series again.

The ALCS will have the Yankees playing the Twins and just like last year’s American League wildcard game, the Yankees will need to come back from a deficit but will end up winning the series.

The World Series will see two opposite teams playing each other. One team that has won 27 World Series and is hated by most Americans, pitted against The Lovable Losers, who won their third World Series over 100 years after their second championship. However, I will be one of the few people in Southern Indiana excited about the outcome of the series, as the Yankees will take World Series number 28 in Wrigley, almost 220 days since the Opening Day.

Column: How to fix Allstar games

By JD McKay

The NBA All-Star game is Sunday, which is a joke just like the NFL Pro Bowl and the other two major U.S. sport All-Star games (baseball, football, hockey), but other than Russell Westbrook none of the players really care. Which in turn makes me, the fan, not care either. But after watching the NFL Pro-Bowl about three weeks ago, I know that something needs to change.

The NHL All-Star game is a toughy. The NHL is the most violent sport already, so an exhibition game is not worth the risk to players. However, to make things more interesting, in 2016, the NHL made their game a four-team tournament, using their four divisions as teams and playing three-on-three rather than the typical six-on-six. They also have been using a skills challenge since 1990. The idea of the skills challenge is for players to show off their athletic abilities in events like speed skating, shot power, and shot accuracy. I like what the NHL has done to their All-Star game, and it is just too dangerous to get players out on the ice hitting for no reason in an exhibition.

The NFL Pro-Bowl is the worst. The players do not care at all, and the NFL is not really doing anything. Football obviously has a higher risk of injury than all of these except hockey, but the NFL can do different things to make the game more enjoyable for fans. One change has been made. Last year, the NFL added a skills challenge packed with dodgeball, an obstacle course, and best catches. But more can be done. If the players do not want to play a full pads game, they can go for a game of seven-on-seven football. The idea of seven-on-seven is all passing with only seven players per team, no lineman except for a center to snap the ball. The NFL could do a six team seven-on-seven tournament. The fans would vote in the players; then a middle linebacker and quarterback would be paired together. They would then draft their team.

The NBA game is all about the player attitudes. They do not care. Basketball can still be dangerous, but compared to football or hockey, it is much safer. If the players would be willing to play harder, it would be interesting. However, the players will not care until they have a real reason, a green reason. The NBA could promise bonuses to the players of the winning team, giving the players a reason to play to win.

Lastly, the MLB is one of the most watchable games. It is a typical baseball game, but pitchers pitch for two innings, tops. They could stay as it is, or to make this a little for interesting, pick four celebrities to pick teams with players voted on by fans. The team would play a three-inning game, tournament style. The other change the MLB should make is a true skills challenge, they have a home run derby, but they do not have a legit skills challenge like the other sports. They could do an outfielder’s accuracy and far throw contest, a pitch speed contest, and stick with the homerun derby.

Those sports all need to make a change. Baseball’s change is relatively small, and hockey’s may just be too dangerous, but football and basketball need to change. Hopefully, they will, but I am not really expecting it.

Column: Rookies usher in new baseball era

By JD McKay

After 162 games, a week of awards, and a great postseason the Major League Baseball season is over. The Astros finally won a World Series, Aaron Judge had the greatest rookie season of all time, and home runs hit an all-time high. Plus, my Yankees look like they will be a powerhouse for the next 10 years. The Yankee’s potential inspired me to predict next year’s results.

Offseason transactions haven’t started, but as of Nov. 22 next year’s World Series will see the Yankees beating the Cubs in six games. The Cubs will need to add one pitcher to be able to beat the Dodgers and be back to truly being World Series contenders. The Yankees have one of the highest MLB payrolls and a farm system stuffed with talent, just waiting for the players to mature enough to be MLB caliber.

The Astros and Yankees will become baseball’s newest playoff rival. Yearly we will see Judge vs George Springer and Gary Sanchez vs José Altuve. The National League doesn’t look like any two teams will be like the Yankees and Astros.

Until Clayton Kershaw retires, the Dodgers will also be a dominant team in the NL. The only team that can truly compete with them as of right now is a healthy Nationals team. Unfortunately, they are never heath and like to choke in the postseason.

Now to last season. In case you missed it, the World Series was spectacular. Once again, home runs were hit at an all time high, 25 homeruns were hit in the series, and eight in Game 2.

This season, Judge hit 52 home runs and Giancarlo Stanton hit 59. Both guys are 6’6” or taller and the tallest position players in the MLB. Plus, rookie Cody Bellinger hit 39 home runs and only played three quarters of the season. Edinson Volquez threw the only no hitter and Madison Bumgarner, a pitcher, hit two home runs on opening day.

Speaking of rookies, Bellinger and Judge were unanimous Rookies of the Year, and Judge was second in the AL MVP votes. Altuve won the AL MVP by 150 points. The NL MVP was much closer. Stanton’s incredible second half of the season made him MVP, two points over Reds future Hall of Famer Joey Votto. The Twins manager Paul Molitor won 85 games and made the playoffs after 103 losses the year before.

All in all, this was an incredible MLB season. The Yankee’s young stars arrived and started a new Yankees dynasty a few years early. The World Series went to seven games and saw several extra innings. We also saw the Astros finally reach the mark they have been trying reach for several years. The 2017 baseball was a season of surprise and home runs. Hopefully the upcoming 2018 season will be as spectacular.

Softball, baseball teams wear pink last week in support of breast cancer awareness