Tag Archives: JD McKay

Girls’ basketball plays Jeff tonight in Sectionals

Photo by Brooke Miller

Story by J.D. McKay

For the first time in over two years, my column is not coming out on a Wednesday. But, I wanted to publish it the morning of the first girls’ basketball sectional game. 

For anyone out of the girls’ basketball loop, we have struggled this year. There are three main reasons for that problem. 

One is injuries. It is tough to be really good when your best players cannot play, and one of the Highlanders best players, junior Grace Suer, has been out for nearly the whole season. 

The next kind of goes along with it, youth. When a team loses playes to injuries, they have to play younger players. That is not always a bad thing, but when there is only one senior on the team, it can be tough. The young players have definitely improved, but it is hard to replicate the experience and pressure an experienced player is used to. 

The last problem is height. For some reason, just about every small school that we play had at least one girl over 6’ 1”. Some, like Providence, had three. We have freshman Callie Jo Celichowski, who is a sixth or seventh player on the bench who has played a decent role this year. Then our other post player is Laney Siewert, who is about 5’ 7”.

Anyway, we have had a tough season, but the regular season does not really matter come sectionals. Tonight, they have a chance against Jeff, who they lost to earlier this year. However, Jeff lost their best player, senior Nan Garcia, to a season-ending injury, so things could be different. As usual, I will be giving my three keys to success to get the job done. 

Hit shots: This one is kind of obvious, but we need shots to fall. Anyone who has been to the last months of games can confirm that at times it has seemed like there has been a lid

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Sophomore Kendall Brown and freshman Mandy Hess discuss the upcoming defensive series after a time out. Photo by Brock Kennedy

on the basket. One of the team’s best shooters, sophomore Kendall Brown, has been struggling more than most. However, she is a good enough shooter that if she hits a three early to break out of her slump, she could drop 15 points from beyond the arc. Plus, as she pulls more defense towards her, it should open up freshman Mandy Hess, who seems to be the most consistent through this slump. All in all, there are some pretty good shooters on the team, but almost all of them are struggling right now. If one or two can hit some shots early, then it should be a win. 

Lock down post defense: Last Thursday, we lost to Providence. Providence had the best player I have watched the whole year in senior Natalie Boesing. She played more aggressively than usual and she was their main post player. The team did a pretty good job of stopping her. Unfortunately, she still had over 20 points but somewhere between 10 and 15 of those were free throws. Very few post players get to the line like that in girls’ basketball, so if they can keep Jeff’s post players at 4-6 points points, they should be able to win. 

Defensive rebound: If I remember correctly, many of Jeff’s points from earlier this year came from offensive rebounds and put backs. So If we can keep them off the offensive glass, that will be good. However, if they do get offensive boards, making their big men kick it out will have a big impact as well. 

Bottom Line: As I said above, the ladies have struggled this year. However, they have shown flashes late in the year of what they could do. If they get shots to drop, they would be pretty dangerous in sectionals. An eventual matchup against Bedford will be tough, but if shots start dropping, anything can happen. However, they have to get there first, but I am taking the Highlanders to get through at least one round in sectionals. Final Score: FC 45- Jeff 38

Fall Sports wrap-up

Photo by Brock Kennedy

Story by J.D. McKay

Well, it snowed yesterday and I still have not written my fall sports wrap-up yet. So, even though football is still playing, it is time. 

Girls’ golf had a successful season as they always do. They won sectionals and got sixth at regionals. Junior Halleigh Cullins won, and senior Sydney Juliot got first and second. Sophomore Sophia Cook also tied for third. Cook led the team at regionals with an 80. This year, they won their eleventh sectional in the past 12 years, and their seventh straight. 

Boys’ and girls’ cross country also continued their success. They both won conference before moving on to the IHSAA post season. There, both teams won sectionals and regionals, before both finishing third at semi-state and 19th at state. The girls’ top runner was Sydney Liddle, who finished 51st. The boys’ top runner was senior Luke Heinemann, who finished 82nd. Throughout the season, they won other big meets like the Tiger Run at St. X. Including the post season, the boys won six races and the girls won six races. 

Boys’ soccer struggled at times this year, but that often is shown when you play strong competition, which the boys did. They play five strong Louisville schools and ended up losing four and tying one. However, at the end of their season they upset Columbus North in sectionals before losing to Columbus East, who lost in semi-state, in the sectional championship. 

The girls’ soccer team went a little further than the boys did. The girls won sectionals this year, as well as winning conference. They won the Hoosier Cup Tournament in early September. Last season, senior Katie Yankey was all-state as a junior. This year, she was injured for most of the year, but senior Audrey Brumfield has a good shot to be all-state. 

Boys’ tennis is another of the three teams to make semi-state. They won conference again, sectionals again, and regionals again. They also had a big win early in the season against North Central. They eventually lost to Columbus North in semi-state.

Volleyball had a slow start to their season but got it rolling as they went along. Several of those games were against good teams like Sacred Heart and Providence. Providence finished the year ranked 24th in the country, and Sacred Heart was ranked fourth in Kentucky. However, as they got some momentum, they won conference, and 13 of their last 15 going into sectionals. They got a tough sectional draw and had to play Providence again. However, they gave the Pioneers a scare by taking the first set, but the Pioneers won the last three. 

The last sport I am coming to is football. Football is still playing after winning sectionals for the first time in 10 years Friday night against Jeff. We are the sixth team to win nine games in a season and have a chance to be the first to get past regionals and third to win 10 in a season. But we also have two losses, one to Columbus East, and one to Louisville Male, who is ranked second in Kentucky and will probably win state in 6A. Friday, the Highlanders are playing at Bloomington South, who is very talented, on the road. If they win, they will be playing semi-state at home.

 

It is time to start seeding sectionals

Photo by Brock Kennedy

Story by J.D. McKay

Of the sports associations I pay attention to — NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, NCAA, and IHSAA — IHSAA is probably the most well run. I cannot recall a time where I heard that they laid out a significant ruling on a team for next to nothing like the NCAA just did to Mary Hardin-Baylor, who recently had their 2016 championship revoked because a coach allowed a football player to use his car. 

The IHSAA rule most often criticized is the transfer rule. To explain it in one sentence, if a player wants to transfer the athletic director must sign off that he or she can play at the school they are transferring to. I do not have any problems with this rule. However, I do see three noticeable flaws in the IHSAA. 

One is that not all sports are classed and I already wrote a column about that (read here https://wordpress.com/view/fchsbagpiper.wordpress.com), and the other is that not all deserving athletes can make the state tournament in individual sports (read here https://wordpress.com/view/fchsbagpiper.wordpress.com). The third is that the IHSAA does not seed team sports. 

So, it is possible that next year New Albany and Jeff could be top five or even the top two basketball teams on the state. Then, when sectionals roll around in March, if their ping pong balls roll out first, they could be playing each other on a Tuesday night in Seymour. That would be the most anticlimactic way for a game of that caliber to go down, and I think most of my readers would agree that it should not be that way. 

This year, there was an unlucky draw that affected our volleyball team a little bit. They have Providence, a top 25 volleyball team in the country, in their sectional. Providence should have had one of the byes as well as New Albany, because they beat us in the regular season. Then, we would have probably played Seymour before playing New Albany. However, we got the bye and will be facing the winner of Providence and Jennings County. Had that sectional been seeded, we probably would have gotten another shot at New Albany and maybe one more game for our seniors. 

Supporters of the blind draw would say that sometimes you just need to play with the cards you have been dealt and suck it up. However, if that is the case, some coaches could not play regular season with the intention of winning. If they had a really good team that had almost no depth, they could play their studs for a quarter, then put in the JV to avoid injuring the stars until the postseason. I am not saying I view it like this, but in the right situation it might make sense. 

As I have made clear, the solution to this is seeding. It makes sense to have the team with the best record against other sectional teams to play the worst team first and to play both games at home. Sectionals where the teams do not play each other could be a problem. However, the tournament makes could compare their records, and records against teams that teams several of the teams in the section have played. If that does not solve the problem, the IHSAA could look at total points scored and points allowed to make their seedings. 

There are a few situations where it would not make sense to just give home field to the top team, though. For example, it makes sense to play basketball sectionals at Seymour because they have one of the biggest high school gyms in the world. Those could be decided by the IHSAA and, if needed, the teams in the sectional.

Some times, the ball does role in your favor and fixes seeding on its own. Football was 3-0 in the regular season against three sectional teams that are all pretty good. So, FC gets the team with the worst record, Bedford at home and the winner of Jeff versus New Albany at home. Plus, Jeff beat New Albany in the regular season, so it makes sense that they have home field advantage against the Dogs. It should make for an interesting November at Ron Weigleb Stadium. 

And, while I am mentioning football sectionals, come out and support the Highlanders on Nov. 1 against Bedford.

 

Summer begins with interesting sports

By JD McKay

Summer break is finally here, and with it comes the worst two months in sports. Be prepared for one third of each baseball team’s regular season and Wimbledon starting at 4 a.m. in early July.  

However, the first week gives sports fans some hope. The Cleveland Cavaliers will be playing the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. This series will not be close. The Cavs haven’t had anything going besides Lebron James this postseason. The Warriors will take care of business in four, putting them in a class with the other great NBA teams.

The Las Vegas Golden Knights in their inaugural season are playing the Washington Capitals in the Stanley Cup Finals. The Knights have been a team made up of mostly scrubs from previous teams. However, when they play together, they are obviously playing very well and have a chance to win a championship in their first season. I think they will finish their magical run and win the Stanley Cup in six games.

This is my last column of this school year. I have enjoyed writing this and will be back to publishing my weekly sports columns starting August 1, the first Wednesday of next school year.

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