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.”
||Movie/ TV show
||Swiss Cheese Burger
||Beach with Family
||Ramsi’s Cafe on the World
||The Seafood Lady
||This is Us
||A Few Good Men
||University of Florida Invite