Speaking of Sports filled with accomplishments, changes and noteworthy moments
By Jim Turner


Posted on July 5, 2015 10:34 PM



When Ryan Harper helped his Lindsey Wilson College baseball team reach the NAIA World Series this spring, he shared a special bond with his younger brother Matt on a level that it’s difficult to remember any other local family matching.

Matt Harper, who finished his senior season at Logan County High School this year and is headed to Spaulding College to join his former LCHS teammate Ian Woodall on the baseball team. Matt and Ian were members of the 2009 Logan County Little League which played in the Little League World Series

So the two sons of Jeff Harper and Christy Burton Harper Barnette have both played in a World Series at the top tier of their age group. Very impressive!

Add to that their mother being a key guard on the 1989 Lady Cougar team which won their first regional championship for Coach Mike Haynes.

I’ve tried to think of family links of that magnitude. Here are some remarkable achievements;

*Joseph Jefferson of Logan County holds the record as the highest NFL draft pick in WKU history and his sister, former Lady Cougar star post player Lora Spencer, became a starter for the UK Lady Cats.

*The late Earle Shelton played in the NIT basketball finals at Madison Square Garden at a time the NIT may have been more prestigious than the NCAA tournament. His great-granddaughter Griffin Joiner has ended a great career playing softball as a four-year starter for the University of Kentucky and is now playing professional softball.

*Ken Barrett coached Russellville football to three state championships and his grandson, Barrett Croslin, was a member of that Little League World Series team.

*Stewart Wheeler was on Russellville’s state championship golf team and one of his sons, Brian Wheeler, won the regional championship.

*Tim Smith was the kicker and a receiver on the first state championship football team at RHS and his daughter, Aeron Smith, led Greenwood to an undefeated state softball championship.

*Charles Hampton was the starting fullback for Russellville's 1980 state championship team. His son, Maurice 'Squeaky' Hampton, was a star of Russellville's two Final Four basketball team and became All-Pro while playing in Europe.

The closest thing I can come up with, though, also happened this year. John Logan Dockins was a member of a team in that same NAIA World Series. In fact, his Faulkner University squad finished third.

Meanwhile his sister, Lee Dockins, was inducted as a charter member of the Logan County Athletic Foundation Hall of Fame in February. She’s headed to her third Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles later this month.

It also should be noted that their older brother, Frank Harris Dockins, was a recipient of the Kentucky High School Athletic Association Game Guy Award during the Cougars’ 2001 season. He had returned to the playing field after having received a kidney transplant from their mother, Sharon Dockins, who is a former Miss National Teenager herself.

The KHSAA doesn’t give that award every year, but LCHS athletes received two in a short time. The other went to Sonny Gloyd, who came back from cancer to play football again.

Incidentally, Frank Harris had had another kidney transplant this year when the one he had received over a decade earlier was failing. This one seems to be a complete success. He stayed with his parents, Sharon and Harris Dockins, for several weeks but is back at work in Nashville and is feeling better than he had in many years.

You can add to this Frank Harris’ and John Logan’s uncle, Dave Dockins, scored points for Coach Floyd Burnsed’s state championship track team at RHS in 1975. They wouldn’t have won the state without him.

If you have a suggestion of a family where two or more members have gone to the top, please let me know.

Additionally, I’ve been trying to think of a situation comparable to former LCHS teammates Dockins and Harper being in the same World Series. My answer to that one is Bubba Wells & Otis Key, who were classmates and teammates on Russellville’s 1992 regional finalist basketball team and also teammates for three years at Austin Peay, both becoming members of the Harlem Globetrotters. What are the odds of two guys the same age from a Class A sized school both becoming members of the world’s most famous sports team?

The LoJo

One other World Series note:

Chris Taylor, who was Logan County’s second-ever quarterback and is one of the best pitchers the Cougars ever produced, played in the National Baseball Congress World Series between his junior and senior years while pitching for APSU.. It was the third largest amateur tournament next to the college World Series and the Olympics.

“We played in Wichita, Kan. All we did was play ball and sign autographs,” he recalls. “We played four games and I started pitching in three of them. I won two and had a no decision in third. We lost to the champion Wichita team which was the majority of Wichita State’s players at that time.”

Chris and his younger brother Jeff Taylor had lots of success. In addition to being a good football player, Jeff was a key pitcher for Coach David Billingsley’s 1989 baseball team which made it to the state quarterfinals. Like Chris, he became a pitcher for APSU.

Their mom, Norma Taylor, is a retired teacher at LCHS and their dad, Mac Taylor, is retired as head of maintenance for the entire Logan County School District. Mac hasn’t been well lately and we wish him improved health.

And another baseball note: The best way to get people to read and Like a story on The LoJo is to put the name Caleb Bruner in the headline. Our most recent story about his being named a first-team Louisville Slugger All-American has drawn well over 700 “Likes”, which probably is a record.

His popularity reminds me of the days when Tommy Wilkins was playing football for Russellville and then became two-time captain of the Kentucky Wildcats. People were always dropping his name, things like, “I was talking with Tommy Wilkins the other day and…”

I once wrote that Wilkins was our answer to stockbroker E.F. Hutton. There was a popular line in the Hutton advertisements then which said, “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen.”

Caleb is starting a second-term summer class at WKU. He already has 18 college hours that he earned while at LCHS, but he has to be enrolled in a class to be able to work out with the university’s baseball team, his parents, Chris and Jenny Bruner, report. So he’s taking an online course.

New Topper head coach John Pawlowski tells Zach Greenwell of the Daily News that he will work with pitchers himself. Bruner was named a utility player on the All-American team because he not only is an outstanding pitcher but an excellent fielder and hitter. Chances are, though, that WKU will look at him primarily as a pitcher.

Pawlowski is a former head coach at Auburn University and the College of Charleston.

The LoJo

Some coaching news:

*Tim Riley, who most certainly will be in the KHSAA Hall of Fame someday for his coaching of Warren Central to a state championship, a state runner-up slot, and a Final Four appearance a decade ago, has accepted the head coaching position at Owensboro Catholic High School.

The last two years he has been coaching Springfield High in Tennessee where he returned that program to its winning ways.

His dad, retired LCHS/Chandlers teacher Doug Riley, says Tim will live at least part of each week in Owensboro and that he and his wife Pam will probably move there when it works out with Pam’s teaching career.

Tim, who will be dean of students, can still draw his retirement from public schools in Kentucky and work at a private school.

Their son Brad is a student manager and valuable to that program. When Ben Howland, who knew success as coach at UCLA and Pittsburgh, took over the Mississippi State program in late March, he retained Riley as the top manager.

Tim Riley worked the MSU camp for Howland this summer.

*Todd Steward, who was the girls basketball and softball coach at Warren Central many of the years that Riley was the boys basketball coach, has a new honor. “WCHS has begun an award for the senior class and named it in my honor: The Todd Steward Male and Female Outstanding Senior Athletes. They will give it annually and I am very honored,” the Olmstead High School graduate tells The LoJo.

Todd’s wife Jill teaches at Lewisburg School. He is the son of Ruby Steward of Logan County.

*The coach Riley left Central to assist on the college level, Mary Taylor Cowles, is in a new role. She has been named head women’s coach at one of Tennessee’s top private schools, Ensworth in the Bellevue area of Nashville.wi

Coach Cowles’ daughter, Caroline, has been a key player for South Warren. She will be a junior.

In 10 seasons as Lady Toppers head coach at WKU where she was an outstanding player, Cowles compiled a 199-119 record. She has been helping coach South Warren and was principal of Warren County alternative schools last year.

“Mary’s coaching success at the Division I level, her commitment to her children and their academics, and her impeccable reputation made her the ideal candidate for this position,” Ensworth athletic director Ricky Bowers said in a statement. Bowers, who was the point guard on Coach Don Meyer’s 1986 national champion team at Lipscomb University, has built a tremendous overall athletic program at Ensworth.

*A former Cougar is moving to South Bend, Ind. because of coaching, but he won’t be coaching the Irish. Eric Capps is the former Cougar football player. His wife, Katie Wulf Capps, is the new Director of Basketball Operation at the University of Notre Dame. She has been associated with the women’s basketball program at the University of Kansas for 11 years.

Notre Dame is one of the premier women’s basketball programs. Coach Muffet McGraw’s team has reached the women’s championship game four of the past five season. The other year their conference partner, Louisville, was runner-up.

Katie was a four-year letter winner for Coach Cowles at WKU and served as a graduate assistant on the Hill before heading to the Midwest.

At Notre Dame, Capps will be responsible for coordinating team travel, working closely with the Fighting Irish coaching staff on preparation and distribution of recruiting materials, planning and coordination of all on-campus recruiting weekends and oversee the program's groundbreaking social media efforts. Capps also will supervise the Fighting Irish student managers, coordinate the popular Notre Dame women's basketball summer camps, and help organize the program's numerous community engagement projects.

"Katie is exceptionally talented and will be a valuable addition to our staff," McGraw said. "She has a great deal of experience with the operational side of women's basketball, and she brings energy, passion and fresh ideas to our program. I'm looking forward to having her on board and I think our fans will see a renewed connection with our program."

She and Eric married in 2005, and they have three sons, Charlie, 7, and 5-year-old twins Harrison and Winston.

As Katie became acclimated to the Notre Dame program and campus, Eric and the boys remained in Eureka, Kan., preparing for the move.

Eric is a rockstar husband/dad!” Katie wrote. “He has been taking care of our boys and house for five weeks by himself while I get things rolling in South Bend. Not many guys can do that!”

*When Brandy Nuyt Trimble decided to leave Russellville softball to become head coach at her alma mater, LCHS, it was a disappointment for the city schools, much like it was when Marshall Kemp resigned as superintendent of the Russellville schools to return home as Logan County superintendent.

Yet many of us believe that an ideal replacement is already on board for Russellville softball. Calvin Head, who already serves as athletic director and girls basketball coach, was close to the team this year and attended many of their games. He previously served as boys basketball coach and softball coach at the same time at his alma mater, Todd Central.

*Speaking of Todd Central, Robbie Weathers, who has been boys basketball coach at Todd County Middle School, has accepted a position on the coaching staff at Hopkins County Central. His son, Clayte Weathers, will go with him and be a student at the school where he is expected to be a good addition to the basketball and baseball teams.

Coach Weathers’ wife/Clayte’s mom, Melissa Weathers, will remain at Todd County where she heads the food services program. Melissa was one of the first key players when RHS started softball. She is the daughter of Jan and Rodney Seay of Russellville.

Their daughter Jordan will remain in the Todd County system where she is a young athlete. “It is sad that Robbie and Clayte will be leaving boys they love, but doors close and doors open and God is in control. So, come this fall it will be ‘Go Rebels’ for Jordan and ‘Go Storm’ for Clayte,” Melissa says.

*Gerald Sinclair, headcoach of Logan’s 1984 state champion boys basketball team, has a serious medical issue and his friends are worried about him. On his birthday, his top assistant on that team, Barry Reed, along with then-Athletic Director Bob Birdwhistell, shooting guard on that squad Tim Thomason, andBarry’s wife Margie Reed were among those who traveled to Clarksville to visit Gerald and his wife, former LCHS teacher Joyce Sinclair.

If you would like to send a card to Coach Sinclair, his address is Gerald Sinclair, 915 Windsor St., Clarksville, Tenn.  37043.

*Not exactly a coaching position, but former LCHS team physician Dr. Umar Khan, a sports medicine specialist with experience at the highest professional and collegiate levels, has been added to the Western Kentucky University team physician’s group

Dr. Khan worked with Logan sports, especially football, as part of a contract the school had with Orthopedics Plus. Dr.  Khan completed his Sports Medicine Fellowship at the prestigious Andrews Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Center/American Sports Medicine Institute in Birmingham, Ala., home to renowned sports physician Dr. James Andrews.  

Prior to coming to WKU, Dr. Khan assisted Dr. Andrews covering the NFL’s Washington Redskins. He was also an associate team physician for the University of Alabama and West Alabama under the supervision of Dr. Lyle Cain.

The LoJo

This fall, former Lady Cougar volleyball great Rachyl Miller is expected to contend to be the starting setter for Asbury University in Wilmore, Ky. The Eagles had the best regular season record (37-9) in the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference last year.

Miller was Fourth Region Player of the Year in 2013 while leading Coach Steven Lyne’s to a state quarterfinalist berth.

She played mostly JV last year for Asbury, but she was thrilled about her experience because she got to be a part of the team’s mission trip before the college season began.

My college career began with an annual mission trip the volleyball team participates in. We traveled to Naco Sonora, Mexico to the Casa Hogar Emanuel orphanage. While there we stayed at the orphanage and spent our days cleaning, painting, distributing food to the local community, and playing with the resident children,” she tells The LoJo.

The opportunity to go as a team and spend time with my future teammates while serving God was a great chance to bond together as a team before the season began.”

Coach J.P. Raider’s Eagles will go on another international mission trip in August, and Miller is excited about the prospects.

The LoJo

In honor of this Fourth of July weekend’s World Cup championship by the USA Women’s team (long live Carli Lloyd, Hope Solo, Abby Wambach, Alex Morgan and Christine Rampone), a couple of local soccer notes plus a wish:

*Former RHS cheerleader Shelly Smith Dillard is in the British Isles this week. Her daughter, Tori Dillard, is playing soccer with her Centre College teammates during the preseason. It’s Tori’s second international soccer trip of the summer. She played with the NAIA national team in Brazil earlier. The Olympics will be played next year in Brasil (Sorry, Spellcheck, but that’s how it’s spelled there.)

*Andy Walker, who is in his first year as minister of Crittenden Drive Church of Christ and will celebrate his 35th birthday Monday, is a former captain of the Freed-Hardeman University soccer team.

*The wish: May this renewed national interest in women’s soccer prove to be a recruiting tool for Coach Dan Duncan’s Logan County girls soccer team and Coach Jonathan White’s Russellville co-ed soccer squad.

 




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