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LaRue County senior Ivy Brown had an idea once the first sentence was read about the Female Athlete of the Year it was about her, while North Hardin senior Stephanie Thomas didn’t have an inkling she was the Community Service Award winner until the description of acuities.
Brown and Thomas were among the Select Preps winners during Friday’s banquet at First Christian Church. This was the third installment of Select Preps, which was launched by The News-Enterprise in 2012 to recognize the total package of student-athletes. It encompasses what a student-athlete does in the classroom and the community as well as in athletics.
The Select Preps program began with two guest speakers – Winter Olympian Dallas Robinson and Western Kentucky football coach Jeff Brohm – before honoring students in 22 sports and then capping the evening with seven specialty awards.
The most prestigious honors were the Female and Male Athlete of the Year, which included a $500 college scholarship provided by the newspaper.
Brown excelled on the basketball and volleyball courts as well as the classroom, where she has a 3.67 grade point average. She was named Miss Basketball in Kentucky after 24.4 points and 12.6 rebounds this season. Brown, who signed with Western Kentucky to play basketball, helped the Lady Hawks to the 5th Region Tournament in both sports.
“It means a lot to me,” Brown said. “Someone said something about it not being like Miss Basketball, but all awards mean a lot, this one especially. I try to be an all-around person, so all the hard work has paid off.”
John Hardin senior Patrick Anderson was named the top male athlete, carrying a 3.87 GPA along with volunteering with Feeding America, Warm Blessings and Goodwill. The dual-sport star led the Bulldogs to the Class 5-A state football semifinals, passing for more than 1,100 yards and 15 touchdowns. Anderson, who signed with Florida Tech to play basketball, averaged 17 points and 4.9 assists to guide John Hardin to the region semifinals after back-to-back appearances in the Sweet 16.
“I’ve never coached a player with more character than Patrick Anderson,” former John Hardin coach Mark Wells said. “After each practice, Patrick thanks me and my staff for working with him and he's done so for four years. He truly cares for others and shows it each day.”
Thomas has been active in the community, to say the least. She has participated in the school’s day of community service, Feeding America, Taste of Radcliff, Rineyville Elementary School's after-school program as well as field day at the school. Thomas also has volunteered at the Clothing Closet and Hardin Memorial Hospital in the physical therapy department and in the administration office. She has worked in the Optimist Park concession stand and helped host academic team competitions at Rineyville Elementary School, too.
“It’s amazing because it shows you can help your community and make a difference,” said Thomas, who has a 3.8 GPA and plans to attend the University of Kentucky. “It really is an indescribable feeling. It shows how you should be as an overall player.”
Fort Knox senior Robert Bell was given the Academic Achievement Award. Although he played football, baseball and tennis, Bell has a 4.15 GPA and is a National Merit Finalist. He plans to attend Northwestern University to study physics.
It was a special night for the Mudd family as Tim, the girls’ basketball coach at Elizabethtown, was named the Extra Mile Coach of the Year and daughter Kinsey, a senior, was selected the Comeback Student-Athlete of the Year. Kinsey, who has a 3.95 GPA and plans to attend Western Kentucky, has cystic fibrosis, an autosomal recessive genetic disorder which mainly affects the lungs and limited her time on the court the two previous seasons. This year, the Lady Panthers went 32-5 and reached the state championship game.
“It was a good night,” Tim Mudd said. “We’ve seen all she’s been through during her high school years. She played a big role this year, so we’re very appreciative.
“Honestly, it was very surprising,” he added. “I didn’t expect to win anything. I was there to support my daughter. I’ve been blessed and fortunate to have great players and the best assistant coaches.”
This was the first year of the Athletic Director of the Year award, which was given to LaRue County’s David Dawson. He is a support system for LaRue County coaches and a big proponent of recognizing student-athletes’ achievements. A big user of social media, Dawson is constantly on Facebook or Twitter to give game updates and recognize players for awards they receive.
“I really wasn’t expecting it, but it’s a nice surprise and one I’m very appreciative of,” Dawson said. “It’s all about the student-athletes. I’m there for them. It’s rewarding to see them win games, win events or win awards like tonight. It’s my pleasure to play a small role in it.”
Among the 22 award winners for individual sports, Elizabethtown had six winners – Austin Bush (boys’ cross country); Hannah Godfrey (girls’ cross country); Ryan Harris (boys’ golf); Madeline Vittitow (girls’ golf); Haley Jones (girls’ soccer); and Megan Meek (volleyball).
Central Hardin was second with five winners – Jacob Barnes (boys’ basketball); Mary Zeitler (girls’ bowling); Tim Whitehouse (boys’ swimming); Kevin Britt (boys’ tennis); and Ashlee O’Brien (girls’ tennis).
Anderson’s twin sister, Patricia, won the cheerleading award, while Zacchea Small (girls’ basketball), Sean Stevens (boys’ bowling) and Alexis Legaspi (girls’ swimming) also won awards.
Three schools had two selections each. Dylon Hedgespeth (baseball) and Peyton Gardner (softball) won from LaRue County, Kevin Dyer (football) and Jake Burroughs (wrestling) from North Hardin and Cameron Pellegrino (boys’ track) and Emily Kiphuth (girls’ track) from Fort Knox. North Hardin Christian’s Josh Siekman won the boys’ soccer award.
All the Select Preps award winners and award sponsors will be featured in a special section to be published Friday in The News-Enterprise.
Chuck Jones can be reached at 270-505-1759 or firstname.lastname@example.org.