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It was indeed a great night to be a Tiger, the theme that began with the first inductee Jim Carty through the final presentation to honor Dr. William H. Crouch, Jr., this past Saturday at the 2013 Athletic Hall of Fame.
Carty, Kent Garrett, Jessica Leonard, Elizabeth Brown McHale and John Owen make 83 inductees through 16 years. Georgetown added the 1989 women's basketball team to the previous 11 teams already in the Hall of Fame and Bob Tripure became the sixth distinguished alum.
"We have so many people that deserve this as you look back over our outstanding history in athletics," said associate athletic director Austin Sparks. "Fortunately, we have a great committee that takes this very seriously and each year we have another fabulous class of inductees."
Former athletes as well as former and current coaches and staff members represent a group that meets several times on Saturday mornings throughout the year to pour over nominations, submitted by filling out the online form under the Hall of Fame tab on the web site. Candidates are then presented and through ballots everyone casts their votes.
This year's class represented the rich tradition Georgetown has in football, men's basketball and volleyball as well as inducting the first women's soccer player.
"I look forward to coming back to these banquets over the years as we see more of our women's soccer team members honored," said McHale, who was also women's soccer's first-ever NAIA All-American.
The induction portion of the evening started with Carty, a 1976 graduate and football standout. In his senior season he led the team with 85 tackles and was second in interceptions. He was a three-time NAIA District 24 Player of the Week in 1974. He was two-time NAIA District 24 All-Star. His senior year he was named one of the best college football players and was considered a late-round draft pick by the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles.
Garrett, also a standout member of the Georgetown football team, was one of the formable players that came with Coach Kevin Donley from Anderson College in the mid-80s to set the foundation of the current successful program. With the transfer, Garrett had to sit out a season, but was looked to as a leader and teacher almost immediately. Donley spoke of his ability to help with the transition and in his first season of eligibility Georgetown went for 2-9 the season before to a 7-3 record.
Garrett was All-Heartland Conference and NCAA AFCA Second Team All-American in his senior season.
Leonard, a standout in volleyball, helped to re-write an already phenomenal record book during her four years at Georgetown. The four-year starter was three-time MSC All-Conference and two-time NAIA All-Region. Her senior year, Leonard was named to the NAIA All-American Third Team. She is still the leader in kills per season with 767 and third in the same category with 715. She had three seasons of average kills per game that still ranks her in the Top 10 – 4.76 (third), 4.55 (fifth) and 4.41 (ninth). She is on the top of the list for total attacks in a season with 1,797. For her career, she is tied for ninth in games played (560), tied for second in kills (2,265) and third in attacks (5,216).
McHale, a 2003 Summa Cum Laude graduate, became the first women's soccer player in the Hall of Fame. She was four-time MSC All-Conference, 2002 NAIA All-Region and 2002 NAIA All-American honorable mention status.
Owen, transferred into Georgetown as well after earning a scholarship to play at the University of Kentucky. He spent two and a half years guiding the Tigers, despite initially being seen by then coach Bob Davis as not strong enough to play at Georgetown.
"My first assessment of John was that he was probably not tough enough to play college basketball and was coming to Georgetown just to get his theology process started," Davis said. "He didn't let the 'preacher' misconception stand long, as I had to break up several internal fights. He proved his toughness and quickly became a leader."
Owen is still 21st all-time in scoring with 1,463 points. The lefty was fifth when he graduated. He helped Georgetown to wins 70 percent of the time and led the team in scoring and averaged 10 rebounds per game. He was KIAC Most Valuable Player, KIAC First Team All-Conference, NABC District 3 All-American, NAIA District 24 First Team and Kentucky College All-Star. He was also a team captain his senior year and received the L.R. Cooke Award for Character, Scholarship, Citizenship and Athletic Skill.
Tripure, a 1962 graduate, was recognized for his work in athletics beyond his days at Georgetown. He is one of the most successful coaches in Kentucky High School History. From 1964-99, he served as assistant and head coach for Henry Clay High School and Lexington Catholic. As head coach of the Blue Devils' baseball team, he guided the program to 582 wins, 10 district championships, four region titles and a 1973 State Championship. In 1998, he was inducted into the Kentucky High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
He was equally successful on the hardwood, and most notably he guided two different schools to state titles. As head girls' coach at Henry Clay, he helped the Lady Blue Devils to 251 wins with just 44 losses in nine years. Henry Clay won eight district titles, seven consecutive region titles and the state title in 1990. He retired in 1993, but returned to coaching girls at Catholic in 1995. In five seasons, the Lady Knights were 133-28 with his second state title in 1999. In his 55 years of coaching, Tripure never had a team finish with a losing record and is the only coach to have won state titles at two different schools in boys' or girls'. In 2009, he was inducted into the Dawahare's KHSAA Hall of Fame and in 2011 into the Henry Clay High School Hall of Fame.
The team that was inducted launched the women's basketball program onto the national scene with the school's first-ever appearance in the NAIA national tournament. The 1988-89 team was 21-11, beating archrival Campbellsville University, 83-77, in the District 32 finals.
"We trailed 16 at halftime," said then coach Susan Johnson. "We had already lost to them twice that year, but this group would not be denied. They rallied for the win and put us into the national tournament."
At that time, the NAIA was all one division and the women's tournament was played at higher-seeds for first rounds. The Tigers loaded up the vans and traveled to Tri-State. Unfortunately, while packing, the team forgot uniforms. Tri-State helped out by loaning Georgetown its road outfits.
Confusion aside, though, it turned out to be a great game with Georgetown coming up just short, 86-81.
"This team really came together at the end and helped to put us on the national stage," Johnson said. "We had five seniors that year. Up to that point, they had never won a title, but really pulled together and made it happen."
Georgetown has since been to 12 more national tournaments with an 11-13 mark. The Tigers have three appearances in the quarterfinals and one in the Fab Four.
The night was also highlighted with the honoring of many individuals that give of them time, service and gifts to continue to make Tiger athletics great.
Made From Scratch, which often donates of its amazing catering abilities, was honored as the Milton "Shorty" Price recipients. Owners Jessica Greathouse and Claudia Costello provide food for numerous banquets, events, in-game meals, Thanksgiving meals, pre-game meals and special occasions. This company, located in the Thomas & King Conference & Leadership Center, has become part of the Tiger family. Both ladies do whatever they can to provide the best possible meals and are step-in at a moment's notice.
Bryan Johnson received the Donna Hawkins Coaching for Significance award. The longtime volunteer coach has helped to make Georgetown successful on the softball diamond. He has coached his daughters during both of their four-year careers as well as many whom have become like daughters to him. He gives of his time freely while working a full-time job in Georgetown and in 10 seasons has been a part of more than 200 wins.
Robert N. Wilson was recognized as the Rick Crawford Philanthropy award winner for all he has done to help baseball, including providing gifts that helped build the current field on which the team plays.
Billy Perkins, a volunteer for many athletic teams, received the Brad Davis Award for Game Administration. For more than two decades, Perkins has been a vital part of the game crew for football. He currently keeps hand stats that provide a fail-safe system during the computer era. He has also freely given of his time to help drive softball and even serve as a coach.
The Jim Reid Scholarship is also handed out during the Hall of Fame banquet. For the third year in a row, Castlewood, Ky. native Dylan Underwood was the recipient. Underwood is one of the Tigers' top golfers and has served as captain.
The even concluded with an opportunity for the athletic department to thank President Crouch for his 22 years of support and Tiger Pride.
Georgetown has had 10 runs at a national title during the two-plus decades, winning five. The Tigers have won numerous conference championships with countless appearances on the national scene. In that time, 90 athletes were honored as All-Americans and more than 1,000 athletes were recognized for their academic excellence.