Grayson County High School honored its elite sports stars on Friday night by inducting the school’s inaugural Sports Hall of Fame class between the boys and girls basketball games against Butler County. A packed gym witnessed 10 former Cougar athletes, one former coach, and a long-time program contributor as they took the walk of fame from the sideline to center court to rousing ovations from those in attendance.
Included in the initial Hall of Fame class were softball star Michelle Critchelow (2005 graduate), basketball standout Chris Gaither (2002), and outstanding track and field athletes Pat Alexander (1982), Spring Wall (1993), Lee Miles (1996), Angie Lee (1999), Brian Soverns (2006), Josh Smith (2007), Deshea Brock (1995), as well as the late track and field state champion, Kim Escue (1994).
Also inducted were legendary Cougar baseball coach Don Lee, who piloted Grayson County’s baseball program from 1975 to 1998. The voice of Grayson County sports, K105’s own Dave Thompson, was honored for his 32 years of expertly bringing to radio listeners the call of the Cougar action.
“Well, I was really just kind of honored to be among the athletes who were inducted into the (Grayson County Sports) Hall of Fame,” Thompson said about his induction. “It’s a tribute, really, to many years of service. The coaches, players and fans have been just really nice; it’s just kind of a tribute to all of them.”
It is indeed rare for a high school sports broadcaster to rise to iconic status, but Thompson, through not only his longevity, but also the high quality of his broadcasts, has clearly separated himself from others who call high school sporting events.
Every great career has to start somewhere, but Thompson’s illustrious broadcasting career began rather unceremoniously.
“Well, I was always interested in sports and got into radio a couple of years before coming to Grayson County and did play-by-play there (in Marion County), Thompson said. “The first game that I did was a baseball game in which the (station) manager being new in radio and a young guy, asked me to come out to the game with him and kind of see how things went. Between innings he said ‘I’ll be back in a minute, and if not, say something until I get back;’ I didn’t see him anymore that game.”
The first seeds of broadcasting were planted for Thompson as a small boy growing up in Marion County, listening to University of Kentucky play-by-play personalities, the legendary Cawood Ledford and Claude Sullivan. Thompson, also a big Cincinnati Reds fan, loved to listen to the Reds on the radio.
“Oh yeah, even as a little kid I listened to the radio, listened to ball games,” Thompson said about the genesis of his radio career. “We lived in Marion County when I was growing up, and I listened to the Cincinnati Reds. Of course we got the Lexington radio stations and they carried the Reds and all the Lexington area teams.”
But as Thompson grew older he did not give much thought to radio broadcasting until he found himself unemployed.
“After I graduated from high school I didn’t really think very much more about it (working in radio) … (I didn’t know) what I wanted to do,” Thompson stated. “I was unemployed, and there was a radio class that opened in the area and I went to that, and that’s what got me started. It just kind of came natural (to me) I guess.”
Brian Soverns, an extraordinary shot put and discus athlete in high school and college (at Western Kentucky University), and current assistant men’s track and field coach at Bellarmine University in Louisville, was humbled by the honor of being included in Grayson County’s first sports Hall of Fame class.
“It’s definitely a very big honor to be inducted into the inaugural class of the Hall of Fame,” Soverns said. “It obviously means a lot to be a part of a group that’s done such great things for Grayson County High School. I don’t consider myself worthy of (being) in this group, but I’m glad other people do. Basically, it’s just an honor to be here.”
Being a success on the field of play, though, is only part of the equation, as Soverns credits his time at Grayson County for preparing him to succeed in life.
“All of my coaches I had when I was here really helped me, from elementary school all the way up, and especially my high school coaches, helped me grow as a person and prepared me to put in the hard work to make it at the next level athletically” Soverns said. “And that carried over to academics and then further on in life.”
Angie Lee Abner, one of the most decorated track and field star in Grayson County history, was thankful for her induction.
“It is an honor, a true honor to be inducted in the Grayson County Sports Hall of Fame,” Abner excitedly said.”I am very humbled to be recognized in this way.”
Abner, like Soverns, credits her time at Grayson County as an exceptional athlete for helping prepare her for the responsibilities life requires.
”Definitely the discipline, the hard work, the team work and camaraderie, being accountable and learning how to represent Grayson County (all) helped me learn how to be a more responsible citizen,” Abner said. “Also, I think to have the desire to give back when you are so blessed to be part of this program and this community, you realize you are expected to give back, and that’s something our coaches really stressed with us.”