Often in this space I have told stories about myself, usually poking fun at some of the goofy escapades of my younger years. But this week I’m going to brag a little bit. Not so much about myself, but about The Times-Gazette and many others.
For the eighth consecutive year The Times-Gazette hosted an annual dinner/banquet Thursday night honoring its 2017 inductees into the Highland County Athletic Hall of Fame and 28 of the county’s outstanding 2017 senior scholar-athletes. Judging from the comments we hear at the conclusion of the banquet each year, it is well received and appreciated.
It takes some work, but we believe it is well worth the effort to honor those past, present and future individuals who have stood out among their peers in our community.
But it is not just The Times-Gazette that is responsible for the banquet’s success. In fact, it would not be possible without the help of many others.
So, we would like to thank the 100 or so people – parents, siblings, grandparents, friends, student-athletes, coaches, athletic directors and more – who took the time to attend the event.
We would like to thank Andrea Holt and her catering staff, including her daughter Johanna, for once again providing an exceptional meal and an ideal setting for the event. And thanks to Kenny Lerch at Red Dot Trophies in New Vienna, who always goes above and beyond in making sure the plaques and medallions are turned around on relatively short notice.
We would like to thank the athletic directors in Highland County. Usually at a time when they are really busy toward the latter part of the school year we send them a packet full of letters and ask them to forward one to each varsity coach at their respective school. Some of them go out of their way to help, and without that help our efforts to honor student-athletes would not get off the ground.
We would like to thank all the coaches who took the time to fill out a nomination form and submit it to us. We encourage the coaches who did not nominate one of their student-athletes to consider doing so next year. We would also like to thank the coaches for the role they take in an often thankless job and for helping develop so many student-athletes into the success stories they have become.
We would like to thank Chris Duckworth for making the trip from Columbus to accept a hall of fame award for his grandfather, Ed Ayres. The same goes for Janie Shoemaker, who was there representing the 1928 Marshall High School High School state championship basketball team that her late father, Lloyd Chestnut, was a star on, and for sharing a story about the small basketball pendant he was awarded for winning the state title. She still has the pendant, and wore it proudly at the banquet.
Personally, I would like to thank our publisher and editor, Gary Abernathy, for making a heartfelt acceptance speech on behalf of his barnyard basketball buddy and hall of fame inductee, Andy Richmond. And thanks to Chad Richmond for accepting the award for his late father.
We would also like to thank Katie Dettwiller, a swimming coach at McClain whose husband, Mark, is the softball coach at Fairfield. Katie has connections at both schools, and she goes out of her way to see that coaches from both of them nominate someone, and attend the banquet. We had students from all five public high schools in Highland County represented this year, but it is because of Katie that we had 11 nominees from McClain and six from Fairfield. By comparison, Lynchburg-Clay had five nominees, Hillsboro four and Whiteoak two.
I would like to thank The Times-Gazette staff for all their help year after year with the banquet.
There is still a very important group we have yet to thank, but we’ll get there in a second. If I have left anyone out, please know it was unintentional, and that we appreciate your contribution no matter how large or how small.
Lastly – maybe most importantly – we’d like to thank the parents of all the student-athletes who were nominated for The Times-Gazette Highland County Scholar-Athlete Award. A few of them took the time after the banquet to tell us how much they appreciated The Times-Gazette for recognizing the efforts of their children in the classroom, on their respective athletic fields of endeavor, and in their communities.
That is always quite nice to hear, but mostly we’d like to thank the parents of all our nominees for raising the kind of children worthy of the honor that was bestowed on them. Those kids are our future, and despite what some might lead you to believe, judging from the kids I saw Thursday night, our future is in good hands.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or firstname.lastname@example.org