Tom Leach's 2013 All-Resilient Team, powered by Kentucky National Guard Career Opportunities
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Molly Hendricks / Henderson County HS
|Tyler Smith / Warren East HSNot all adversity is phyiscal and Tyler Smith knows this all too well. Early in his junior season on the football team, Tyler lost his father to a heart attack. An uncle stepped into to fill that void of male leadership in Tyler's life but he, too, was later claimed by a heart attack. And if this wasn't enough, last summer, Tyler lost a clsoe friend and teammate on the Warren East baseball team in a tragic car accident. Despite losing three people as close to him as anyone could be, Tyler did not miss a beat as a student or an athlete. He started at linebacker for a state semifinal football team last fall and is finishing up his senior of baseball this spring, inspiring his teammates with his resilient spirit.|
|Jordon Melton / Leslie County HSPerhaps no word is more scary to anyone than "cancer" and last summer, Jordon Melton was diagnosed with clear cell sarcoma, a rare form of soft tissue cancer. He underwent surgery and returned to play football for Leslie County this past fall, until he was sidelined with a knee injury. In December, during a checkup, doctors discovered the cancer had returned and Jordan recently lost his battle with this disease. The way Jordon faced his adversity, with personal courage and a strong faith in God, served as an inspiration to an entire community.|
Lance Evans / Russell HSLance Evans suffered a broken leg during his junior season at Boyd County but he was determined to come back strong for his senior year and he did just that. Lance transferred to Russell High School and earned the starting quarterback job and he helped guide Russell to a spot in the state playoffs. Lance also was a starter for Russell's 23-7 basketball team and his AD says Lane's spirit epitomizes what the All-Resilient Team stands for.
Kyle Gehring / Wayne County HSKyle was a starter in his junior season for Wayne County but a shoulder injury became a problem this past season, forcing him to miss several games. Then, just as he was ready to return, a bout with the flu set him back for another week but his coach says Kyle's work ethic and attitude never changed. Kyle had to transition to the role of sixth man for his final season but his coach says he handled it superbly, providing key plays and leadership for a young team that was a surprising winner of the 12th Region title, giving Kyle a chance to finish his high school basketball career by playing in the Sweet 16 for a second time and he played both football and baseball as well.
|Austin Crook / Madisonville-North Hopkins HSHis coaches say Austin Crook was on his way to all-state status on the gridiron before being sidelined in his junior with a badly broken leg--an injury that included compound fractures to both the tibia and fibula. Extensive surgery was required, including the insertion of plates, screws and pins. Austin endured a lengthy and difficult rehabilitation process to return to the football field this past fall, despite being less than 100 percent. He is now fully recovered and is leading the Madisonville-North Hopkins power-lifting team. Through it all, Austin kept a positive attitude.|
|Buddy Jackson / Graves County HSSince age 8, Buddy Jackson has had to deal with diabetes but he has not allowed that condition to keep him from participating in a variety of sports in a variety of ways for Graves County. Buddy has competed in swimming and in wrestling plus he has served as a manager for the boys' soccer team and even took on the role of donning the costume of "Beaker," the school mascot. Buddy also participates in choir, drama and musical theatre and has performed the national anthem at GCHS sporting events. With a positive attitude, Buddy does all of this while wearing an insulin pump.|
|Whitney Foster / duPont Manual HS|
While pregnant, Whitney's mom was told her daughter might not live long beyond birth. Not only did Whitney live, she has thrived in inspirational ways. Whitney was born with arthrogryposis multiplex congenita, a rare disorder characterized by multiple joint contractures and muscle weakness and fibrosis. The condition left Whitney was limited use of her hands and her elbows are fixed in a 90-degree bend. Despite these obstacles, Whitney has become an outstanding bowler for the Manual High team, with an average of 145, which ranks in the top 20 in the region. And she has also participated in cheerleading and gymnastics and Whitney also started a disabilities awareness club at her school. She plans to attend UofL this fall.
|Drew Swartz / Menifee County HSAs the only senior, Drew served as captain for his team and no one would have guessed what kind of resilient spirit he would need to serve out that role. In preseason practice, Drew suffered a dislocated shoulder in a scrammble for a loose ball. He had to wear a brace to keep the shoulder in place. During a scrimmage game, there was a collision with another player but Drew finished the game. X-rays later revealed he had sustained a broken kneecap. After four weeks on the sidelines, Drew returned to the court with brace on that knee but in January, a strained back muscle dealt him yet another dose of adversity. Finally, on the morning of a regional tournament game, Drew had to undergo three hours of physical therapy for a hip that went out of alignment and later that night, he nearly led his team to an upset of Rowan County. Drew was his team's primary ballhandler and leading scorer despite all of those setbacks. |
Elliott Porter / Danville HSElliott was both with nerve damage to his neck and shoulder that was the result of a combination of Erb's palsy and Klumpke's palsy. This left Elliott with a left arm that is smaller and weaker and with less range of motion than his right arm. Despite this condition, Elliott has been a four-year starter in the heavyweight division for Danville's wrestling team and as a junior, he qualified for the state tournament. Elliott also played in the offensive and defensive lines for the Danville High football team, serving to inspire teammates all along the way.
|Haley Clark / Bath County HSHaley missed her entire junior season with the Bath County cross country and track teams while battling anorexia and depression. Haley spent almost two months in a hospital and her weight on a 5-foot-7-inch frame dropped to a mere 68 pounds. And it wasn't until she was cleared to return to running that finally started turning around. As a senior, she and her team qualified for the state championships and Haley says getting to run again is like the return of a best friend. She established new personal bests in the 800 meters and 5000 meters after her return to her team and she is part of Bath County's school-record setting 4x800 relay team.|
Katie Johnson / Harlan County HSBouncing back from adversity has become second nature to Katie. As an 8th-grader, she had developed into a standout softball player but a mysterious illness started to take its toll on her. After multiple tests, a rare liver condition was discovered and Katie had to start her training all over again. She battled pain, nausea and fatigue to once again become a starting pitcher for the Harlan County varsity team only to have a torn knee ligament sideline her again. But she battled back once more and returned to her top form, becoming an All-District and All-Region performer for Harlan and she has remained a perfect 4.0 GPA.
|Savannah Anderson / Lewis County HSGeorge Anderson was the kind of father who never missed one of his daughter's games all through elementary and middle school. But when he went on kidney dialysis treatment three years ago, he was rarely able to see his daughter, Savannah, play. Last fall, his health took a turn for the worse and he was taken to Columbus, OH for open heart surgery. Throughout this ordeal, Savannah remained resilient and continued to be one of the best players for her Lewis County team. In January, Mr. Anderson passed away and Savannah was called out of class to get that sad news. Her team had a game that night against rival Greenup County and she was determined to play and responded with a double-double performance. Through everything she dealt with, Savannah missed only one of her team's games.|
Kylie Hilander / Bourbon County HS
As a sophomore, Kylie's season ended when she suffered a torn ACL in her right knee in a game against Paris. The next season, in that same rivalry matchup, Kylie suffered the same injury to her other knee, forcing her to miss the remainder of this season in which she had been a preseason second-team All-Region pick by the coaches. Kylie, who also played for the Colonels' soccer and softball teams, worked hard to rehabilitate a second time and she was able to return to her team as a senior this past season. Despite the toll that two different knee injuries took on her game, Kylie persevered and she went into postseason play needing just 10 points to join Bourbon's 1,000-point club. Kylie scored 12 and ended her career with that milestone achievement.
Roger Rose / Madison Southern HS
At age 6, Roger suffered a stroke. He emerged from a coma with doctors telling him family they were not sure if he would ever be able to walk or talk again. He regained the ability to do both and he developed a passion for playing basketball. He was born righthanded but the stroke left him unable to utilize that arm, so he learned to play the game lefthanded. Madison Southern's season ended with a regional tournament loss to Scott County but Roger provided one of the season's most memorable moments in that game when he made a jumper and a free throw in the final minute. He plans to attend college and study to become a pediatrician.
Sydney Brooke Chirico / Paintsville HS
Sydney was born with amniotic band syndrome, leaving her without a left foot and with underdeveloped hands. She wears a prostethis below the knee on that left leg and she has endured seven surgeries on her leg and hands. Despite these obstacles, Sydney has been a cheerleader at Paintsville since her freshman year and she also participated in soccer, softball and track at the middle and elementary school levels. When a student from a rival school tweeted an insult about Sydney's prosthetic leg, fellow students were upset but Sydney ignored it and encouraged others to do the same.
Mark Heuser / Owen County HS
At age 9, Mark lost a foot in an accident but he would not let that obstacle keep him from competing in sports. Mark wears a prosthetic foot now and is a sophomore member of the Owen County basketball team. His coach says the pain is an issue for Mark but that Mark rarely complains and does not let it affect his training for his sport. Mark continually needs to get his prosthetic repaired because it doesn't hold up to his level of activity but he has never lets his misfortune after his passion for playing.
Madison Gooch / Montgomery County HS
Madison was born with cerebal palsy and her doctors told her parents that their daughter would never be able to walk. Madison underwent multiple surgeries and wore braces on both legs until she was 10 but she proved her doctors wrong and she got involved in sports. First, it was a special needs soccer team and that was followed by Upward basketball. She also tried softball but it was when Madison got involved in volleyball that her athletic career took off. She joined the high school team as a seventh-grader and she has been on the academic all-state first team in every season. She's a two-time winner of her team's 110-percent award and in 2011, Madison was named her team's most improved player. She earned her first varsity letter as a junior and in one game, she scored nine consecutive points on her serve.
Joel Wardle / Fairview HS
Joel was born with a form of dwarfism known as achondroplasia and he stands just 4-feet-2-inches tall and weighs 155 pounds. But Joel did not let his small stature keep him from playing for the Class A state runnerup Fairview football team. Wardle provided one of the season's most inspiring moments when he scored his first touchdown in a win over Powell County. His coach calls Wardle one of the team's hardest workers, noting Joel's 285-pound bench press and 455-pound squat lift. Joel also excels in the classroom, with a 3.9 GPA and plans to attend UK and pursue a career as a physical therapist.
Zenon "Jay" Rodriguez / Paducah Tilghman HS
Jay is deaf and as a youngster, that condition was a barrier too great to overcome in youth league sports. But as a freshman at Tilghman, Jay joined the wrestling team and thanks to the use of an interpreter, he was able to participate. Despite usually weighing 20 pounds less than the level of the smallest weight class, Jay battled week after week despite losing every match until the regionals. The next year, he improved to 32 wins and provided leadership to younger wrestlers. His coach says Jay has given 100 percent in every practice and match and has developed into an elite performer for the Tilghman program. Here's what Jay's coach, Jay Allen, said about him: “all coaches look for athletes that make their team and the people around them better. Zenon “Jay” Rodriguez is that and then some....
Imagine learning a sport - better yet learning anything - from people that you can't communicate with, without aid. He's made the transition from being a guy who wrestles to being a WRESTLER. He not only leads this wrestling program on the mat by being the first weight class but he leads it with class, dignity, integrity, and poise. When his time is up in this program and at this school, I will be glad to say that he has made me a better person and has taught me more than I could teach him.”
Sydney Clark/Frankfort HS
Sydney was born with a condition that her blind but that did not deter her from competing in archery as well as being an avid supporter of all Frankfort High teams. In the fifth grade, she earned first place in her division at the regional tournament and as a seventh-grader, a professional coach helped her learn how to shoot without assistance. Sydney's prowess with a bow served as an inspiration to other youngsters battling physical limitations and soon there were archery competitions featuring students shooting from wheelchairs or while using their teeth to shoot the arrow.
2012 All Resilient Team
|Rebekah Boone||Powell County High School|
|Kevin Carrico||Simon Kenton High School|
|Dalton Chappell||Bullitt East High School|
|C.J. Dotson||Phelps High School|
|Adam Elkins||North Oldham High School|
|Cassidy Dubree||Raceland High School|
|Rob Hill||Campbell County High School|
|Shavon Majors||Burgin High School|
|Corey Mivelaz||The Academy High School|
|Mohamed Musa||St. Francis High School|
|Jacob Raleigh||Letcher County Central High School|
|Carly Jo Ryan||Holy Cross High School|
|Dominic Vancleve||George Rogers Clark High School|
|Kasi Watson||Johnson Central High School|
|Brittany Whitson||Silver Grove High School|
2011 All Resilient Team
|Chance Anthony||Breckinridge County High School|
|Calvin Brent||Fern Creek High School|
|Josh Broyles||Boyle County High School|
|Meredith Budde||Atherton High School|
|Jacob Clark||North Oldham High School|
|Cassidy Dubree||Warren East High School|
|Josh Duckworth||Webster County High School|
|Joe Elam||Bourbon County High School|
|Caleb Ervin||Union County High School|
|Chance Gillespie||Marion County High School|
|Wes Hopkins||Nicholas County High School|
|Ryan Lloyd||Bishop Brossart High School|
|Eric May||Owensboro Catholic High School|
|Leslee Poole||Henderson County High School|
|Samantha Stallings||Sacred Heart Academy|
|Morgan Turner||Tates Creek High School|
|Heather Wheeler||St. Henry High School|
|Sarah Wheeler||St. Henry High School|
|Taylor Zuberer||duPont Manual High School|
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ALL-RESILIENT TEAM / MISSION STATEMENT
"Resiliency" is one of the foundation concepts of athletic competition at any level. And the notion of recovery from a setback, i.e. adversity, is something we all must encounter at some point in our lives. The 2010-11 Kentucky basketball team did not have any phyiscal setbacks but they did encounter numerous obstacles and coach John Calipari's squad showed amazing resiliency in reaching the Final Four. Our soldiers must embrace the need for "resiliency" in situations that sometimes might mean the difference between life and death.
Our "All-Resilient Team, powered by National Guard Career Opportunities," celebrates high school male and female student-athletes who overcome adversity on their path to success. It might be an injury, a disability, a difficult family or health circumstance--something that puts an obstacle in their path that might derail someone who is less resilient.
We are presently seeking a nominee from each Kentucky high school. The student-athlete should have competed in the 2011 calendar year. Nominees should be directed to:
A team of 19 young male and female student-athletes was been chosen for the first All-Resilient Team, from high schools all across the state of Kentucky. The team was honored at the Kentucky high school athletic directors' annual meeting on April 28, 2011 in Louisville and we are making plans currently to honor our next All-Resilient Team at that same event. --Tom Leach
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