Tom Leach's 2015 All-Resilient Team, powered by Kentucky National Guard Career Opportunities

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2015 All Resilient Team

Sam Arnold / Lexington ChristianSam Arnold is a standout at Lexington Christian Academy. His coach says Sam is a young man of high character who is hardworking , passionate and gritty. Sam was often sidelined during the season with serious injuries but he battled back and with limited playing time, managed to make important plays which gave LCA momentum in several key games. He always gave 100 percent even though he was never able to play at 100 percent of his strength.
Adam Bender / Lexington Catholic HSAdam is determined to live life to the fullest despite losing his left leg to cancer at the age of one. He made national headlines as a child competing in youth baseball. This year, Adam entered Lexington Catholic High School and made a name for himself again,,,,earning a number three state ranking as a wrestler for the Knights. Adam insists on no special treatment. For instance, instead of running sprints with crutches, Adam does bear crawls. His goal is to win a state title.
Malik Britt / Murray HSMalik was in foster care when he started high school in Louisville. He ran away twice in search of his birth mother. Malik was found in Missouri and returned to a group home in Kentucky. He was enrolled in school but was not allowed to participate in sports. Eventually, that changed when he moved to Murray, Kentucky. He joined the football team and became a starter. After football season, he made the varsity basketball team and became a good student. He hopes to be placed with a new foster family soon.
Jalil Brown / Ballard HSHead football coach Mike Jackson uses words such as resilient, genuine and outstanding to describe Jalil. He was forced to face adversity at a young age when he lost his mother. As an athlete, his hard work and diligence earned him a starting linebacker spot as a sophomore but he suffered a season ending injury in the third game. Jalil endured a year of grueling rehab, came back strong and suffered another season-ending injury halfway through his junior year. Throughout it all, he came to practice,,, to support his teammates.He was elected team captain his senior year and lead Ballard to it’s best season in 30 years with a trip to the state semifinals.
Kennedy Carl / Bracken County HSAn eighth grader who plays JV and Varsity basketball is impressive enough on its own. But for Kennedy Carl,,, it was simply the foundation for a remarkable season. Kennedy’s father died in the tragic collapse of the I-75 bridge in Cincinnati earlier this year. Kennedy chose to play the night her father died as a tribute to him and the love of the game they shared. In fact, Kennedy’s dad watched her JV game just before heading to work that fateful day.
Alex Chen / Richmond Model HSAlex is a standout because of the courage and compassion he’s shown through extremely difficult circumstances. Alex is a basketball player who missed his entire freshman season with a knee injury. He came back to average 16 points and 11 rebounds a game. Recently, he lost his mother after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. He dedicated this past season to her and also took on a greater role at home,,,helping care for a brother with Down’s Syndrome. His coach says Alex always puts others needs before his own and is a great inspiration for his teammates.
Taylor Church / Henderson County HSTaylor Church suffers from brain seizures that can occur many times a day. The condition makes learning, driving, socializing and playing sports challenging. Taylor worked hard to make the basketball team but was forced to quit after another illness struck,,, affecting her muscle development. She didn’t let it get her down and decided to set her sights on golf. Through hard work and determination, Taylor persevered, made the golf team and earned a college scholarship. Her high school coach says Taylor has even managed to adapt on the golf course when seizures hit, a skill many adults have not mastered.
Catheryne Claunch / Mercer County HSAs a sophomore, Catheryne was the leading scorer for the Mercer County girls basketball team. Her life took a very different turn when she became pregnant, had a baby girl and missed her junior year on the court. Even though she wasn’t on the team,,, she attended most home games. The team welcomed her back for her senior year and she made it into the 1,000-point club at her school. Her coach says Catheryne is now a great mother and a great athlete.
Cory Davis / DeSales HSCory was always an exceptional student athlete. As a leader on his soccer team all four years, Cory served as captain his senior year and was one of the top scorers. His family endured a great tragedy last year when Cory’s grandmother and three sisters were involved in a serious accident. Cory lost his youngest sister that night and later his grandmother. Cory exhibited great strength during a heartbreaking time in his life. He stepped up for his family while still coming through for his team and his school.
Kerry Dominic “Dom” Holly / Waggener HSAs a newborn, Dom Holly suffered a stroke. A tough way to enter the world, it was just the first of many setbacks in his young life. At age six, Dom was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma and spent the first grade undergoing chemotherapy. He fought hard to recover and eventually became a three-sport athlete and an academic all-star at Waggener High School. Earlier this year, a tumor was discovered on Dom’s spine at the brain stem. Surgery to remove it left him partially paralyzed. He also lost 30 pounds but is once again proving his resiliency. He just started hitting the weights again and hopes to come back in time for the 2015 football season.
Noah Laman / Casey County HSPlaying sports was everything to Noah. From t-ball, youth football and basketball, his life revolved around sports. He made all-star in football and was a top 10 state finisher in track and field during middle school. In eighth grade, he complained of knee pain and tests revealed a tumor in his femur. A diagnosis of bone cancer resulted in the removal of Noah’s knee and femur. He endured months of chemotherapy and surgeries for a prosthetic leg. Hospitalized for nearly a year, Noah thought his sports career was over when a surgeon suggested he could try shot put and discus. His freshman year, Noah made the regional tournament and also joined the cheer team where his signature move is lifting cheerleaders with one hand. His motto is “Keep the Faith.”
Monica Loftus / Holy Cross HSMonica was a stand-out All-State varsity setter for her volleyball team at the age of 13. She accumulated several honors and was a leader on the court and in the classroom. During her junior season, Monica tore her ACL and her meniscus. She maintained a great attitude through extensive reconstructive surgery and grueling rehabilitation. Just weeks after being cleared by her doctor to resume training, she suffered another meniscus tear. Despite repeated injuries, Monica never gave up. She came back to play every game her senior year, often in excruciating pain.
Nick Miller / Ashland Blazer HSThe athletic director at Ashland Blazer says in his 30 years of experience, he’s never seen an athlete face more adversity than Nick Miller. As a varsity, freshman basketball player he missed 15 games with a broken foot. A back injury kept him off the court for another 15 games during his sophomore and junior years. Then Nick broke his other foot during senior year and missed most of the season but he never gave up. His leadership, enthusiasm and determination had an enormous impact on everyone around him.
Jake O’Mara / Mason County HSJake had to overcome a potentially devastating staph infection after what was supposed to be a routine procedure to remove screws from his knee. The infection returned and Jake endured several rounds of surgery. At one point, he was told he might lose part of his leg and never walk again. Despite the setback, Jake recovered, worked hard and ended up as a three-year starter for Mason County basketball. He also led Mason County to an undefeated regular season as quarterback for the football team. His basketball coach says Jake’s resilience was an inspiration for all of his teammates.
Megan Payton / Henry County HSMegan fought back from two knee surgeries her sophomore and junior years to become the lead scorer and rebounder for the Henry County Lady Cat basketball team. Her coach says she also had to overcome some challenging issues at home but she met those physical and personal obstacles with great character. She wants to continue her playing career in college while studying to become a nurse.
Christopher Ricker / Trinity HSCross Country is a sport that demands a tenacious work ethic and a resilient spirit to succeed. You're a part of a team but the sport requires one to compete as an individua, so teammates can provide only encouragement and moral support. In addition to the normal challenges a cross country runner faces, Christopher Ricker had to overcome a genetic brain disorder. The illness hinders his speech, balance and muscle development but Christopher worked diligently on the field and off to make the team. He ran several varsity races for Trinity and Chris’ can-do spirit was a beacon for his teammates.
Austin Sparrow / Mercer County HSAustin Sparrow is the epitome of resilient. During his senior year, Austin’s father was battling stage four colon cancer. Despite his family’s struggle, Austin managed to lead his football team and later also ran track and played basketball. He maintained a 4.0 GPA and spent most evenings discussing sports with his father. In fact, he credits his father’s fighting spirit as his inspiration. On the playing field, Austin led an effort to put blue colon cancer awareness stickers on the Titans' helmets
Ross Thompson / Hart County HSSurgery for a hip problem forced Ross Thompson to the sideline for much of his senior year. a big disappointment since he had been a devoted baseball and basketball player his entire high school career. Ross didn’t let it get him down. He worked hard to rehabilitate the hip injury and was determined to make it back in time to play part of the baseball season for Hart County.
Isaac Weddington / Lewis County HSIsaac accepted adversity with an amazing attitude. He entered his senior year with several schools recruiting him in football and baseball. Early in the season, while playing quarterback, he tore his ACL, LCL and both menisci. Throughout his recovery, he never left the stage of Lewis County sports even though he was told he wouldn’t be well enough to participate. Isaac attended all of the football practices and games. He also ended up in a coaching role of sorts for the basketball team. He received several prestigious sports and academic awards and will be attending UK on an academic scholarship.

2014 All Resilient Team

Jasper BowlingSouth Laurel High School
Willie BuronFairdale High School
Emma ConleyBracken County High School
Macye DavisWebster County High School
Devonte DuncanMeade County High School
Hayley EmmerichCalvary Christian High School
Dylan FergusonBullitt East High School
Alli FuquaMarshall County High School
Madison JohnstonHopkins Central High School
Chris LattimoreWalton-Verona High School
Tyus LewisWashington County High School
James MasonAnderson County High School
Stuart MillsMayfield High School
Kinsey MorrisonSt. Francis High School
Ashton PenningtonHenry County High School
Tee SalinasNorth Oldham High School
Matt SalleeHenry County High School
Ryan TolliverRaceland High School
Nicole UpchurchSomerset High School
Phillip VandeveerDeSales High School
Clint WalkerCentral Hardin High School
Kadison WarrenHart High School
Jayne YocumFrankfort High School

2013 All Resilient Team

Molly HendricksHenderson County High School
Alicia KalbfieischMercy Academy
Tyler SmithWarren East High School
Jordon MeltonLeslie County High School
Lance EvansRussell High School
Kyle GehringWayne County High School
Austin CrookMadisonville-North Hopkins High School
Buddy JacksonGraves County High School
Whitney FosterduPont Manual High School
Drew SwartzMenifee County High School
Elliott PorterDanville High School
Haley ClarkBath County High School
Katie JohnsonHarlan County High School
Savannah AndersonLewis County High School
Kylie HilanderBourbon County High School
Roger RoseMadison Southern High School
Sydney Brooke ChiricoPaintsville High School
Mark HeuserOwen County High School
Madison GoochMontgomery County High School
Joel WardleFairview High School
Zenon "Jay" RodriguezPaducah Tilghman High School
Sydney ClarkFrankfort High School

2012 All Resilient Team

Rebekah BoonePowell County High School
Kevin CarricoSimon Kenton High School
Dalton ChappellBullitt East High School
C.J. DotsonPhelps High School
Adam ElkinsNorth Oldham High School
Cassidy DubreeRaceland High School
Rob HillCampbell County High School
Shavon MajorsBurgin High School
Corey MivelazThe Academy High School
Mohamed Musa St. Francis High School
Jacob RaleighLetcher County Central High School
Carly Jo Ryan Holy Cross High School
Dominic VancleveGeorge Rogers Clark High School
Kasi WatsonJohnson Central High School
Brittany WhitsonSilver Grove High School

2011 All Resilient Team

Chance AnthonyBreckinridge County High School
Calvin BrentFern Creek High School
Josh BroylesBoyle County High School
Meredith BuddeAtherton High School
Jacob ClarkNorth Oldham High School
Cassidy DubreeWarren East High School
Josh DuckworthWebster County High School
Joe ElamBourbon County High School
Caleb ErvinUnion County High School
Chance GillespieMarion County High School
Wes HopkinsNicholas County High School
Ryan LloydBishop Brossart High School
Eric MayOwensboro Catholic High School
Leslee PooleHenderson County High School
Samantha StallingsSacred Heart Academy
Morgan TurnerTates Creek High School
Heather WheelerSt. Henry High School
Sarah WheelerSt. Henry High School
Taylor ZubererduPont Manual High School

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"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: The deadline for making nominations is March 9, 2012.

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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