Thanks for the KHSADA for once again serving as our partner for the tomleachky.com "All-Resilient Team" project. And thanks to the sponsors of our "salutes" on the Leach Report radio show--Star Manufacturing, Keeneland and Game One Sports. Also, thanks for Crown Trophy of Louisville for providing the awards for the winners and for Welch Printing for printing of team posters for those chosen to this year's squad.
Demetrius "Bubbie" Barnett, Warren Central HS
Bubbie's first setback came at the start of his junior season, when he suffered a dislocated shoulder but with a special brace and several weeks of rehab, he was able to return to the gridiron for Warren Central. Then, in his final game, he broke two bones in his forearm while making a tackle on a special teams play and that kept him on the sidelines for the first half of the basketball season. Bubbie was a three-year letterman for the football team, which made its first playoff appearance in years in his senior season, and a reserve on the state championship basketball team for Warren Central. Along the way, Bubbie was a two-time selection to the KHSAA's academic all-state team in both football and basketball.
Austin Bingham, Jackson County HS
Imagine being 12-years old and you're told you have stage 3 Hodgkin's Lymphoma and the treatment means you can no longer play the sports you've loved since you were five? That's the story of Austin Bingham and during his journey, he also lost both of the grandfathers to whom he was very close. But this story gets better. Austin was declared cancer-free and he returned to play basketball and golf for Jackson County, inspiring his teammates, coaches and the entire community along the way. Austin thought his basketball playing days were over but beating the odds and making it back to the court enabled him to be part of a squad that won the Chain Rock Classic Tournament and reached the finals of the 13th Region All 'A' Classic Tournament.
Koby Brewer, Pendleton County HS
Playing major league baseball was Koby's dream as a youngster but at age eight, those hopes were dashed with the news that he suffered from Congenital Long QT Syndrome. It's an abnormality of the heart's electrical system and it's life-threatening when one's heart is exerted. Low potassium or calcium levels, amusement park rides, even a "scare" could ignite this condition so playing competitive sports were considered out of the question because of the excitement component. Enter Koby's grandfather. He was a longtime bowler and his hunch that this was a sport in which one could more easily regulate the heart rate proved correct. "Pap" taught Koby how to bowl and Koby became one of the state's top bowlers at Pendleton County High School. He was the state runner up as a junior and set school records for high game (279) and most pins in a season--and he helped his team to consecutive regional titles. To top it offer, Koby earned a scholarship to bowl at The University of The Cumberlands.
Miles Buchart, Lexington Catholic HS
Miles suffered a severe leg fracture while on the diving board in 2019 and had to be rushed into surgery, which required the insertion of a metal rod into the broken leg. He endured a long rehab process only to have the same leg snap while diving in Florida on a family vacation. Doctors told Miles that he would never be on the diving board again and that there was a risk of amputation of that leg. Thankfully that did not happen and after a couple of years away from the sport he loved, he convinced the doctors and his parents to let him give it another try. The expectations bar was set low for his return but he exceeded those goals by a wide margin. Miles amazingly won the 8th Region championship, breaking a record set in 2017 in the process, and then followed it up with a state championship.
Drew Burke, Raceland HS
Just ahead of his 16th birthday, in March of 2020, Drew was diagnosed with AHUS, a rare kidney condition. It is a blood disorder that can affect blood flow and ultimately cause kidney failure. Despite that ailment, Drew maintained his spot as a starting center for the Raceland football team, never missing a practice, a weight room session or a game. He learned how to manage the disease and was a decorated player for the Rams, who won 25 games over Drew's final two seasons. He was named honorable mention all-state, all-conference, all-district and was chosen for the Ashland Daily Independent's all-area team.
Seth Caton, Mercer County HS
A torn ACL in a knee ended Seth's high school career midway through his senior season of basketball but he had already demonstrated his resiliency in fighting through another serious setback earlier in his high school career. Early in his junior year, Seth was diagnosed with a torn labrum in his shoulder, causing severe pain and limiting his range of motion. Rather than miss out on his chance to play sports, Seth postponed surgery and averaged 12 points per game as the point guard for Mercer County. Following that season, Seth had the labrum surgery and he returned ahead of schedule to play his senior season and serve as captain. The knee injury ended his time on the court but he remained loyal in support of his team. The injuries also derailed a promising baseball career that saw him earn a starting spot as a sophomore and being named to the regional all-tournament team that spring.
Ava Coleman, Scott High
Ava had to overcome two ACL tears in her left knee, first as a freshman and then as a junior at Scott High, forcing her to miss two seasons on the basketball court and her senior year on the soccer field. Her doctor told her she might never play sports again but through a strong mindset and a lot of hard work, she made it back for her senior season with the basketball team, serving as a captain. She was also a captain for her soccer team and a top 25 assist leader, earning All-10th Region honors in 2020 and all 37th District in both that sport and basketball. She did all of this plus was a standout in the classroom, with numerous honors including Governor's Scholar.
Luke Colebank, Shelby County HS
Luke was diagnosed with stage 1 diabetes at age six, setting up for a life of managing his disease and the stress that comes with it. But it did not deter Luke from pursuing a high school career as a swimmer for Shelby County High School. He had to control his diet to maximize blood sugar levels as races approached but Luke was still able to thrive in the pool. He set a school record in the 100-yard breaststroke and won a regional championship in that event as well. Luke helped his team make it to the state meet for five consecutive years and was named Swim Team Leader and winner of the team's Warrior Award along the way.
Sawyer Crum, Johnson Central HS
When Sawyer suffered a torn ACL in a knee in May of 2022, doctors recommended surgery. But knowing that would cause him to miss his senior season of football, soccer and bowling, Sawyer opted for a custom-made metal brace that would limit his mobility and cause him additional pain. Sawyer played on and at an amazing high level. He finished the soccer season as one of only two players in the state to exceed 25 goals and 25 assists. And he finished fourth all-time with a streak of 21 consecutive games with a goal or an assist, including the game-winning penalty kick for the regional title. On the football field, he made 55 of 56 extra-point kicks, including the game-winner in a one-point win for the district title. And in bowling, his 660 series in a Christmas tournament gave his team its first-ever tournament championship.
Laniyah Dunn, Collins HS
Laniyah was only 15 years old when she had to balance a job with school and her role with the Collins High basketball team, in order to help out a single mom of five to provide for the family. As the oldest child in the home, she was also tasked with helping care for two younger sisters. Through this adversity, Laniyah was able to shine. She doubled her scoring average to 18 points per game as a junior, including a 40-point performance in one game. She was voted her team's Most Valuable Player and earned All-30th District honors. Laniyah has maintained a 3.4 grade point average and aspires to play basketball in college.
Reece Estep, Madison Southern HS
At the end of her freshman season of basketball and volleyball at Madison Southern, Reece suffered a torn knee ligament but this was only the beginning of journey with adversity. Reece made it back on the court in time for her junior season in which she led her team in rebounding and that was followed with a strong showing on the AAU circuit and in camp settings, all of which led to a scholarship offer to Campbellsville University. But two weeks into the season, team captain Reece collided with an opponent and tore a ligament in her other knee and her season was done. While preparing for her senior campaign, Reece endured another season-ending injury when she ruptured one of those repaired ligaments. To its credit, Campbellsville honored the scholarship offer and Reece is looking forward to a successful career there.
Blake Folke, Covington Catholic HS
If any player would have had a right to just throw in the towel on his athletic career at Covington Catholic High School, it would have been Blake but he came back time and time again to be with his football and baseball teams. Heading into the 2022 season, he was projected to play a key role as a running back for the Colonels' football team but an injury once again scuttled that plan. Between the seventh grade and his senior year, Blake underwent 11 major injuries. There were torn knee ligaments, two hip fractures, three broken clavicles, two wrist fractures and torn labrum and a separated AC joint. Through all of those injuries, Blake maintained his positive attitude and supported his teammates--and achieved a GPA of 3.7 in the classroom. Blake is headed to the University of Alabama on an academic scholarship.
Cayden Goodman, Graves County HS
Cayden lost his junior season at Graves County after tearing two ligaments in a knee during spring practice, leaving him and his family devastated. But he did not let him keep him from continuing to be a part of the team. Rehab sessions followed reconstructive surgery but Cayden scheduled them around the practices for his teammates, so he could be there to support them. This event included the 6 a.m. workouts during the heat of summer and when a backup quarterback suffered a serious injury, Cayden was the first one to reach him and offer encouragement. By his senior season, Cayden had worked his way back into the mix as a wideout and defensive back for Graves County, making 21 catches for the season and scoring seven touchdowns.
Louis Hayes, Rowan County HS
The trail of adversity for Louis began in his sophomore season when an ankle injury ended his role for the Rowan County football team. As a junior, in game six, he suffered a season-ending knee injury. And then in the offseason, his 10-year old brother was tragically shot and killed. Louis wore the number 10 as a senior and dedicated his performance to the memory of his little brother. And Louis honored his brother with a stellar senior campaign. He ran for 666 yards and had 28 catches for another 497 yards, accounting for 13 total touchdowns along the way. And he was a two-time member of the All-Eastern Kentucky Conference squad and the Ashland Daily Independent's All-Area team.
Jeramiah Israel, Lloyd Memorial HS
Jeramiah's adversity began shortly after birth when he and his siblings were sent to live with his grandmother. She had been awarded custody because Jeramiah's parents were battling drug issues. While in the sixth grade, two of Jeramiah's younger siblings were diagnosed with autism and he helped to care for them. By eighth grade, Jeramiah was taking on various jobs to provide income for the household. Through all of this adversity, Jeramiah remained focused on his passion for basketball at Lloyd Memorial High School. He scored more than a thousand points while earning all-conference and all-district honors. His 21 point-per-game scoring average as a senior earned him a scholarship to Northern Kentucky University.
Jonah Little, Letcher County HS
Jonah's family was one of many impacted by the historic flooding in eastern Kentucky in the summer of 2022. Just two weeks into practices for his senior football season, Jonah's family was left homeless, with all of their possessions washed away. Instead of practicing the next two weeks, Jonah and his teammates worked to help their community recover. When the season started, Jonah made his first start at quarterback and what a performance he delivered--more than 200 yards passing, more than 130 rushing and five touchdowns--in leading Letcher County Central to the first of its eight wins. For the season, he went over a thousand yards in both categories, running for 32 TDs and passing for 13 more, and earning Class 4A Player of the Year honors.
Ella Shae Massingille, Monroe County HS
Teddy Meiers, St. Xavier HS
Teddy's list of injuries is a long one. In the spring of 2021, he needed surgery for a torn labrum muscle suffered while playing lacrosse at St. Xavier. Later that fall, his junior season on the football field started with a broken thumb in game one and then in his third game back, he tore the same labrum muscle again. The next fall, an ailing back required injections and then in game five, he suffered a torn knee ligament. Teddy returned that season to be the second-leading tackler in the team's final playoff game and before the barrage of injuries, he had been the Tigers' third-leading tackler as a sophomore. Through it all, Teddy served as a leader for his team, signaling in defensive formations and helping mentor younger players. Along the way, he was elected team captain and Senior Class president and organized a multi-school food drive to combat hunger in his community.
Alex Parks, Livingston Central HS
Alex arrived in the world 11 months premature and it caused him to be born with Amniotic Band Syndrome--a rare condition that often causes the death of the child. In Alex's case, it led to amputation of a part of a hand and left with a club foot and one leg shorter than the other. There were multiple surgeries to endure and Alex was told he would never be able to run and would always walk with a limp--and later in his life, some lung issues developed and that led to multiple surgeries. Alex did not accept the limitations and he became a multi-sport athlete at Livingston Central. In cross country, he qualified for the state meet individually and was part of three teams that qualified for state and Alex served as a captain. For the track team, he ran the 800, 1600 and 3200 meters and lettered for both cross country and track for six years. And Alex was also a three-year varsity letter winner for the golf team. Alex has been active in several school clubs, too, and was the in-arena "voice" on the PA for the boys' and girls' basketball team at LCHS.
Vinny Petroze, Newport Central Catholic HS
A simple cut on a leg suffered in a soccer match rocked Vinny's world, as it developed into a flesh-eating bacteria that put his life in jeopardy. His condition deteriorated quickly and there were multiple, daily surgeries needed to save his leg and his life. At one point, he was on a ventilator for two days but he recovered and endured one final operation to reconstruct the leg. His doctors at Cincinnati Children's Hospital attributed his recovery to his excellent overall health before the bacterial infection as well as Vinny's resilient spirit in fighting this battle. Just 12 weeks later, he was back on the court with the basketball team at Newport Central Catholic, followed by baseball and soccer the next fall. In his first two years as a varsity starter in soccer, Vinny started every game and won a "more than a match" award along the way.
Chloe Potter, Bowling Green HS
The adversity Chloe faced was more mental than physical as she had to overcome the loss of her mother and both grandparents during her time at Bowling Green High School. Despite those setbacks, Chloe never wavered in the commitment to the teams on which she played at BGHS. Chloe was a three-year starter for the softball team as a catcher and a key role player for the Purples basketball team. At a holiday tournament at Bullitt East, Chloe earned player of the game honors in a first-round win and called it one of the highlights of her career. Chloe also provides great leadership to her teams with her positive attitude.
Jax Rogers, Mayfield HS
Jax's story of perseverance is truly inspiring. His passion to play for perennial state powerhouse Mayfield was strong so Jax fought back through three different knee ligament tears after starting as a sophomore for a state runner-up team. The first knee injury came in game one of his junior season, as he tore multiple ligaments. But two games into his junior year, Jax suffered another torn ligament, ending a season that started with him earning defensive player-of-the-game honors the week before. Jax worked hard to get back for his senior season but a third knee injury sent him back to the sidelines. Jax says he drew inspiration from the people in his community who fought back from the devastation of an onslaught of tornadoes in December of 2021 and so he made it back on the field, rehabbing to the point that he could play on the extra-point team and help Mayfield get back to the state championship game.
Macey Shelton, Bourbon County HS
To go into detail on Macey's list of injuries would take more space than this program provides us. Just after birth, she was diagnosed with Wolfe Parkinson White Syndrome, which can cause one's heart to go into cardiac arrest when the heart rate is elevated. It's a malady that Macey has been able to control. At age three, however, she broke a leg and that led to a diagnosis of scoliosis and brittle bone disease. This led to six different fractures of femurs in both legs, three foot fractures, a broken knuckle and multiple surgeries. There were also constant infusions designed to increase her bone density. All of this would frequently derail Macey's athletic career but she was determined that it would not be ended. She became a five-year dance team member. She was chosen as captain as a senior and earned all-america recognition. She also competed in archery and golf and earned honorable mention academic all-state honors for all four years of high school. Now, she aspires to a career as a pediatric orthopedic surgical assistant.
Ashton Smith, Christian County HS
Ashton and his family saw their home go up in flames just a few months after the covid-19 pandemic threw the world into disarray. For months, they moved from one location to another while their home was renovated. Then, just after some normalcy returned to his life, Ashton caught covid and had to practice and do workouts for his wrestling and soccer teams without any coaching. But Ashton persevered and was a state qualifier in wrestling in 2022 and ranked in the top 10 the following year, while winning 27 of 36 matches. And in soccer, he was named to the all-district and all-region teams for Christian County High School.
Clayton Thompson, Bracken County HS
The story on Clayton on Cincinnati TV station WCPO's website said it best--"the players on the Bracken County High School baseball dedicated their season to a teammate facing life-threatening challenges. They never imagined that same teammate would later save their season." Thompson delivered the game-tying hit that paved the way for a 39th District Tournament win that enabled the Polar Bears to qualify for the 10th Region Tournament. This came just two months after he was diagnosed with Guillan-Barre Syndrome, a rare disorder in which the immune system attacks the nervous system and leads to paralysis unless treatment is successful. For a time, Clayton could not talk, walk or even make facial expressions. Fortunately the treatment worked and he beat the projected six-month window for returning to the diamond.
Amare Townsend, duPont Manual HS
While being a standout player, Amare earned the reputation of being a team-first guy within the highly-ranked duPont Manual squad. So when a key safety was lost to injury, Amare answered the call to move from the position he loved, running back, to the defensive side of the ball. Amare shined in his new role for a defense that led the state in fewest points allowed but while playing running back, he suffered a torn knee ligament in a game and that ended his sophomore season. There was also the time that Amare and his brother went home for a pregame meal and on the way back, they saw a man running toward their car while brandishing a gun. The window of their car was shot out but fortunately Amare and his brother escaped injury. That night, Amare played one of his best games of the season. Amare worked hard to qualify to attend Manual and maintained a high GPA there while being a three-year starter in football. All of that earned him a scholarship to play college football at Southeast Missouri.
LaJuan McAdoo, Madisonville-North Hopkins HS
LaJuan's senior season at Madisonville-North Hopkins was put in jeopardy when he suffered a broken leg in April of 2022. He worked to get back in top shape and finished his high school career as a key two-way player, rushing for 709 yards and 11 touchdowns and recording 27 tackles and two sacks. For his career, LaJuan rushed for more than 26-hundred yards, including an 11-hundred yard season as a junior and these accomplishments led to multiple scholarship offers to play college football. And LaJuan was a solid contributor for the boys' basketball team as well, while maintaining a GPA in excess of 3.5.
Robbie Verst, Bishop Brossart HS
Adversity has been a constant companion during Robbie's high school sports career at Bishop Brossart. As a freshman, a broken back sidelined him for that entire school year. As a sophomore, broken bones in both feet derailed his return to the basketball team and just after making it back for baseball season, he suffered a season-ending wrist injury. As a junior, torn ligaments in a knee ended his high school basketball career. As a senior, Robbie decided to try and make the golf team despite never having played the sport. He succeeded, shot several rounds in the low 40s and helped his team win a 10th Region All 'A' title. Robbie then developed a herniated disc but he overcame that, too, and returned to the baseball diamond and got a hit and stole a base in his first game back.
Zach Brooks, Owen County
Makayla Clark, Raceland
Chloe Cook, Allen County-Scottsville
Tammy Cordell, Boone County
Jalen Dunnavan, North Bullitt
Jalen Dunnavan, North Bullitt
Adam Gibbs, Beechwood
Ben Gloyd, Mayfield
Brandon Hawes, Hopkins County Central
William Knight IV, Marion County
Sydney Martin, Ballard HS
John Carter Myers, Glasgow
Luke Short, Garrard County HS
Walker Smallwood, Dixie Heights
Hillary Smith, South Laurel
Jordan Maddox Smith, Henry Clay
Kaylee "Bella" Spalding, Marion County
Wayne Ziegler, Grant County
Ethan Chenoweth, Hart County
Ronnie Darnell, Bracken County
Jacob Danneman, Covington Catholic
Caleb Hager, Floyd Central
Jacob Heist, Boyle County
Jeremiah Hicks, Holy Cross
Luke Justice, Cooper
Brayden Morris, Muhlenburg County
Isabella Newman, St. Henry
John Curtis Petett, Monroe County
Emma Picklesimer, Raceland
Drake Pyle, North Oldham
Evan Schumacher, Mason County
Abbie Slaughter, Edmonson County
Makala Stambaugh, Jenkins
Reginald Whyte, Jr., Louisville Central
Faith Alford, Walton-Verona
Kate Bale, Assumption
Amy Barry, Sacred Heart Academy
Chloe Boa, Oldham County
Cathryn Brown, Lyon County
Charlie Calvert, Allen County-Scottsville
Preston Dykes, Oldham County
Kaleb Givens, Tates Creek
Katie Heath, Hart County
Torie Lynn Houston, Holy Cross (Covington)
Trey McCoy, Fairdale
Jason 'Blaze' Nalley, Hancock County
Kade Neely, Mayfield
Kaylin Page, Logan County
Hayden Perkins, Muhlenberg County
Ivan Prudencio, duPont Manual
Samantha Rogers, Bourbon County
Cassidy Rowe, Shelby Valley
Abigail Thomas, Danville
Erin Toller, Sacred Heart Academy
Devin Uyhazy, Tates Creek
Rylee Austin, Raceland-Worthington
McKensey Bunch, Tates Creek
Makenzie Burns, Mercer County
Keeton Burnside, Danville
Isaac Dowdy, Hopkins County Central
Anthony Franklin, Bryan Station
Andre Green, Lexington Christian
Grace Hardy, Bourbon
Esmond Morris, McCracken
Lexie Mullins, Buckhorn
Kasia Parks, Frederick Douglas
Dylan Penick, Logan County
Audrey Rawls, Paul Laurence Dunbar
TJ Richardson, St. Francis
Benjamin Spratt, Grant County
Cameron and Cooper Stewart, Butler Traditional
Jasmine Ward, Ft. Campbell
Mia Ying Wright, Hopkins County Central
Dylan Arnett, Magoffin County HS
Tristen Ballinger, Oldham County HS
Webb Bates, Collins HS
Anna Bergman, Holy Cross HS
Grace Bringard, Assumption HS
Ashley Brown, Greenup County HS
Keaton Bryant, Union County HS
Ellie Caffee, Metcalfe County HS
Trey Crump, Mason County HS
Madison Davis, Franklin-Simpson HS
Bradley Fetherston, Tates Creek HS
Molly Franklin, George Rogers Clark HS
Matthew Givens, Green County HS
Matthew Harper, Murray HS
Natalie Hayes, Boyle County HS
Sophia Head, Oldham County HS
Anna Lauren Jacobs, Southwestern HS
Nick Johnson, Edmonson County HS
Ryan Lagestee, Christian Academy of Louisville
Skylar Lewis, Edmonson County
Sophie Metheny, Madisonville-North Hopkins
Caleb Mitchell, Corbin HS
Kristen Mitchell, Bullitt Central HS
Alexis Nelson, St. Francis HS
Tay Offutt, Lewis County HS
Nelson Perrin, Scott HS
Day Po, Butler HS
Tyler Ray, Livingston Central HS
Kristynn Releford, Mercer County HS
Allison Robertson, Notre Dame Academy
Abby Ross, Morgan County HS
Noah Sewell, Mercer County HS
Molly Skaggs, Elliot County HS
Maddie Stokes, Beechwood HS
Kylee Tyson, East Jessamine HS
Gabriel Whitehead, Fort Campbell
Bryce Williams, Bath County HS
Ben Wood, Ohio County HS
Kari Wood, Webster County HS
Travis Austin Bays, Raceland HS
Tyler Beisner, North Oldham HS
Lindsey Duvall, Bullitt East HS
Allison Ellis, Lyon County HS
James Michael England, Middlesboro HS
Haley Harkins, Assumption HS
Lara Klein, Covington Holy Cross HS
Nick Jones, Bracken County HS
Logan Mann, Anderson County HS
Andrew Pajor, Murray HS
Cory Pitsenberger, Eastern HS
Sarah Schmidt, duPont Manual HS
Alex Shea, St. Henry HS
Marquelle Rene Spencer, Dayton HS
Hiroto Takeuchi, Villa Madonna HS
Hunter Ziegelmeyer, Covington Catholic HS