LEXINGTON, Ky. - The 94th annual National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Summer Meeting will take place June 23-27 in Denver, Colo., during which time longtime Kentucky official Jerry Kimmel will be inducted into the NFHS Hall of Fame while Logan County and Magoffin County High Schools will be awarded the 2013 “National High School Spirit of Sport Award.”
Kimmel, who will be inducted into the NFHS Hall of Fame as part of its Class of 2013, recently retired after 56 years as an active official and assigner for the KHSAA. The Beechmont native spent 16 years as a basketball and baseball official (1956-72), during which time he officiated three state baseball tournaments, 15 district, 14 regional and six state basketball tournaments, including four-straight from 1965-68. He was Third Region representative from 1962 through 1972, and Basketball Assigning Secretary from 1972 through 1989, when he accepted the position of Sectional Director with the KHSAA. He served as a Baseball Assigning Secretary for 14 years. He later returned to service as the Basketball Assigner for the 4th Region up until his retirement in 2012.
An innovator in training and development, Kimmel was the first supervisor to use video tape for evaluating and training, and has several of his recommended concepts currently in use in the National Federation Officials Manual. A 25-year veteran of college basketball officiating, Kimmel also served as the Supervisor of Officials for Men and Women in the Great Lakes Valley Conference (NCAA II), a position he began in 1985 and held until 2004.
The National High School Spirit of Sport Award was created by the NFHS to recognize those individuals who exemplify the ideals of the spirit of sport that represent the core mission of education-based athletics. Logan County and Magoffin County High Schools, separated by 281 miles, formed a bond of compassion and friendship following the aftermath of the EF3 tornado that wound through the Appalachian valley and descended upon Salyersville around 11:40 p.m. on March 2, 2012. The tornado began a 49-mile path of destruction that stretched across four counties, destroying buildings, businesses and homes. Both the middle school and high school in Salyersville were condemned following the storms.
The tornado touched down the night before the KHSAA 15th Region girls’ basketball championship game between Magoffin and Paintsville. The championship game was rescheduled for Monday, and despite the heavy toll the storm had take on the team and the community, the Lady Hornets defeated Paintsville, 49-40, to earn a trip to the Houchens Industries/KHSAA Girls’ Sweet Sixteen®. Head coach Scott Castle served as the inspirational leader for his players as they tried to enjoy the thrill of victory despite the devastation around them, proudly proclaiming “One team. One goal. One Promise. We are Magoffin.”
Three days later, Magoffin County opened its stay at the Girls’ Sweet 16® with a 63-59 victory over Ashland Blazer, a school which was also devastated by the tornado. Prior to the game, the two teams gathered at center court for a moment of silence and then celebrated survival.
Watching the game that Thursday night, Logan County coach Scott McAlister was inspired by the undersized but feisty Magoffin County team’s upset of Ashland Blazer. He informed Magoffin County that they could use Logan County’s facility as a “home away from home” to practice, seek refuge or just get away. When the Lady Hornets arrived at Logan County, they were amazed to be greeted by 300 student-athletes who had organized a pep rally and a pizza party in their honor.
The students of Logan County weren’t done yet, however, giving up their own time and at their own expense, to drive 30 miles from Russellville to E.A. Diddle Arena in Bowling Green, where they filled one of the end zones dressed in the Magoffin County school colors for the Lady Hornets’ quarterfinal game. The Logan County contingent enthusiastically supported Magoffin throughout the game with various cheers and chants they had practiced beforehand, creating an electric environment in the arena. Though Magoffin lost the game to Lincoln County, Logan County’s selfless involvement became the big story of the tournament.
Nine months later, the Magoffin students made the decision to return the favor with a surprise appearance at Logan County’s first home game of the 2012-13 season. On December 1, busloads of Magoffin County students made the five-hour drive from Salyersville to Russellville. Only a few Logan County school administrators were aware of Magoffin County’s impending arrival at their game.
As they poured into the gym that night, it was apparent to all in attendance the impact it had on McAlister, who was moved to tears. “When you do the right thing like we did in March, you really don’t expect anything in return,” he said. Though Logan County was not able to win the game that night, all in attendance were enriched by the overwhelming show of support and the bond shared by the two schools.