Charter members of Logan Hall of Fame named
By Jim Turner


Posted on December 16, 2014 10:43 PM



A world champion, a national champion, five professional athletes, a national award winner, a two-time NCAA Regional MVP, a state tournament MVP, and the rock Logan County High School relied on in its early years are all part of the Inaugural Class of the Cougar Athletic Foundation Hall of Fame.

Athletes, coaches and supporters are eligible from over 80 years of sports in the Logan County School District, including Logan County High School since 1982. Active coaches and athletes are not eligible yet.

After considering dozens of candidates to be the first inductees of the Hall of Fame which is being organized by the relatively new Logan County Cougar Athletic Foundation, a committee selected nine people with sparkling credentials to be the charter members.

A reception and induction ceremony will be held at LCHS on Friday, Feb. 6 between games of the Clash of the Cats. This has become a tradition at Russellville High School, which started its Russellville Alumni Hall of Fame about a decade ago, and usually inducts its newest members at its home Clash.

In alphabetical order the inductees are Bob Birdwhistell, Brenda Chapman (Strickler), Terry Clayton, Lee Dockins, Joseph Jefferson, Lillie Mason, Katherine Neeley (Murrie), Mark Thompson and Fred Tisdale.

A brief look at the historic group in order of their graduating classes:

Brenda Chapman, Olmstead, Class of 1973. She came along before girls basketball was mandated in Kentucky two years later, but Principal John McCarley said then she was the best guard in school, boys or girls. So, McCarley started a tennis team, and Chapman won the region singles championship her junior and senior years. She played number one on the WKU tennis team for two years and then gave up the sport to join the revived basketball program. She played for Coach Julia Yeater’s Lady Toppers for three years and became the program’s all-time leading scorer. After that, she played in a women’s professional basketball league and was named both MVP and Rookie of the Year for the entire league. An accountant, she is married to Auburn native Bud Strickler.

Lillie Mason, Olmstead Class of 1981. The Ramblerettes won the district basketball championship all seven years she played under coaches Denny Milam and Lugene Rogers. She was named Miss Basketball for the state of Kentucky. She was recruited to play at Western by Coach Eileen Canty (now Eileen Coleman of Olmstead), and was the first in a long line of Miss Basketballs on the Hill. Most of her career she played under Coach Paul Sanderford, after taking a medical redshirt. That gave her two years to play with former Warren Central stars Clemmette Haskins and Melinda Carlson and former Warren star Kami Thomas. In her junior year of 1985, Mason hit the “shot hear around the world” to upset the nation’s number one team, Texas, at Diddle Arena. She was named MVP of the Mideast Regional while leading the Lady Toppers to the Final Four at Austin, Texas. The next year, Sanderford’s team was sent north but won the East Regional, where Logan’s Lillie was MVP again. In that Final Four, the Lady Toppers played the number one team, Cheryl Miller-led Southern Cal, at Rupp Arena. A three-time All-American, Mason was Western’s leading scorer and rebounder for decades. Only the great Jim McDaniel had scored more points on The Hill until Crystal Kelley came along.

Fred Tisdale, LCHS Class of 1984. Already a three-year standout before consolidation, Fred and classmate Tim Viers were instrumental in Coach Barry Reed’s Auburn Tigers reaching the regional finals in the last boys game ever played by a non-consolidated Logan boys team. Tisdale missed the first few weeks for the first Cougar team with an injury, but returned with a vengeance. He went on to lead the 1984 team to the state championship, the first school to win the Sweet Sixteen in its second year of existence. Fred was named MVP of the state tournament and was runner-up to his future teammate at WKU, Henry Clay’s Steve Miller, for Mr. Basketball. He was, of course, all-state. He was recruited to Western by Coach Clem Haskins and started for the Toppers in the NIT at Madison Square Garden. He also played for Coach Murray Arnold at Western, and later played pro ball in South America. He was named one of the 50 Greatest Players in Sweet Sixteen history at the turn of the century.

Mark Thompson, LCHS Class of 1989. He was an excellent kicker on the football team and a prolific scorer for Reed in basketball, but it was in basketball he made his fame and his living. He led Coach David Billingsley’s Cougars to their first regional championship as a senior. Thompson also pitched a win in the sub-state tournament at Owensboro. He was recruited to pitch for the University of Kentucky by Coach Keith Madison and became a starter for the Wildcats. When major league baseball expanded, Thompson became the number two pick ever by the Colorado Rockies in 1992. He was the franchise’s first pitcher of the year and became the Rockies’ first draft pick to reach the majors. Over the years he was a starter for both the Rockies and the St. Louis Cardinals. He won the first game ever played at Coors Field in relief. He spent several years teaching baseball and was pitching coach in the Rockies minor leagues before going into business in Bowling Green.

Joseph Jefferson, LCHS Class of 1998. Jefferson was ferocious for Coach Les May’s football team on both offense and defense. He was the leader of the “A’town Posse” from Adairville during the best years so far of Cougar football. He was named MVP of the Kentucky team which played Tennessee during the summer. He then played four years for Coach Jack Harbaugh at Western, as a starter in the secondary and the return man on special teams. He was drafted in the third round of the 2002 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts, still the highest pick in WKU football history. He became a starter in the Colts’ defensive backfield for Coach Tony Dungy before injuries ended his career. He has been active in youth football in the Indianapolis area. Jumpin’, Joltin’ Joe Jefferson was also a standout in track and on the basketball court at LCHS.

Katherine Neeley, LCHS Class of 1999. Throughout her school years, Neeley got better and better on the golf course. She was a consistent winner in highly competitive junior leagues during the summer points, and put it all together to win the Kentucky state tournament as a senior under Coach Ethan Meguiar. She was an all-stater in the sport and spent her first college year playing for the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, an NCAA Division I team. After that, she transferred to Lipscomb University and won the NAIA national championship while playing for the Lady Bisons. She considered a pro golf career and worked at the legendary Belle Meade Country Club in Nashville, but decided on a career in business. Her husband, Jason Murrie, is the son of former WKU baseball coach Joel Murrie.

Terry Clayton, LCHS Class of 2003. He was known at Olmstead Middle School as a long-range shooter in basketball, but it was in football that he made his name. He was an outstanding running back and linebacker for Coach Lee Proctor’s Cougars. Clayton went on to play football at the University of Kentucky for Coach Rich Brooks, becoming one of the most popular and respected players on the Wildcat team. At LCHS, in the East-West All-Star game, and at UK, he needed hearing assistance from Karen Harris and other trained interpreters because of severe deafness. He never let it get him down, though, and as a senior he won a national award for excellence in overcoming a physical handicap. He was a member of Coach Steve Duncan’s coaching staff for this year’s Cougars.

Lee Dockins, LCHS Class of 2006. A cheerleader and often the Cougar mascot at LCHS, Lee is best known for her performances in Special Olympics Rhythmic gymnastics competition. She has won gold medals in Shanghai, China and Athens, Greece. After winning the gold medal (her fifth World gold) in the all-round competition at the World Games, she became the world’s best Special Olympics gymnast. She now has added a different kind of gymnastics, Artistic, and won two gold medals and two silvers in the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games in New Jersey. She will compete in her third World Games next year in Los Angeles. Her mother, Sharon Dockins, was her cheerleading coach at LCHS while Donnie and Polly Porter of Logan County Gymnastics are her coaches on the mat and parallel bars. She has been working as an aide at LCHS.

 

Bob Birdwhistell  was the Lewisburg boys basketball coach from 1962-76, also coaching baseball, tennis and track at various times. His last Ranger team won the district championship and then lost in the regional to Edmonson County, which went on to win the state championship. But it’s not for coaching alone that he’s going into the Hall of Fame. Upon the recommendation of Auburn coaching great and first LCHS principal Howard Gorrell, he was chosen athletic director and assistant principal when Logan County High School was created. He and the coaches he led smoothly orchestrated the consolidation of five high schools that had been competitors for decades. As AD, Birdwhistell oversaw the formation of football, track and tennis teams composed of young athletes who had not played the sport before. In the school’s first year, Coach Jim Thompson’s Lady Cougar basketball team reached the regional finals before losing to eventual state champion Warren Central, Billingsley’s baseball team dominated the district, and Coach Steve Eans’ football team was playing a varsity schedule within three years. But more than anything else in sports, he was the athletic director as Coach Gerald Sinclair’s Cougars won the state basketball championship. When Gorrell resigned to become superintendent of his native Todd County Schools, Birdwhistell became principal and served in that capacity into the early 90s. He became the face of Logan County High School and is still one of the most beloved senior citizens in Logan County.




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