Mountain Sports Hall of Fame in development
Published 12:00 pm Saturday, June 18, 2022
BY MATT CIZEK
Way back when, before ending their tenure with a 64-59 loss to Shelby County in the 1965 boys’ state tournament, Clark County/George Rogers Clark High School competed in the 16th Region.
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Along with winning its now second most-recent KHSAA State Basketball Championship, the school one its first in 1951 with a team led by Coach Letcher Norton and Linville Puckett, the Cards boys’ basketball team alone won eleven 16th Region Championships.
Now, a place where legends will live on and their exploits showcased for future generations to enjoy is in development.
In Wayland, located in Floyd County, – home of all-time Kentucky high school scoring champion “King” Kelly Coleman – the Mountain Sports Hall of Fame will honor those that made an impact in eastern Kentucky athletic lore.
Director Jerry Fultz, who is also the mayor of Wayland, was largely inspired by the story of individuals like Charlie Osborne.
Despite finishing his high school playing days in the 1950s as the state’s second all-time leading scorer, Osborne was not inducted into the Kentucky High School Basketball Hall of Fame until 2017.
“We had this vision years ago,” said Fultz. “[Our thought] was the recognition of some mountain athletes that maybe were not realized.”
While all teams of the 13th through 16th Regions are celebrated, memories can fade with time.
“We don’t want to lose our history with our young people, so this is an opportunity to bring the younger generation into what the lore is,” said the hall of fame’s business director Herb Triplett. “When people think of sports in eastern Kentucky they think of basketball, but we have so many great athletes that come out of here.”
Among them is Johnnie LeMaster, a Paintsville native who played over 10 years of professional baseball and is a member of the San Francisco Giants Wall of Fame.
An advisory board with extensive knowledge going back approximately 100 years includes the aforementioned LeMaster, along with UK greats Larry Conley, Jeff Shepherd, Richie Farmer, and more.
Historically, the Cards of what was then Clark County High School were a dominant force in the region during the late 1940s and early 1950s.
The Lady Cards also succeeded, en route to having the third most wins of any high school girls basketball team in Kentucky according to local sports historian Mike Rogers, who sits on the 16th Region advisory board.
“It’s sort of amazing that the [16th] Region went all the way from Winchester to West Virginia,” Rogers said. “Can you imagine taking a high school team to Ashland for a game up there? At the time, there was only U.S [Route] 60. There was no interstate.”
Currently, the basketball court at the old Wayland High School gym presents a 1950s look, hearkening back to the days of George Mikan and Jerry West.
The second-floor showcases memorabilia from decades ago, with Winchester additions welcome.
Knott County Central and Floyd Central High schools will suit up at the arena on February 3 to bring back an old-time feeling to the modern high school game.
The organization hopes for continued renovations for the historic old gym, including second-floor bathrooms and concessions inside the 1937-built gym.