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Hall class shares laughs, memories

Hall class shares laughs, memories
Hall class shares laughs, memories
The remaining five members of the first Hall of Fame class share a laugh after Richard Clipp, right, tells a funny story of his coaching days. Photos by Brian Smith

The first class inducted into the Corydon Central Athletics Hall of Fame gathered Saturday in the school’s auditorium to officially be introduced to the public.
‘This is quite an honor,’ Tom Preston, one of the six first inductees, said.
Preston, a former athlete and successful girls’ basketball coach, was joined by Richard Clipp, Meghan Bussabarger McVey, Jack Miles, Lynne Johnson Thomas and Kerry Zimmerman.
Corydon Central athletic director John Atkins said he was adamant about starting a Hall of Fame committee and getting the ball rolling. The committee, which features former athletes, administrators and media members, pulled together to vote on the first class.
‘I think this group nailed it,’ Atkins said.
The night opened the floor for each of the inductees to offer a speech. There was plenty of humor to match the serious side of what Corydon Central athletics means to each inductee.
Preston had his start in coaching at Heth-Washington Elementary School with boys’ basketball before eventually taking over the girls’ high school program. He also severed as athletic director.
In 17 years as girls’ hoops coach, Preston guided the Lady Panthers to eight sectional titles.
‘Those were some great times,’ he said. ‘They were very athletic and very hard working. I really enjoyed it.’
Clipp, who coached a variety of sports, most notably started the wrestling program and led it for 37 seasons.
‘I had one basic philosophy,’ Clipp said. ‘While it’s not grammatically correct, it gets to the point: Do the best you can with what you have.’
Clipp provided some stories and laughs about his coaching days. He posted a 1-0 in record as the boys’ tennis coach. Clipp admitted he packed his wedge and some golf balls to work on his golf game while the players won on the courts at Paoli.
With regard to wrestling, Clipp shared the story of a wrestler in his early years making a trip to the emergency room. Not an accomplished wrestler, he ate cupcakes with nuts on them, triggering a peanut allergy. The bus quickly made a stop at a hospital in New Albany for treatment.
‘I went over to the phone booth, put a quarter in and called his parents,’ Clipp said. ‘I said, ‘This is Richard Clipp, the wrestling coach,’ and she said, ‘Harold, I told you he’d get hurt wrestling; it’s the coach!’ She asked what happened and I said, ‘He ate some peanuts’.’
McVey was an accomplished athlete in many sports, achieving honors in basketball, volleyball and track and field.
‘It all started in a pole barn, didn’t it, Papaw,’ McVey said. ‘It started with a lot of hard work. I did gymnastics first, jumping off beds.’
McVey, who went on to excel at Austin Peay University in women’s basketball, thanked her coaches for their patience.
‘This community and support system is remarkable,’ she said. ‘Nobody comes close to them, the fans and coaches.’
Miles helped lead the boys’ golf program to the state final three times as a player. The Panthers won the conference championship all four years, but, to Miles, it was about the team, school and community.
‘I first thought about all the people who have been part of this school,’ Miles said. ‘As participants, coaches, administrators and fans. I have no idea how many people that is, but it figured to be in the thousands. To be among the first six to be inducted is really a great honor.’
Miles said at a senior golf tournament in Columbus in 2005, he was approached by a fellow competitor seeking the answer to a question. The man’s grandson had completed a round of 66 in a high school sectional and all he knew was the record for the lowest round belonged to a person from Corydon. That person was Miles (who shot a 65).
‘Fortunately, that record held for 45 years,’ Miles said. ‘That really isn’t the main thing, but all this guy knew was it was some guy from Corydon. I was still representing my school some 40 years later. That’s a very good feeling.’
Thomas, the school’s all-time leading scorer in girls’ basketball, said she took a lot from her coaches to adulthood.
‘They taught me to be humble in all my accomplishments,’ Thomas said. ‘It has carried me through my life as a teacher, coach and mother. I put those skills to work. I think that’s why sports are so important, to create a good foundation.’
She recalls her grandmother rebounding for her in the gym, showing the family effort she appreciated.
Zimmerman, an accomplished track athlete at Corydon Central and later at Indiana University, pointed to each in the inaugural class for having a positive influence when he became a coach. Examples were Preston, as an athletic director, showing trust without micromanaging. Clipp offered discussions over coaching philosophy and building friendships.
When Zimmerman played golf in the eighth grade, he recalled being upset he wasn’t the low scorer on the team after a match. The reason? Miles, the coach at the time, would give the low scorer on the day a new golf ball.
‘I was devastated,’ Zimmerman said. ‘You wouldn’t think a golf ball would do that, but I wanted that golf ball so bad. When we got home, Jack called me over and pulled a ball out of his pocket and gave it to me … You have to have compassion as a coach, and Jack taught me that.’
One statement from former Corydon Central coach Kent Karnes also stuck with Zimmerman: ‘You make your own breaks.’
Zimmerman, like the other inductees, were thankful for the support of family throughout as an athlete and coach.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, the plaques were hung outside the high school gymnasium.