by John Lynch
For a complete list of the Scholar Athletes please visit:
As I sat in a doctor’s office waiting room last month, eavesdropping on two older men, I piped up when their conversation hit a lull.
“Are your triplets natural?” I asked the man who referred to his 30-year-old daughter (a triplet).
“Yes,” he replied, a little surprised by the question.
“Were they once Scholar Athletes for Lexington Family Magazine?”
A big grin creased his face as Phil Heink said yes again.
Bingo. How could I forget our only Scholar Athlete triplets?
As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Scholar Athlete feature, which is sponsored by Kentucky Utilities, I’ve been busy tracking down past honorees.
That day in the doctor’s office, I was feeling lucky because that morning I read in a local paper about the new releases by Lexington musician Ben Sollee.
His other claim to fame? He was our first ever Scholar Athlete, a cello-playing catcher/outfielder at Winburn Middle.
Back to Phil Heink and his three daughters. Anna, Eleanora and Jeanna were Scholar Athletes in August 1999 when they were soccer-playing seventh graders at Mary Queen of the Holy Rosary.
The day after re-connecting with the Heinks, I was driving to work on a hot August morning when I spotted a young man with a giant Army knapsack strapped to his back. It was so heavy he could barely stand up. Still, he was running on the sidewalk, sweat pouring from his body.
I pulled over, rolled down the window and the runner bounded over to the car greeting me with a big smile. Say hello to Nathan Gillespie. Scholar Athlete, July 2014. Star tennis player at Lafayette High.
Well, you never know where you’ll bump into a former Scholar Athlete.
I have interviewed and written the stories for all 240 of these exceptional teens. (Actually counting siblings, twins and triplets in 240 installments we have had 211 Scholar Athletes).
Meeting these young people has been an exciting project – and my favorite job each month for the magazine.
I have so many fond memories of these interviews. Here are two – 13 years apart. Sam Bowie and Landon Young.
In February 2003, our Scholar Athlete was Samantha Bowie, a seventh grade basketball player at Sayre and the daughter of the former UK and NBA star.
In the middle of the interview, Sam, all seven-foot-something, draped himself across the kitchen island and spoke with passion, insight and sensitivity about a subject close to all of our hearts. No, not the Wildcats – parenting.
That was a memorable moment. Another came in 2016 at Landon Young’s house.
At Lafayette High, Landon was a state wrestling, discus and shot put champion, and also a 6-foot-7, 305-pound All-American offensive tackle now at UK.
Landon was wearing boots, jeans and a huge belt buckle, and spoke with a deep drawl that screamed masculinity.
In the middle of the interview, the conversation turned to… knitting. Landon excels at that too – his grandmother taught him – and he popped out of his chair, grabbed his latest effort (a scarf) and placed it in the center of the table where he and his parents marveled at the stitching and his handiwork.
That too was a memorable moment.
When it comes to memorable moments, my reporter’s notepad runneth over.
Month after month, I arrive at a new home and the front door swings open as I’m ushered inside where families share their stories and express feelings they hold dear. We laugh a lot and more than once a parent choked up.
When I leave I have a bounce in my step because of the compelling material I gleaned for a good story… and because I just enjoyed another fun interview.
So for all those families who have welcomed me into their homes, thank you. Twenty years has been a great ride… and the trip isn’t over yet.
The next 20 years starts this month with a new Scholar Athlete, Amina El-Amin.
Scholar Athlete by School
Dunbar 30, Henry Clay 22, Sayre 21, Lafayette 19, Tates Creek 15, Lexington Catholic 10, The Lexington School 10, Bryan Station Middle 10.
Lexington Christian Academy 8, Morton Middle 8, Trinity 7, Beaumont Middle 7, Bryan Station High 6, West Jessamine High 6.
Woodford County 3, Christ the King 3, Southern Middle 3, Scott County 2, East Jessamine High 2, Jessie Clark Middle 2, Mary Queen of the Holy Rosary 2, SCAPA 2, and 4 homeschoolers.
Most common last name: Mitchell (5) Wilson (4) Young (3) & Davis (3). We also had Tyler Wells and Wells Lawless, plus Jackson Davis, Lauren Davis, Colleen Davis and Davis Dickens.
Famous Sports Parents
Sam Bowie, father of Samantha (February 2003) and a former UK and NBA star.
Frank Minnifield, father of Chase (June 2003) and a former All-Pro defensive back.
Triplets: Anna, Eleanora, Jeanna Heink (August 1999)
Twins: Rebecca & Rachel Fine (August 2015); Kevin and Steven Klein (May 2008), Ali & Hunter Boyd (April 2006); Laurie and Whitney Mitchell (April 2005)
Siblings: Dakhari Campbell & Jazmine Richmond (October 2013), Emily and Connor Haas (September 2008); Brittany and Jonathan Bobbit (December 2005)
Classmates: Katie McCarthy & Dean Tsamas of Sayre (May 2004)
Neighbors: Jonathan Craycraft & Patrick Whalen (July 2001)
Karate mates: J.J. Cutler & Jamal Mohammed (April 1999)
In anticipation of the 20th anniversary of the Scholar Athlete feature, we sent out a call for updates.
The results have taken us to three Olympic Games – Beijing, London, Rio – to the Ivy League, Notre Dame, Stanford, Vanderbilt (and fellow SEC schools Kentucky, Tennessee and Florida). We’ve even gone to colleges in Vermont and Maine.
We’ve also been taken to the investment banking world in Boston, the design world in San Francisco, the NFL, the brink of MLB and the world of professional paddleboarding.
Below is a sampling of those updates with the month and year they were Scholar Athletes. The listings are arranged by the local school they attended.
IN THE BEGINNING… THERE WAS BEN SOLLEE
Our first Scholar Athlete was Ben Sollee (August 1997), a 14-year-old baseball player who happened to play cello. Look at him now (second from left). Ben is a singer-songwriter and composer known for his innovative playing style, memorable performances and political activism.
Ben often rides his bicycle to shows. In the summer of 2009, he traveled 330 miles to the Bonnaroo festival with his supplies and cello strapped to his bicycle.
Ben has been profiled on NPR, PBS, the Wall Street Journal and countless music magazines… and Lexington Family Magazine.
Reilly Teal (April 2015) plays soccer at Indiana State on an athletic/academic scholarship. A Dean’s List member in the Honors Program, Reilly has 3.96 GPA and plans to graduate in three years and enter the school’s graduate program in Criminal Justice.
A volunteer with Special Olympics, Reilly also is a member of the Student Athletic Advisory Committee and a national criminal justice association. This summer she completed an internship with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Indianapolis and plans to become a Special Agent in Federal law enforcement.
A golfer in high school, Corey Lockridge (October 2012) was co-captain of the ultimate frisbee team at Vanderbilt where he graduated Cum Laude in May with degrees in Math and Economics. He enters Vanderbilt’s Owen Graduate School of Management this fall.
Alyssa Montgomery (January 2015) is a member of the Division I Tennessee Tech soccer team and is on track to graduate a year early with a Computer Science degree. She has a 3.6 GPA, has made the TTU honor roll all four semesters and is a teaching assistant in the Computer Science department. She also has competed in 5K, 10K and half-marathon races, finishing first among females in eight events in little over a year. This year, she placed first in powerlifting and fifth in Crossfit competitions.
Samantha Bowie (February 2003), the daughter of former UK star Sam Bowie, earned double degrees at Vanderbilt in political science and Spanish with a minor in marketing. Back in Lexington, she connected with UK women’s basketball Coach Matthew Mitchell and his wife Jenna and launched the Mitchell Family Foundation that promotes character and strong values. The Foundation has a mentoring program in four city middle schools that matches sixth graders with trained UK students. The Foundation is also hosting a leadership event at Memorial Coliseum on Sept. 19 at 7 p.m. featuring speakers John Maxwell and Coach Mitchell. The event is free to all students.
A 6-foot-7 pitcher and basketball player, Ray Brewer (June 2013) pitched for two years at Cornell before elbow problems ended his baseball career. He graduated in May with a psychology degree with a minor in business and now works for an investment firm in Boston.
A six-time State champion in track and cross-country in high school, Maddox Patterson (September 2011) is a junior on the Florida cross-country team. She was one of two runners who ran in every cross- country meet her freshman and sophomore years for the Gators and was selected to the SEC All Academic team. She has a 3.5 GPA in business.
Madison Mitchell (May 2011) graduated from Tennessee in 2016 with a degree in interior design and works as a commercial designer for an architecture firm in San Francisco where she regularly rides her bike to work. She enjoys skiing in Tahoe and played last year in a volleyball league.
Courtney Mims (July 2016) is a pre-med major at Oakwood University in Alabama where she plays volleyball. At Sayre, she was a member of the National, Spanish and Mathematics honor societies.
Madeline Rolph (August 2013) is a junior pre-med major at Bowdoin College in Maine where she plays on the school’s Division III tennis team. She rejected D-I offers when she realized tennis would interfere with her science labs. Bowdoin reached the NCAA semifinals during her freshman year.
Look for No. 67 on the UK football team this fall. Landon Young (May 2016) figures to start at offensive tackle for the Wildcats. The 6-foot-7, 305-pound sophomore was a high school All-American and was a state champion in wrestling, discus and shot put.
Will Sallee (July 2013) is entering his senior year at EKU where he has a 3.35 GPA and has twice made the OVC All-Conference golf team. He placed second in the 2016 OVC Tournament and third in this year’s tournament. In 2015, Will won the Lexington City’s Men’s Championship with a record score of 14 under par.
Nathan Gillespie (July 2014) is a senior engineering major at UK in the Army ROTC program. He runs 6-10 miles a day with a 60-pound rucksack strapped to his back. He will be a lieutenant in the Army after he graduates.
Caleb Joy (September 2014) is a sophomore at Indiana Wesleyan University on an academic/athletic scholarship and runs cross-country and track. A Dean’s List member, he is a double major in Secondary Education and History.
The Mr. Basketball runner-up in 2014, Jackson Davis (February 2014) signed with Butler and then transferred to EKU where he will play this season after competing this summer in the Goodwill Games in Spain. A junior athletically, he’s a senior academically with a 3.2 GPA in Business. He plans to earn his MBA after graduation.
Trinity Christian Academy
An avid intramural sports enthusiast and a 4.0 student in Chemical Engineering at Asbury, Harrison Williams (August 16) will be a Tag Leader as a sophomore. These students are carefully screened and selected to serve as leaders and mentors for incoming freshmen during the weeks before school starts and offer friendship and support throughout the year.
Shelby Anderson (February 2013) played four years of volleyball at Asbury and graduated in May with a degree in Pre-Physical Therapy/Pre-Occupational Therapy. She has entered the Occupational Therapy doctorate program at Belmont University in Nashville and plans a career as a pediatric occupational therapist.
According to Selena The (January 2010), her background in athletics (soccer, tennis, martial arts) “taught me the importance of discipline, perseverance and team work. I am using those skills now as I attend the University of Louisville School of Medicine. I have traveled to 16 countries and still enjoy being active and staying healthy. My favorite workout is taking my mom’s Pilates reformer class. I believe, and will instill in my future patients, that an active lifestyle at every age is vital to staying healthy and happy.”
Nick Laureano (December 2011) ran cross-country and track for two years at Notre Dame where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Magna Cum Laude in 2017. He will attend graduate school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Media and Cultural Studies.
A four-year starter on the Lexington Catholic baseball team, Tyler Wells (April 2007 / Sts. Peter and Paul) was drafted by the Red Sox in 2011. Instead of signing, he played baseball at Ohio University and graduated Cum Laude in 2015. His senior year, Ohio won the MAC title. He interned for six months at historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Fla., and now is the director of events and instruction with GameDay USA in Illinois.
Anna, Eleanora and Jeanna Heink (August 1999 Mary, Queen of the Holy Rosary) the former soccer players and Lexington Catholic grads are now 30. Anna was the captain of the Dayton crew team, earned undergraduate degrees in Biology and Psychology and earned a master’s in Zoology at Washington State. After graduating, she walked the Camino to Santiago trail, 480 miles from France into Spain that took 25 days. She was a researcher Cincinnati Children’s Hospital for five years before enrolling at UK medical school… Eleanora Heink Denning earned a classics degree as an honor student at Xavier University and played trombone in the university band. She now teaches high school Latin in Cincinnati and plays mandolin in two bluegrass bands… Jeanna Heink Panella was co-captain of the Dayton cross-country team with Anna and also rowed on the crew team with her sister. Jeanna graduated with a Chemical Engineering degree, worked in Arizona before moving to Akron. Jeanna also ran in the Boston Marathon.
Claire Wilhite (January 2016) is a Dietetics major at UK where she is a Dean’s List member and has a 3.85 GPA. She volunteers at the Ronald McDonald House and was a Dance Blue fundraiser and committee member. She played on her sorority’s intramural soccer team that won the sorority tournament title.
The Lexington School
Chase Minnifield (June / 2003) played at Henry Clay and then at Virginia before being drafted by the Washington Redskins. Injuries derailed his career after three seasons. Now, in Lexington, he runs the Chase Minnifield Foundation, the Minnifield Football Academy, and is a consultant, life coach and motivational speaker.
A 2017 Cum Laude graduate in Sociology from Bellarmine University, Serena Sandusky (March 2006) had transferred from Butler University. She was a Dean’s List member at Bellarmine and won the Faculty Merit Award in Criminal Justice Studies. Serena played basketball for the Lady Knights, who made back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances and won a conference championship (2015-16). She is a Special Education Paraeducator at Frederick Douglass High where she is an assistant coach for the girls basketball team.
East Jessamine High
Emma Young (April 2016) started 21 games and appeared in all 32 as a freshman for the Division I Texas A&M Corpus Christi basketball team. She averaged 6 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists, and scored double figures in seven games with a career high of 17. Said Coach Royce Chadwick: “Emma established herself as one of our team’s toughest players… and played multiple positions. Her versatility is a nightmare for opponents.” A Nursing major, she ended her freshman year with 37 credit hours and a 3.2 GPA.
Entering his junior year at Notre Dame, Thomas Ueland (March 2015) has been named to the ACC Academic Honor Roll for two years. As a freshman, he played in all 22 soccer matches – the only Irish freshman to see official game action in 2015. Of his four goals, two were game winners, including a 1-0 victory in the ACC semifinals in front of 5,000 fans at No. 1 Wake Forest. Last season, cut short by injury, he scored two goals and added an assist.
A goalie, Kayla Price (July 2010) played at UK for two years before injuries ended her soccer career. She was an All-SEC Honor Roll member four years and worked as an assistant coach for the Henry Clay girls team. She graduated in 2015 with a degree in Kinesiology and is working toward a master’s in Occupational Therapy at the University of St. Augustine Health Sciences School in Florida.
A two-sport athlete in high school, Andrew Kirk (November 2010) still plays golf regularly and has run a marathon. A UK graduate in Chemical Engineering, he has enrolled in UK medical school. As an undergraduate, he was a Homecoming King finalist in 2015 and was involved with Campus Outreach.
Andrew Herring (June 2010) graduated in 2015 from Kenyon College where he played tennis for four years and was an Academic All-American. Now an account executive with Fisher Investments in San Francisco, he is a member of the Olympic Club and plays tennis up to six times a week.
Walker Buehler (July 2012) is our first Scholar Athlete selected in the first round of the Major League Baseball draft. After pitching for three years at Vanderbilt, which reached the College World Series two years in a two, he signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers and has advanced to the team’s Triple A team in Oklahoma. At the trading deadline in July, the Dodgers let it be known that Walker, who clocks up to 98 mph with his fastball, was untouchable.
Brother and sister Dakhari Campbell & Jazmine Richmond (October 2013) attended Kentucky State University as freshmen before Dakhari, who ran track at KSU, transferred to UK where he is a Dean’s List member in Agricultural Economics. He earned a William C. Parker scholarship and holds a leadership position for MANNARS (Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences). Jazmine is a four-year Renaissance Scholar recipient and a straight-A student.
Tates Creek High
A junior at UK, Ben Young (December 2014) runs cross-country and track, and made the SEC All-Freshman cross-country team and ran the anchor leg for the men’s medley relay team that finished fourth at the 2017 Indoor SEC championships. Ben has a 3.88 GPA in the Honors College and is pursuing a double major in Mathematical Economics and Accounting.
Julia Loveday (December 2015) played volleyball as a freshman at North Carolina Asheville and had a 3.6 GPA in her first semester.
The class Valectorian, Maddie Covey (September 2016) was the 2017 Fayette County Rotary Scholar. An All-City soccer player, she will play for Centre College this fall.
Lex. Christian Academy
Hunter Stewart (November 2007) was Kentucky Mr. Golf in high school and starred at Vanderbilt where as a senior he was SEC Player of the Year, first team All-American and Vanderbilt male Athlete of the Year. He played on the U.S. Walker Cup team and qualified for the 2014 U.S. Open and missed the cut by one stroke.
After graduating with a degree in Economics, he turned professional, playing in eight PGA events in 2016 and is now a member of PGA Tour Canada.
A sophomore majoring in Sports Management at Morehead State, Gypsie Hutchinson (September 2015) recorded a top four, top 10 and a Top 20 in Eagle golf tournaments. Her scoring average ranked 22nd in the OVC. Over the summer, she competed in a U.S. Women’s Open qualifier, the Women’s Western Golf Championship and the women’s State Amateur while working an internship of the Kentucky Junior PGA.
The Salutatorian of the 2012 class at LCA, Catherine Roach (March 2012) graduated Summa Cum Laude in 2016 from Washington and Lee University in Virginia with degrees in European History and Business Administration & Accounting. She co-founded The Spectator Magazine on campus before earning a master’s degree in Professional Accounting from the University of Texas. In October, she starts at PricewaterhouseCoopers in New York.
Bryan Station High
A graduate of the University of Vermont, Shelby Taylor (August 2006) switched climates, moving to Sayulita, Mexico where she teaches ESL at the Costa Verde International School. A professional Stand Up Paddleboard racer, she competed around the globe for two years rising to No. 9 in the world rankings. Shelby and her partner Javier Jimenez then started the Sayulita Youth Paddleboard Team that currently has 70 members, 7-18 years old. Team members commit to three hours of community service a week and must maintain a “B” average to participate in team activities.
A State bowling champion in high school, Crystal Land (January 2013) received a partial bowling scholarship to Campbellsville University where she has maintained a 4.0 GPA in Marketing for three years. As a freshman, she won the Mid-South College Conference Doubles Championship and placed fourth in singles. In the Junior Gold Bowling Competition that summer, she finished 26th out of 800 females. As a sophomore, she qualified for the College Nations in Wichita and placed 12th. Last year, she led Campbellsville to the conference championship.
Ali & Hunter Boyd (April 2006 / Southside Elementary). Ali graduated from WKU this year and is a Divemaster in Florida while working in marketing for a new sunscreen product. Her twin brother Hunter has a 3.85 GPA with one semester remaining at UK. He has coached the Spindletop youth swim club while in college and plans to pursue a master’s degree in Colorado.