East Ridge High School Volleyball Coach Catherine Neely is part of the 30th class of the National High School Hall of Fame which will be inducted on Wednesday, July 11, at the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville.
Kevin Johnson and Fred Hoiberg standout high school athletes in California and Iowa, respectively, and in the National Basketball Association – along with Bob Kanaby, longtime executive director of the National Federation of State High School Association, headline the 2012 class of the National High School Hall of Fame.
Joining Johnson and Hoiberg as athletes in the 2012 class are Pat Sullivan, two-time all-state quarterback from Birmingham, Alabama, who later won the Heisman Trophy at Auburn University, and Tracy Hill, the most prolific scorer in Colorado girls basketball history from Ridgway High School.
These five individuals, along with four high school coaches, two officials and one high school speech coach, will be inducted into the NFHS National High School Hall of Fame July 11 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville. The 30th Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will be the closing event of the 93rd annual NFHS Summer Meeting.
High school coaches slated for induction this year include Ron Bradley, who won more than 1,000 basketball games at eight Georgia high schools during a 50-year career; Rod Harman, who just completed his 56th season as a head swimming coach in Oregon at the age of 85; Larry Luitjens, the winningest basketball coach in South Dakota history from Custer High School; and Catherine Neely, who has coached volleyball at East Ridge High School for 48 years and ranks third nationally with 1,371 victories.
Truman Owens, a multi-sport official for 50 years from Clinton, S.C., who is still active in football at the age of 80, and Robert “Bob” White, one of the top high school soccer officials in the nation from Caribou, Maine, are this year’s honorees in the Officials category.
Rounding out the 2012 class is Jan Heiteen, speech coach at Downers Grove (Illinois) South High School since 1980 who has led her teams to 16 Illinois High School Association state speech championships.
The National High School Hall of Fame was started in 1982 by the NFHS to honor high school athletes, coaches, contest officials, administrators, performing arts coaches/directors and others for their extraordinary achievements and accomplishments in high school sports and activity programs. This year’s class increases the number in the Hall of Fame to 398.
The 12 individuals were chosen after a two-level selection process involving a screening committee composed of active high school state association administrators, coaches and officials, and a final selection committee composed of coaches, former athletes, state association officials, media representatives and educational leaders. Nominations were made through NFHS member associations.
Johnson, Hoiberg and Sullivan have followed similar career paths by returning to their hometowns as professionals – Hoiberg and Sullivan as college coaches and Johnson as a political leader.
Kevin Johnson led the state of California in scoring in basketball as a senior at Sacramento High School in 1983 with a 32.5 points-per-game average. He also excelled in baseball and was drafted by the Oakland A’s. After an outstanding basketball career at the University of California, Berkeley, Johnson played 13 years in the NBA, primarily with the Phoenix Suns, and he participated in three NBA all-star games. After founding and directing St. Hope, a non-profit community organization to re-vitalize inner-city communities through public education, Johnson was elected mayor of Sacramento in 2008 and has been recognized as one of the nation’s top city leaders. He recently was re-elected for a second term in office.
While Kevin Johnson is a mayor, Fred Hoiberg has been affectionately called “mayor” because he received write-in votes while in college at Iowa State University. Hoiberg was an outstanding three-sport (football, basketball and track) athlete at Ames High School from 1989 to 1991. In basketball, he led Ames High School to the 1991 state championship, averaged 29.8 points per game and was named Mr. Basketball. In football, he was the quarterback for two state playoff teams and is the school’s career leader in passing yards and total offense. In track, he helped Ames High to three state championships. He was a four-year starter on the Iowa State basketball team and then played 10 years in the NBA with Indiana, Chicago and Minnesota. Last year, he returned home to coach the Iowa State Cyclones’ basketball team.
Pat Sullivan was the top football player in the state of Alabama in his junior and senior seasons (1967, 1968) as the quarterback at John Carroll High School in Birmingham. He was a two-time all-state selection and was named the top player in the nation by one publication. Sullivan also was named all-state twice in basketball, averaging 18 points per game as the team’s point guard, and in baseball as the team’s shortstop. He then led Auburn to a 26-7 record in three years as the team’s quarterback and won the Heisman Trophy in 1971. Sullivan played parts of seven seasons in the National Football League before launching his college coaching career. After serving as an assistant at Auburn and the University of Alabama, Birmingham, and head coach at Texas Christian University, Sullivan was named head football coach at Samford University in Birmingham in 2006.
Tracy Hill scored 2,934 points in four years (1980-83) at Ridgway (Colorado) High School and remains the top scorer in Colorado girls basketball history. After averaging 15.4 points as a freshman, Hill averaged 33.4 points per game as a sophomore, 38.7 as a junior and 44.6 as a senior – all before the three-point shot. She retired with 21 state records and still holds 17 today. After playing at the University of Missouri, Central Wyoming College and Montana State University, Hill played professionally in Australia and was Tasmanian Player of the Year in 1991. She then returned to Colorado and coached at Nucla High School, leading her team to the 1998 state title.
Ron Bradley retired in 2010 after a 50-year coaching career at eight schools in Georgia. He finished with a 1,019-322 mark in boys basketball and 353-91 record in girls basketball. His 1,019 victories in boys basketball ranks eighth all-time nationally. Bradley, whose longest coaching stints were at Newton County High School (21 years) and George Walton Academy (12 years), won three state championships in boys basketball. He also coached football and baseball.
Rod Harman has coached girls and boys swimming at three Beaverton, Oregon, schools since 1957, and has won eight state championships along the way – two boys titles and six girls titles. Harman coached 36 years at Beaverton High School, 10 years at Beaverton Aloha High School and the past nine years at Beaverton Southridge High School. His overall dual-meet record is 278-76.
Larry Luitjens has compiled a 704-283 record in 41 years as a head basketball coach (40 in South Dakota). After one year in North Dakota and four years at DeSmet High School, Luitjens has coached 36 seasons at Custer High School. His teams have won seven state championships and finished second five other times. Off the court, Luitjens has been instrumental in reconciliation efforts with Native American schools in South Dakota.
Catherine Neely recently completed her 48th season as volleyball coach as East Ridge High School and has a career record of 1,371-628. Her teams have won two state championships, finished runner-up two other times and claimed 16 sectional championships. Neely also coached basketball at East Ridge for 43 years, compiling a 625-364 record, and was athletic director for 20 years as well.
Truman Owens has officiated 858 football games during his 50-year career in South Carolina, including 32 state championships. In basketball, Owens worked almost 2,900 games, including 450 playoff games and 23 state championships. He also officiated baseball for 46 years and softball for 23 years. The Clinton resident has also been active in recruiting and training new officials. His brother, Sam Owens, was inducted into the National High School Hall of Fame in 1999.
Robert “Bob” White officiated soccer in the state of Maine for 31 years, including 17 state championships. White, who resides in Caribou, was the state’s soccer rules interpreter for 28 years and is a charter member of the Maine Association of Soccer Officials. Nationally, White was a member of the NFHS Officials Association Board of Directors.
Bob Kanaby retired as executive director of the NFHS in May 2010 after an outstanding 17-year career directing the nation’s leadership organization for high school athletic and performing arts activities. Prior to joining the NFHS in 1993, Kanaby was executive director of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association for 13 years, after serving as a teacher, coach, vice principal and principal for 23 years. During his 17 years with the NFHS, Kanaby was instrumental in creating a stronger national presence of the organization, which included moving the organization from Kansas City, Missouri, to Indianapolis, Indiana, in 2000. He was responsible for starting the NFHS Foundation, citizenship programs, steroid awareness materials, the T-Mobile Invitational basketball tournament and the NFHS Authenticating Mark Program. In addition, the highly successful NFHS Coach Education Program was started during Kanaby’s tenure.
Jan Heiteen has served as head speech coach and drama director at Downers Grove South High School in Illinois for 32 years. In addition to her 16 team state championships in speech, Heiteen’s students have been involved in more than 70 state individual championships. As the drama director, she has been responsible for more than 80 plays, musicals and talent shows. In 2009, Heiteen was inducted into the National Forensic League Hall of Fame.