Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local Sports

January 3, 2013

MARK MAYNARD: Hart embraced tradition, community

ASHLAND — Leon Hart came to Ashland 10 years ago not only to be vested in a high school football program but a community.

His retirement on Thursday will leave a void in both areas.

Everybody knows Leon Hart the football coach. He guided the Tomcats’ program to 78 victories and nine playoff appearances in 10 seasons. Exciting victories over rivals Russell, Ironton and Johnson Central will be most remembered by the fans.

Two of his quarterbacks, Ian Holbrook and Sam Hunter, rewrote the Tomcat record books.

But he was far more than a football coach to the Ashland community.

A special education teacher in the school system, he made an impact on more students than football players in his 10 years here. Those special ed students absolutely adored Leon Hart. I saw it firsthand a few years ago when they had a birthday party for their then 60-year-old coach at Poage Elementary. They loved him not because he was the Tomcats’ football coach – one boy even asked him if he went to the game last Friday when Ashland beat Ironton – but because he sincerely loved them back.

He taught his football players not just about the game itself but life. They learned a lot from Leon Hart.

Ashland’s players participated in the Salvation Army bell ringing campaign and cleaned up yards during the city’s Repair Affair. They also worked the Special Olympics in the area and came to know their coaching staff not just as coaches but friends.

He leaves a legacy of coaching and service with his retirement.

Not surprisingly, Leon Hart is retiring not because he’s too old to do the job. The 62-year-old coach is retiring so he can spend more time with his aging parents, both 84 and living in Mansfield, Ohio. His father is ill and isn’t getting better. He also has grandchildren in Burlington, N.C. Neither place is exactly a hop, skip and a jump from Ashland.

Text Only
Local Sports
  • 0420chattin0397.jpg Pole vaulters conquer wind in Chattin

    For obvious reasons, pole vaulting records and windy conditions don’t go together.
    Raceland’s Connor Messer and Fairview’s Morgan McIntyre raised the bar anyway at Saturday’s Ernie Chattin Memorial Invitational.
    Despite a windy challenge — especially for Messer — on the hilltop at Ashland Athletic Complex, both athletes set new pole vault marks for the 11-year-old meet and received Outstanding Performance awards.

    April 20, 2014 5 Photos

  • 0415eastSB0170 copy.jpg Stock soaring for East eighth-grader Fouts

    With a name like Montana, you just have to go big.
    Six-foot eighth-grader Montana Fouts isn't a big talker, but when it comes to the business of softball, her skills convey a loud and clear message.
    The East Carter pitcher is making herself a can't-pass-up commodity with her flawless throwing form and sizzling speed.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lewis snaps 4-game skid, beats Ashland, 2-0

    Question: What four-game Lewis County losing streak?

    Answer: the one the Lions snapped Saturday by knocking off visiting Ashland, 2-0, in the third annual Lewis County Autism Awareness game.

    April 20, 2014

  • HIGH SCHOOL ROUNDUP: Hensley fires 2nd no-no in 2 days, Kittens split

    Ashland junior Megan Hensley no-hit Portsmouth West on Saturday, one day after dealing a perfect game, as the Kittens beat the Lady Senators 16-0 in five innings at the Valley of Thunder at Symmes Valley.

    April 19, 2014

  • west.JPG Streak snapped: Comets end 40-game losing streak to Raiders

    Nineteen years and 40 games between East Carter and West Carter have passed since the Comets have beaten the Raiders.
    Montell Jordan’s “This Is How We Do It” was the No. 1 song the last time West got a win over East.
    The visiting Comets ended almost 20 years of futility against the Raiders in dominating fashion on Friday night, defeating East Carter, 8-0.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Williams steps down as Lady Vikings coach

    Jen Williams did not make this decision lightly.

    April 19, 2014

  • HIGH SCHOOL ROUNDUP: Hensley spins perfect game

    Ashland’s Megan Hensley fired a perfect game and drove in the only runs of the game with a two-run homer as the Kittens topped Upper Arlington (Ohio) 2-0 in the Valley of Thunder at Symmes Valley on Friday night.

    April 19, 2014

  • 0418ashlandBB0268.jpg One-run fun: Ashland on smiling side of close game vs. East

    After opening the season with a 2-1 victory, Ashland has had a hard time cracking the close game code.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0418_Ash_vs_JC_0003.JPG Hensley rises, fires as Kittens win big

    Johnson Central softball coach Jason Hurt’s already high opinion of Ashland junior Megan Hensley rose to another level Thursday night.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • 041714_29a.jpg Diller, Mackie spark Raceland

    It is time for the 16th Region to take notice of the Raceland softball team.

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos