Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

April 18, 2013

Recognizing a resilient bunch

Third annual statewide team includes several from area

Aaron Snyder
The Independent

ASHLAND — Several student-athletes from the northeastern Kentucky area have been selected to Tom Leach’s All-Resilient Team for 2013.

The third annual celebration recognizes a group of high school student-athletes who have overcome adversity on their path to success.

Leach, the play-by-play broadcaster for both Kentucky basketball and football, has selected 22 members to this year’s team. They will be recognized at a banquet in Louisville on April 25.

Among those chosen are Russell’s Lance Evans, Fairview’s Joel Wardle, Lewis County’s Savannah Anderson, Bath County’s Haley Clark, Menifee County’s Drew Swartz and Paintsville’s Sydney Brooke Chirico.

Evans suffered a broken leg at the end of his junior football season at Boyd County. After transferring to Russell in the spring, he continued on his path to full recover to become the starting quarterback for the Red Devils. He was an All-Area basketball player after having very little previous varsity experience. He is headed to Eastern Kentucky University to play football in the fall.

At 4-foot-2 and 155 pounds, Wardle was born with a dwarfism condition called achondroplasia. He was very much a part of Fairview’s run to the state championship game, in which it lost to Mayfield. Wardle played in the state title game, but his most memorable highlight came a few weeks before that, when he scored his only career touchdown in a win over Powell County. Wardle is also on the Eagles’ baseball team.

Anderson had to play through tough circumstances as her father passed away during this past season. Determined to play because that’s what he would’ve wanted, the 6-1 sophomore center recorded a double-double on the same day that her dad died. Anderson helped guide Lewis County to a second consecutive 16th Region tournament semifinal appearance.

Battling anorexia and depression, Clark missed all of the cross country and track seasons as a Bath County junior. According to tomleachky.com, the 5-7 Clark spent almost two months in a hospital and her weight dropped to 68 pounds. After being cleared to run again, Clark rejoined the track team and established personal bests in the 800 meters and 5,000 meters, and she is part of a school-record-setting 4x800 relay team.

Swartz experienced a dislocated shoulder, a broken kneecap and a strained back muscle as the only senior on Menifee County’s team. The coach’s son underwent three hours of physical therapy for a misaligned hip just hours before leading his team to a near-upset of Rowan County in the 61st District tournament. The team’s leading scorer was an All-Area selection, as voted by coaches.

Chirico was born with amniotic band syndrome, which left her without a left foot and with underdeveloped hands. Despite several surgeries and having to wear a prostethis below her left knee, Chirico has been a Paintsville cheerleader since her freshman year. She played soccer, softball and track at the middle school and elementary school levels.

The entire team can be seen at www.tomleachky.com.

Raceland’s Adam Elkins was All-Resilient in 2012.

AARON SNYDER can be reached at asnyder@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2664.