For Kentucky Christian University, it’s an inception.
The school announced on Tuesday that a fastpitch softball program will be launched in the fall of 2014. It’s the first sport added to KCU’s repertoire since football in 2008.
For Ashland Blazer High School, it’s a reunion.
Current Ashland coach Dave Miller will take the reins of the Knights, and he’s bringing with him a star-studded cast of Kittens.
Katelyn Miller, Kelsee Hammonds and McKenzie Vanover all signed letters of intent on campus on Tuesday afternoon to be part of Miller’s grand-opening team, which will take the field in the spring of 2015.
Miller will wrap up his final season with the Kittens this coming spring.
Bruce Dixon, KCU’s director of athletics, and Miller have engaged in many a conversation about this moment for the past few years.
“The timing was never quite right until now,” said Dixon inside KCU’s Nash Chapel. “We as a university have been looking at, where are places you want to try and grow? We didn’t have spring athletic programs and we also wanted to appeal to the female demographic. Softball presents a great opportunity.”
KCU will compete in the National Christian College Athletic Association. While there are certain stipulations on athletic scholarships, they will be awarded.
The Knights will play their home games at Championship Fastpitch Sports Complex, a five-field facility owned by Miller. The complex is located just behind the Boyd County Fairgrounds.
“What an awesome perk,” Dixon said of the facility. “The man (Miller) fit regardless of what he had with him, though. When we look for coaches, we’re looking for more than just a coach. Dave is a Christian, an elder in his church, and it’s obvious he has coaching expertise.”
Miller has guided Ashland to five consecutive 16th Region championships. He has been named All Area Coach of the Year twice and has compiled a 203-76 record since 2006.
While Miller is eager to take on this “huge challenge,” he said leaving Ashland is tough.
“It’s hard,” he said. “I can’t say enough about the administration all the way down to the kids. It was a tearful day when I made the announcement to them. It was my baby, I raised it and built it. It’s hard to let it go ...
“... But I’m taking a few (Kittens) with me,” he added with a smile.
Katelyn Miller, Dave’s daughter, is a 21-year-old marketing student at Morehead State University. Hammonds is also at MSU, studying elementary education. Both will enroll at KCU before the spring semester.
Katelyn was chosen the All-Area Pitcher of the Year three times. She was a first team All-State selection as a senior in 2011. Upon transferring, Miller expects to still have at least two years of eligibility.
Hammonds was Co-Player of the Year twice and first team All-State in 2012.
Vanover is currently an Ashland senior. The power-hitting right-hander was named Co-Player of the Year this past spring. Her official signing ceremony will take place on Friday at 2 p.m. at Blazer’s high school cafeteria.
Both Miller and Hammonds admitted they’re a bit rusty.
“I was hitting off the tee the other day and (Coach Miller) said, ‘You look awkward,’” Hammonds said with a laugh.
Hammonds said she thought she was burnt-out on softball after graduating, but quickly learned otherwise.
It was pretty much a no-brainer to rejoin the Millers on the softball diamond, she said.
Said Katelyn: “It’s going to take lots of work to get back (to top form). But it’s nice to get a second shot.”
Dave Miller struggled to put into words what it means to coach his daughter again, but he said the fact that she and many other talented players in this area weren’t sought after by colleges was a major factor in his decision to be KCU’s first coach.
“Eastern Kentucky kids that often get overlooked won’t be overlooked anymore,” Miller said.
Miller said it’s “humbling” to be a centerpiece of KCU’s athletic program.
“Between the facilities we have coupled with the quality education they’ll receive, we can grow this program to be great,” he said.
AARON SNYDER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. or (606) 326-2664.
Ashland's Miller will coach
For Kentucky Christian University, it’s an inception.
- Local Sports
- Laying the foundation Workers are finishing the foundation for the locker room on the home side of Putnam Stadium on Tuesday. The Ashland Tomcats open the football season on Aug. 22 against Newport Catholic.
Todd Eastham is disproving the old cliche, “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.”
MARK MAYNARD: Looking for those who inspire
Inspirtation, they say, comes from within. It is defined as an inspiring or animating action or influence.
Jones tops Gillum in playoff at Eagle Trace
Ashland senior golfer Logan Jones didn't shoot his average Monday.
He didn't mind.
His three-over par 75 and one-hole playoff win over Elliott County junior Ryan Gillum gave him the Boys Open division title in the Kentucky PGA Junior Tour stop at Morehead State University's Eagle Trace Golf Course.
Raceland tabs Clark as new girls basketball coach
Jason Clark has a reputation of being — to use his word — “passionate” on the Raceland volleyball sideline.
He plans to bring that same approach as the Lady Rams’ new basketball coach.
Pass the Mayo: East sophomore PG, Lady Raiders preparing for winter run
East Carter sophomore point guard Kristen Mayo has played basketball for as long as she can remember.
Steelers super fan Spinda to be recognized in Florida
Shawn Spinda doesn’t have to use speech to profess his passion for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
All it takes is a quick glance for a person to get the picture.
But to absorb the whole picture, you’ll need to clear your schedule.
Spinda is one of several fanatics who will be recognized at the Sports Fans Conference in Orlando, Florida, which is set for Aug. 28-Sept. 1 at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort. He is a “What a Fan” NFL Fan of the Year nominee.
Little League State Baseball: Ready to run
Morehead 11- and 12-year-old All-Star baseball manager Toby Gardner collectively likened his team to a racehorse.
- Prokicker.com camp Eleven Ashland Tomcat football players were part of the Ray Guy Prokicker.com camp at Huntington High. The high-profile camps are put on all over the country. Rick Sang, an Ashland native who befriended Guy 20 years ago, is the camp's founder.
Four-down territory: Making summer football practice pit stops
ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL?
The popular Monday night catchphrase filled my room on Tuesday morning as my new alarm sounded off at 7 a.m.
- More Local Sports Headlines