Former Ashland High School basketball player and Boyd County basketball coach Eugene “Jeep” Clark has been named the 2006 Ashland Elks Sports Days honoree.

The Ashland Elks has recognized a local sports figure each year since 1975. Clark, who was also Boyd County’s athletic director from 1982-89, said the award was unexpected.

“It’s wonderful to be honored and to receive this award,” said Clark, who will be recognized during the Sports Days festivities July 14-15. “It’s been going on a long time and I was real surprised to get it. It’s a great honor.”

A three-year starter at Ashland High in the late 1940s under coach Charles McClurg, Clark scored 894 points with the Tomcats and earned all-district, all-region and all-state honors his senior season when Ashland finished 22-9.

That season, Ashland gave top-ranked Clark County a scare in a 36-33 loss in the finals of the 16th Region Tournament.

“I think the 3-point shot has changed everything,” Clark said. “We didn’t have it and we all played zone defense because we liked to fast break and run. The difference today is how many points you can score.”

Clark earned a scholarship to Southern Miss where he helped his team to a 76-31 record during his career. He later came back to coach his alma mater from 1971-76.

“College coaching is very tough and very hard and it’s a tough situation to go back to where you played,” Clark said. “At the time the school was going from NAIA to an NCAA division and that was tough, but I enjoyed it.”

Clark began his coaching career in 1953 at McComb High School in McComb, Miss. He returned to Kentucky to coach at Montgomery County (1954-59) and Paris (1959-64). He then returned to Southern Miss as an assistant before taking the top post in 1971.

After compiling a record of 39-85 during the transitional years at Southern Miss, Clark returned to his roots and spent 13 years in Boyd County athletics. He was the basketball coach from 1976-82 and he retired after the next seven years as athletic director.

Clark led the Lions to the 16th Region title and the quarterfinals of the Sweet Sixteen in 1981. Boyd County repeated as 16th Region champion in 1982, Clark’s final season. He compiled a record of 118-51 in his six seasons.

“The highlight of my whole coaching career was back there because I was back in my hometown and having success in the program,” he said. “It was a very enjoyable 13 years I stayed there.”

Clark was the coach of the East team in the Kentucky East-West All-Star game in 1982. He was The Independent’s Coach of the Year in 1981 and was named Best Bench Coach by the Northeast Kentucky Officials Association from 1980-82.

Clark also spent time as the 16th Region representative for the Kentucky High School Conference Association, the Secretary-Treasurer of the Tri-State Conference and as a member of the State Association of Athletic Directors.

Clark now splits his time between homes in Sun City Center, Fla., and Hattiesburg, Miss. He said he doesn’t get the opportunity to come back to Ashland often, but he is looking forward to returning for the Sports Days.

“Ashland has been good to me. I have nothing but good things to say about Ashland,” he said. “I’m tickled to be able to come back and join everyone again.”

A reception is scheduled from 6-9 p.m. on Friday, July 14 and the banquet is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Saturday, July 15.

The banquet will include a featured speaker who will be announced at a later date.

Tickets are $25 for the reception and the banquet and can be purchased at Ashland Sports Goods and the Ashland Elks. For more information call 324-5720.

RICK GREENE can be reached at or (606) 326-2664.

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