The 1981 Kentucky State University Women's Basketball National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics National Champions returned to Frankfort to be honored this week. Six freshmen members of the team enjoyed their time in town and left with life-long memories. They appreciated everything that was given and surprised by the celebrity status bestowed upon them. From acclimations, proclamations, and resolutions to gifts to photos and autographs, everyone they encountered, especially the NAIA athletes, made them feel special. People commented on their modesty despite being the first to win a basketball national championship sponsored by a non-women only governing body, and the first from Commonwealth to win a national title in the sport.
Though I was credited with organizing the program, I can not take credit for its success. Many others contributed to making this a worthwhile activity for Angelia Barnett, Rhonda Beauford, Darlene Brown, Felicia (Brown) Jordan, Paula (James) Jennels, and Jackie Stringer-Sims. I started working with Amanda Scheier, formerly of the Frankfort Convention last year. Robin Antenucci, the FCC Executive Director, ensured, along with NAIA Mid-South Conference Commissioner Steve Baker, that the work continued. William Graham and Wendell Thomas of the KSU K-Club commissioned a large-sized picture to be displayed in the Exum Center gym. Other contributors who deserve thanks are, in no particular order, Former KSU Sports Information Director Ken Miller, KSU Athletics, KSU K-Club, KSU National Alumni Association, KSU National Alumni Association Kentucky Region, Governor Steve Beshear, State Senators Julian Carroll and Gerald Neal, State Representative Derrick Graham, Mayor Bill May, The State-Journal, WKYT, Frankfort Parks and Recreation, and the NAIA.
This historic team brought pride to Frankfort by the little school on the hill. Frankfort returned the love and I appreciate your help. The Thorobreds and Thorobrettes have contributed to history. However, that history would be lost without the contributions of those in the community who helped ensure its relived.
Lacy L. Rice Jr. is the Assistant Commissioner of the Mid-South Conference and a 1994 KSU alumnus.