(Cover photo: WISH 2016 Leadership Award recipient Ron Kordes, second from left, with his “Outstanding Volleyball Team of the Year”, the Assumption Rockets. Credit: Samantha Stallings)
The 2nd annual Women In Sports Honors (WISH) ended with a bang on Sept. 20 at the Crowne Plaza as 2016 Olympian and University of Louisville senior Kelsi Worrell thanked much of her Louisville community for their support in her reaching the epitome of athletic success.
Worrell, who alongside Team USA won a gold medal in the 400m medley relay at this year’s Olympics in Rio, was awarded the WISH “Athlete of the Year”. Most fitting, it is the second year in a row that she has received this award. She captured the 2016 NCAA Champion title in the 100 yard and 200 yard butterflies, and broke her own American record earlier this year in the 100 fly.
But long before Worrell took the stage, WAVE 3 News’ Connie Leonard kicked off the night as emcee.
“I get so energized by being here because it is a room full of people that support women in sports,” recollected Leonard at the end of the night. “You can feel the energy. It was just amazing. Another amazing year, and it’s only gonna get bigger and better.”
Renowned sports journalist and executive editor of the Louisville Women’s Sports Network (producer of WISH) Billy Reed introduced the featured speaker: Susan Bradley-Cox. The USA Hall of Fame triathlete shared with the audience the evolution of access to sports for girls. She began her athletic journey over 50 years ago as a cheerleader, simply because that was the only sport girls could get involved in. Since that time, Bradley-Cox’s interest and participation in sport has increased, similar to many other women since the introduction of Title IX. Bradley-Cox went on to become a 12-time triathlete champion.
“It was an incredible event,” said Bradley-Cox on the evening. “I’m just so happy to see so many women being honored. Let’s continue it.”
Assumption head volleyball coach Ron Kordes, who has won 19 state titles with his Rockets team, was awarded the “Leadership Award” for his vision and efforts that have given female athletes the opportunity to excel at the highest competitive levels.
Joyce Seymour, current director and who has been involved with the Louisville Invitational Tournament (LIT) for over 40 years, was awarded the “Legacy Award”. The award is given to a former athlete, coach, or administrator whose commitment and contributions have created a lasting imprint in sport for female athletes. Like Bradley-Cox, Seymour discussed the changes in acceptance of girls in sports through the years. She shared her experiences of fighting to get equality for girls playing basketball.
“Awesome,” said Seymour on WISH, almost left without words. “Is one word enough? The Legacy Award is something that is so overwhelming because not only do you think of the past, but you think of where we are now and where we’re going. And that’s what’s so beautiful about it. And this, WISH, what a wonderful, wonderful thing that has been accomplished here, and now is going forward.”
After Seymour’s speech, Spalding soccer player Alyssa Logan was presented with the “Courage Award”. Despite dealing with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colities for the past five years, Logan has been described by her coach, teammates, and athletic administrators as someone who never complains. The four-year starter’s speech, filled with emotion, indicated that she has never given in to the often-times crippling effects of the disease. She will finish out her senior soccer season this Fall before enduring two final surgeries.
In addition to these four individual award winners, the following local teams were award “Outstanding Team of the Year” for their respective sport, based on ther 2015-2016 performance and overall strength of program:
Archery – Bullitt East; Basketball – Butler Traditional High; Bowling – Louisville Male High; Competitive Cheer – Bullitt East; Cross Country – Louisville Male High; Dance – Eastern High; Field Hockey – Sacred Heart Academy; Golf – Sacred Heart Academy; Lacrosse – Kentucky Country Day; Soccer – Sacred Heart Academy; Softball – Holy Cross High; Swimming and Diving – Sacred Heart Academy; Tennis – duPont Manual High; Track and Field – Louisville Male High; Volleyball – Assumption High
The 2016 WISH comes on the one-year anniversary since the Louisville Office of the Mayor officially declared Sept. 23 as “Louisville Women in Sports Celebration Day“.
“I’m so proud of the Louisville Women’s Sports Network,” said Reed after the event. “It was a total home run. It’s just so nice to see so many gifted and deserving young women so happy and getting the recognition that they have really earned. This is something that hopefully will just get bigger and bigger, and I hope, really, it spreads around the country.”
To see photos from the evening, click here.