Athletes of the Year
Every year at Basehor-Linwood High School, the varsity coaches get together and discuss which students they will vote for as the school's athletes of the year. This year, however, there wasn't much discussion.
Travis Fouts and Jackie Horn were selected as the male and female athletes of the year, respectively, and BLHS athletic director Joe Keeler said they were both easy choices.
"They were both unanimous picks," Keeler said. "And they're both very deserving of this honor. In the meeting that we have every year to vote on this, somebody brought up their names and that pretty much ended the discussion."
Keeler doesn't actually vote for an athlete; rather he is the coordinator of the committee. The committee is comprised of BLHS's varsity coaches, and they make their selections based on three main criteria the athlete must play in at least two sports, the athlete must display good athletic ability and leadership, and the athletes must be of good character.
According to Keeler, Fouts and Horn fit easily into all three categories, as he labeled them the prototypical BLHS athletes.
"Jackie is not only a talented athlete, but a great leader and a great person," Keeler said. "Travis is a fierce competitor, a great leader and a hard worker."
While their former athletic director was quick to hand out praise, both Fouts and Horn remained humble in talking about the award.
Fouts, who starred in three sports baseball, basketball and football at BLHS, said he could not put into words what being named athlete of the year meant to him.
"It's quite an honor because there are so many good athletes in our class," the class of 2000 graduate said. "It's pretty cool, I don't know how to explain it."
What Fouts did explain, however, was how he thought he might have earned the award. He said every time he stepped onto the field or the court, he was trying to represent his school in the best possible way. He prided himself on being a hard worker and said it was easy to do because he was working alongside his lifelong friends and some outstanding coaches.
"Just playing with all my friends was the best part for me," Fouts said. "I've played with most of those guys for as long as I can remember. I made the most of it when I was there, and I didn't regret a day of practice or a single game."
Keeler said that was evident by the way Fouts took advantage of every big moment.
"Travis always had the ability to rise to the occasion," Keeler said. "One fond memory was a leaping touchdown catch in the back of the endzone before halftime of the Piper game, which was for the district championship. It was a turning point in the game."
Of the play, Fouts said he remembered the touchdown being a big play for the team, but also because it came against a defensive player from Piper who he battled during all four years at BLHS.
Fouts has now taken his athletic talents to St. Mary's College in Leavenworth, and after red shirting this year, he will play basketball and possibly football next year.
Horn, like Fouts, excelled in many sports while she was at BLHS. She played two years of volleyball and four years of both basketball and softball. Horn said her favorite of the three was easily softball, but Keeler said she was a darn good basketball player as well.
Despite her numerous accolades including many all-league honors Horn said she did not expect to win the award.
"It was a nice surprise," she said. "I didn't expect it at all. But I feel very honored that when I'm older I'll be able to bring my kids back and show them my name on that plaque."
Because of her abundant involvement in so many sports, Keeler said Horn deserved the honor.
"She's been an intrigal part of the athletic program here for the past four years and she has been a very positive person the entire time," Keeler said. "She's the consumate team player."
Keeler also said Horn's leadership qualities are what he will remember most about her contributions at BLHS. For Horn, that's exactly the way she wanted it.
She said she never did anything in any sport for individual purposes. Instead, she tried to lead by example and in the process she ended up being the one the team counted on in several occasions.
Horn said the thing she'll remember most about her time at BLHS is that her softball team went to state three straight years and that they had so much fun, met so many new people and tried to improve in every game no matter what the situation. Horn said, for her, things like that made BLHS the best place possible.
"There is no other place I could've wanted to go to school," Horn said.
Horn is now enrolled at Washburn University on a softball scholarship and she will be majoring in business.
Both Fouts and Horn said they wished their high school days could've lasted forever. They enjoyed playing with their friends, playing for their school and playing as hard as they possibly could. Now, however, like so many classes and athletes before them, they have moved on to new challenges and new schools.
And while Keeler said they both will be missed dearly, he also said their legacy will likely last because of what they did when they were at BLHS.
"Leaders like Jackie and Travis are hard to replace," Keeler said. "However, the examples that both of them have set here hopefully have been passed on and others will strive to become the same type of ath