A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Our Rich History: Centennial period athletes/teams from VMC/TMC/TMU who made a difference

By Raymond G. Hebert, PhD
Special to NKyTribune

For several years, beginning on June 14, 2021 and ending on February 6, 2023, the “Our Rich History” focus was the Centennial History Series for Villa Madonna College/Thomas More College/Thomas More University. I had the pleasure and honor of writing many of the 90+ articles produced during those weeks and months.

The result, in March 2023, was a 320-page Centennial History volume called: THOMAS MORE UNIVERSITY AT 100. PURPOSE, PEOPLE, AND PATHWAYS TO STUDENT SUCCESS. The book can be purchased through the Thomas More University Bookstore in the Saints Center – Telephone 859-344-3335.

Reflecting back on the final product and responding to some of the comments, the one area that the editors and a number of the readers wished could have been covered more were the institution’s athletic successes, including specific memorable athletes and teams. In the Centennial history, a primary focus was placed on the “Men’s Basketball Program,” because of the later successes of some of the athletes (even with players at the professional level), as well as the “Women’s Basketball Program” due to its multiple national championships.

A study of the institution’s Sports Hall of Fame roster clearly shows, however, that there were many other successful players and teams worthy of being looked at and remembered. Page and time restrictions for the book made our decisions of whom to include difficult.

Hence, we are proud to present a new, occasional “Our Rich History” series beginning today that will focus on Thomas More’s most successful athletes. I call the series: Centennial Period Athletes/Teams from VMC/TMC/TMU Who Made a Difference. We will bring to you some 20-25 athletes and teams from multiple sports.

Rick Hughes during the 1995–1996 basketball season. (Courtesy of the “Thomas More College Saints Media Guide.”)

One of the criteria will be national or regional recognition. Examples include Lynn Thompson who was a National Champion Division III Women’s Golfer, and David Justice, a major league baseball player with
much of his career/success as a member of the Atlanta Braves, for whom he was even awarded Rookie of the Year in the National League.

The second major criteria will be athletes who have held records for long periods of time in the more traditional sports that have been around for decades. One example is football player Zach Autenreib, who still holds the national record in Division III for the most career interceptions (34). There have been teams with outstanding success that must be remembered as well.

An example of one such athlete was a men’s team basketball player named Rick Hughes, who came to TMC from Walnut Hills High School with academic credentials as highly regarded as his athletic prowess. He was 6’9″ and had an outstanding career, averaging 25 points per game from 1992 until 1996.

Sydney Moss wins 2016 National Player of the Year. (TMU Archives)

While there will be better known athletes featured in our series, in my estimation, there was no better overall athlete than Rick Hughes. He will therefore be the featured player in our opening article.

Others who will follow will be better-known stars like David Justice, Larry Staverman, Sydney Moss, and Madison Temple, followed by Lynn Thompson (Women’s Golf) and Jenny Boerger Case (Women’s Volleyball).

Overall, we look forward to bringing these articles to you and hope that others (perhaps teammates) might be open to either writing articles or sharing stories about some of Thomas More’s successful athletes whom they knew or even played with.

Please feel free to contact me at hebertr@thomasmore.edu.

Dr. Raymond G. Hebert. (TMU Archives)

I look forward to hearing from some of you about this project and the VMC/TMC/TMU athletes and teams it will feature.

Dr. Raymond G. Hebert is Professor of History and Executive Director of the William T. Robinson III Institute for Religious Liberty at Thomas More University. He is the leading author of Thomas More University at 100: Purpose, People, and Pathways to Student Success (2023). The book can be purchased by contacting the Thomas More University Bookstore at 859-344-3335. Dr. Hebert can be contacted at hebertr@thomasmore.edu.

We want to learn more about the history of your business, church, school, or organization in our region (Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky, and along the Ohio River). If you would like to share your rich history with others, please contact the editor of “Our Rich History,” Paul A. Tenkotte, at tenkottep@nku.edu. Paul A. Tenkotte, PhD is Professor of History at Northern Kentucky University (NKU) and the author of many books and articles.

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