Ironton adds five to athletic Hall of Fame

Published 11:03 pm Saturday, January 17, 2015

Jim Walker


Former outstanding high school players who became successful coaches, an accomplished gymnast, and a high school and college athlete who made contributions as a support staff comprise the third Ironton High School Athletic Hall of Fame class.

Carl White, Phil Rice and Bill Washburn — all former Ironton standouts who became successful coaches for the Fighting Tigers — have been selected along with former player and orthopedic physician John Leach and gymnast Bobbi Ann (Hunt) Triplett.

The group will be honored at a dinner on Saturday, Jan. 31, in the high school cafeteria following a day of basketball in the Sports Center.

White was a four-sport star in football, basketball, baseball and track at Ironton. He served as team captain in both football and basketball his senior year.

The 1949 Ironton High School graduate was an All-Ohio selection who played in the North/South All-Star Game and was named the Robert E. Christian winner as the best senior athlete.

White played football and baseball at Eastern Kentucky University. He was a three-year starter as a defensive back and was the backup quarterback.

Following his senior year, he was contacted by the Green Bay Packers about committing to the NFL draft. However, White was enrolled in the ROTC program and entered the U.S. Army upon graduation.

While in the service, White played football and baseball for the First Infantry in Germany and was player-coach for the baseball team. The baseball team advanced to the G.F. World Series and lost the series in seven games.

After the service, White served as an assistant football coach from 1955-56 at Coal Grove. He was an assistant football coach at Ironton from 1957-60 and was the head coach the next three seasons.

White was the head baseball coach in 1961 when Ironton resurrected its baseball program and won the sectional title. Ironton lost 2-1 in the district tournament to Gallipolis and future Major League Baseball pitching standout Dave Roberts.

Triplett was a championship gymnast not only in high school but also in college where she earned All-American honors twice.

Triplett won the Ohio high school state gymnastics championship in 1976 as the all-around champion in bars, beam, vault and floor exercise.

The competition was for all divisions of schools in Ohio. She won three gold medals and one silver.

She attend the University of Louisville on a full scholarship from 1977-80 competing against teams from Ohio State, Kentucky, Florida State, UCLA, Penn State, Georgia, Arizona State, Cal State Fullerton, Clarion, Ball State, Indiana State, Southern Illinois, Western Kentucky and Eastern Kentucky.

As a freshman, Bobbi Ann was 16th in the nation individually and Louisville was 10th as a team. She was first in the All-Around Kentucky Women’s Intercollegiate Championship and was first in the All-Around regional championships that including Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

As a sophomore, She won the same championships, finished 14th in the nation and earn All-American honors. She helped Louisville place sixth in the nation as a team.

In her junior season, Bobbi Ann was second in the All-Around State Championships but was first in the All-Around Regional Championships. Louisville was sixth again nationally but she climbed to 12th individually and was selected an All-American for the second time.

Dr. Leach was a 1957 graduate of Ironton High School who played football and basketball for the Fighting Tigers.

An All-Ohio quarterback, Leach earned a scholarship to the University of Cincinnati where he lettered his senior year.

After graduation, Leach entered the service and later attended medical school and became an orthopedic surgeon.

Leach served for 34 years as the Ironton team physician despite living in Columbus. He was also team physician for Ohio University and Otterbein College and often spent his weekends driving to Ironton on Friday, Athens on Saturday afternoon and then Westerville on Saturday night.

Leach was named to the Ohio High School Athletic Association Physicians Hall of Fame and was the recipient of the Columbus area’s Dr. Gregory Brooks Award presented during ceremonies at the Buckeye Hall of Fame and was the 2004 recipient of the prestigious Dr. Thomas A. Brady Community Service given annual to orthopedic doctors who are instrumental in improving the care of high school athletes.

The award was presented in Quebec, Canada. He was nominated by Columbus physician Randy Wroble.

Leach was the 1985 Ironton Sports Day honoree.

Rice is remembered for his long-time coaching career as one of the most successful basketball coaches in Ironton history. During his 20 years as head coach, Rice guided Ironton the boys’ first-ever state tournament appearance in 1994.

But Rice was also an outstanding basketball player for Ironton who also played two years of varsity baseball and helped the Fighting Tigers win the SEOAL title in 1968.

Rice averaged 23.7 points per game his senior year, helped Ironton to the Class AA district tournament — the Fighting Tigers first appearance since 1959 — and was named All-Ohio by the Associated Press and United Press International.

Rice scored 468 points his senior year (1967-68), the second most points in a single season without the 3-point line. Ralph Snead scored 527 points during the 1957-58 season. Rice was the Ironton team captain, team MVP and first team All-SEOAL.

After playing at Marietta College, Rice was an assistant coach at Rock Hill under Carl Large in 1972-73. He also coached cross country and girls’ softball.

He came to Ironton the next year as the junior varsity coach and his 1976 jayvee team was 16-0. He took over as head coach in 1978 and guided Ironton to its only SEOAL championship in 1979 when he was the Coach of the Year.

The 27-year coaching veteran was selected to coach the South team in the annual North/South All-Star Game. His teams won six sectionals, four district titles, one regional and had a Final Four appearance.

Washburn is yet another outstanding Ironton athlete who enjoyed great coaching success. However, Washburn’s coaching career was in a sport he did not play competitively in high school.

A 1970 graduate of Ironton and 1975 graduate of Ohio University, Washburn played football, basketball, baseball, track and cross country in high school. He did golf during the summer when not participating in other sports.

Washburn — a Tiger Clan winner — was All-SEOAL in baseball and basketball and was a three-year starter in football. In baseball, he started all four years and played four different positions.

He took over coaching the Ironton golf team in 1989 when his oldest son Brian was a senior and head coach John Gagai was faced with scheduling conflicts due to teaching at another school.

Washburn remained the head golf coach until 2002. His teams made seven state tournament trips and won three straight Class AA state championships and had one state runner-up.

Washburn guided his teams to eight district titles and seven regional championships. He coached 17 golfers who signed to play college golf including Tony Brown who became the first All-American athlete for Shawnee State University.