By Mark Carpenter –
It was Enshrinement Night on Friday, Jan. 19 at West Union High School as the Dragons inducted their seven newest members to the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame. The new inductees are a diverse group, but all have one thing in common, stories of success during and after their time at West Union High School. The seven inductees who were honored Friday night included: Judy Hazelbaker, John T. Lafferty, Dr. William T. Lafferty, Blaine Roush, Jerry Shipley, Robert W. Shivener, and Bob Tucker.
Judy Hazelbaker has been a familiar face around West Union High School for many years. She began teaching P.E. and Health at WUHS in 1973 and for the past 35 years has been nothing less than a jack-of-all-trades. In addition to her teaching duties, Hazelbaker earned her spot in the Hall of Fame by coaching basketball, cheerleading, softball, track, and volleyball.
In 1976, Hazelbaker led the Lady Dragons basketball squad to a sectional runner-up berth, the first in school history, but her biggest legacy will be her work on the volleyball court. She led the Lady Dragons’ volleyball teams for 22 seasons, a run that included three Southern Hills League titles and a trio of sectional championships, also being named SHL Co-Coach of the year in 1997. She also served as Co-Athletic Director at WUHS for 10 years, finally retiring in 2008, but she can still be seen often at WUHS working as a volleyball official.
The Lafferty family certainly holds its place in the West Union community and on Friday night, two members of the distinguished family saw their plaques hung on the wall as new members of the WUHS Hall of Fame.
John T. Lafferty was a 1959 graduate of WUHS, where he excelled on the basketball court and the baseball diamond, remembered as one of the best third baseman in school history, and being a member of county tournament winners in his junior and senior seasons. On the hardwood, John played both guard and center, scored 412 points his senior year, and 35 in one game against Georgetown.
After spending two years at Ohio State University, Lafferty moved to the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science, then came back to West Union to work with his father at the Lafferty Funeral Home, becoming the fifth generation of the Lafferty family to serve the community in the funeral business. He and his wife Elaine have two sons, John R. and Jayson and a daughter Liz.
Dr. William T. Lafferty graduated from WUHS in 1956, where he was considered an outstanding basketball player, four times racking up more than 30 points in game, with a high of 53 in a contest with Jefferson High School, which was the county record at the time. He may always be remembered for one play that may have brought on a change in basketball rules.
In the days offensive player occupied the inside rebounding spot on a free throw attempt, Lafferty was instructed by his coach to purposely miss the second of two free throws, which he did, the rebound bouncing right into the hands of teammate Dale Hazelbaker, who laid it in for an easy score. As fans know, the defensive player now occupies that inside spot, making it much more difficult for a play such as Lafferty and Hazelbaker pulled off.
William T. Lafferty, who is the brother of inductee John T., graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Ohio State University in 1960, went to the OSU School of Medicine, then returned to Adams County where he and his wife, Dr. Beverly Lafferty, opened the Lafferty Clinic in 1964 and also served on the staff of the Adams County Hospital.
Dr. Lafferty passed away in 1991 and on Friday night, his plaque was accepted by his sister-in-law, Elaine Lafferty.
Blaine Roush is a 1989 graduate of WUHS, where he was a multi-sport athlete, excelling in golf, basketball, and baseball. He was selected to the All-SHL Golf Team three times as the Dragons won the league title in all four years of his high school career, and made the regional tourney three times.
On the diamond, Blaine was a member of the SHL champion Dragons in 1988 and 1989. In the ’89 season, he produced a stat line that included 45 hits, 41 walks, 46 runs scored, 30 runs batted in, 28 stolen bases, and just for good measure, eight wins as a pitcher.
On the hardwood, Roush scored 908 points in his varsity career as the Dragons won three SHL titles, two sectionals, and a district. He was voted All-SHL three times and was First Team All-Southeast District and Honorable Mention All-State after his junior year. As a senior, Roush was the Southeast District Co-Player of the Year and Third Team All-State.
Blaine continued his hoops career at Capital University, where he turned in a 1,183 point career, winning the team MVP award twice while being named All-Conference and All-Great Lakes Region. After graduation, Roush returned to WUHS as a teacher and coach, before leaving to work for Roush Racing. He currently resides in Miami Beach, Fla., owning and operating his own company, leasing airplane engines.
Jerry Shipley was a 1948 graduate of WUHS, after leaving in the eighth grade and then returning for his junior and senior years, where he scored a combined 1,000 points at two schools. Many old-time Dragon fans may remember Shipley tipping the ball through the basket on a jump ball, but he also scored 438 points in his senior campaign for a West Union team that won 26 consecutive games and finished the season with just one loss.
After leaving WUHS, Shipley moved on to play at the University of Cincinnati with a full tuition scholarship, competing until an injury in his junior year derailed his career. He received an Engineering degree from UC and after being part of the university’s ROTC program was called up to active duty in the United States Air Force. After being honorably discharged, he worked for General Electric for 35 years.
Jerry is married to his high school sweetheart, Vera Vanlandingham and they have six children, 20 grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.
Graduating from WUHS in 1953, Robert W. Shivener was a star basketball player who earned the moniker “Wildman” from Dragon opponents. Led by Shivener’s “jump shot”, the Dragons captured Adams County titles in 1951 and 1952, with Shivener scoring 362 points as a junior and 624 his senior year, still a West Union record. He also scored an impressive 189 points in the Adams County Tournament, four times eclipsing the 30-point mark in a single game, with a high of 35 against Manchester. Fans still recall a home game with eventual state champion Lockland Wayne where the Dragons lost by just seven points and the legend has it that the visitors had their hands full on defense, having to triple team the “Wildman”.
With offers to play at Cincinnati and Western Kentucky, Shivener chose instead to go to work for NCR and later General Motors in Dayton. He and his wife Helen had four children- Julia, Linda, and Robert Jr. and Ted, the two sons who accepted the plaque on Friday night for their late father, who passed away in 2009.
Finally, a member of the West Union coaching tree is a new member of the Hall of Fame with the induction of Coach Bob Tucker, who led the Dragons’ basketball squads for six seasons, accumulating over 100 wins and Adams County titles in 1951 and 1952. In the 1951-52 campaign, Tucker’s Dragons went 22-3, putting together a 19-game winning streak, before losing to Lockland Wayne by a single point. Called “an indispensible person to the team”, Tucker became a well-respected member of the West Union community and was known for doing whatever he could to keep students in school, though he was demanding on the court and always held his players accountable for their actions.
After leaving WUHS, Tucker moved on to teach and coach at New Richmond, helping to start the Lion football program and serving as the district’s Superintendent before retiring in 1978. He and his wife Jean have two children, Jack Tucker and Tammy Deweese, who were on hand Friday to accept the plaque for their father.
The People’s Defender extends its heartiest congratulations to all of this year’s inductees to the West Union High School Hall of Fame.