On Friday, February 5, the RHS Alumni Athletic Association held its Eleventh Annual Induction Hall of Fame festivities between the Girls and Boys games as the Russellville Panthers met the Logan County Cougars for the “Clash of the Cats” game. Four new members joined the distinctive ranks of “all-time Panther Greats!” Each honoree represents the epitome of true leadership as an athlete, alumni, and friend to everyone associated with the Russellville Independent School system.
In addition, before the boys’ game began, Coach Phil Todd presented RHS junior, Pedro Bradshaw, with his 1000 point basketball, designed and hand-painted by “Mr. Panther” himself, Don Firchow.
The bios for the Hall of Fame inductees are as follows:
Rodney Gordon, Class of 1985, was an outstanding football player named First Team All-State Courier Journal and Associated Press in 1984. He was All-WKC in 83, 84, and Captain in 84. He had 2,319 career yards rushing, 37 touchdowns, threw 6 touchdown passes, and scored 222 career points. Rodney also had 300 tackles, 7 fumble recoveries, 6 interceptions, and 11 sacks on defense. Mr. Gordon was named one of the Top 10 Division #1 college prospects in the state of KY in 1984. This Panther Great lead his team to a State Championship in 1982, and a Regional Championship in 1983 & 1984. He was a key player in the Panthers school record 24 game winning streak. Rodney also was a basketball player and scored a career high 26 points in the Panther first-ever win over Logan County in 1985. Rodney Gordon signed with Morehead State University after graduation. Mr. Gordon was presented his plaque by his brother and member of the RHS Panther Football State Championship Team of 1990, Patrick Maskin.
Nathan Thompson, Class of 2001, was a member of the RHS Soccer Team from 1997-20. His freshman year, he scored 18 goals, his sophomore year he scored 22; his junior year he scored 28 goals; and in his senior season, he had his career-high 30 goals, for a total of 98 career goals ranking him 1st and 2nd all-time. In 1999, Nathan scored 5 goals in one match, and during his senior season he scored goals in 9 consecutive games. Nathan finished his high school career with 46 and in a season with 14, labeling this the most soccer wins of the school’s history. He was soccer MVP and All-District in 2000. Nathan also played basketball during the time of the most boys basketball wins of the season with 28. In 2001, he was All-district and won the Academic Award. Nathan is the only player in the school’s history to be a part of all three KHSAA Sweet 16 State boys’ basketball tournament appearances in 1998, 2000, and 2001. Nathan also played RHS Panther Baseball for 4 years, and in 2001, he received Best Pitcher and the Golden Glove Award. Not only was Mr. Thompson a Panther Athlete, but he was RHS Head Soccer Coach for 3 years and Assistant Coach 1 year. He was RHS Boys Basketball Assistant Coach for 7 years, RHS Head Golf Coach 3 years, and RHS Athletic Director for 2 years. Nathan has been Coach and General Manager for the Bowling Green Hornets Minor League Basketball Team who were the 2015 Central Basketball Association Champions. He coached the CBA Global Team in Canada in 2014, and Brazil in 2015. Nathan, his wife, Laura, and their two children reside in Olmstead. RHS football and baseball star from the Class of 1971, and Nathan’s uncle, Mr. Tony Stokes, presented Mr. Thompson with his plaque.
Continuing in the family, Nathan’s father, Tom Thompson, was also inducted. Tom is a retired Coach and Educator in the Russellville School System. He coached the RHS Softball team for 10 years, taking over the program shortly after the transition to fast pitch. During his tenure at RHS, the team went to the Regional Tournament 3 times while on their way to 3 District Runner-up finishes. Coach Thompson remains the Coach with the most wins for fast-pitch softball in the school’s history. Mr. Thompson also coached the RHS Soccer Team for 16 years. Coach Thompson took over the program in the 2nd year of existence. During his time at RHS, the team reached the Regional Tournament 3 times while on the way to 3 District runner-up finishes. This District included Muhlenberg, Warren Central, Warren East, and Bowling Green. Coach Thompson remains the Soccer Coach with the most wins in the school’s history. Coach Thompson may be better known for his coaching the Russellville Special Olympic Team for 32 years where they participated in Regional and State competitions. They participated in events such as track and field, gymnastics, and bowling. The Special Olympic Motto is “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt”. Tom Thompson is an inspiration to everyone he comes into contact with. He is currently the Minister of the First Presbyterian Church in Russellville. Mr. Thompson’s two daughters, Mrs. Sarah Ibarro and Miss Mollie Thompson, presented him with his plaque.
The fourth and final inductee was Nikki Koller, Class of 2008, a 4-time State qualifier in Golf and 2-time KHSAA Girls’ Gold State Champion in 2006 & 2007. Nikki was the Class “A” Girls State Champion in 2007, with a four under par score of 68. She led the RHS team to the school’s first and only Regional Runners-up title in 2005, 2007, and on to the Regional Championship in 2006. Miss Koller was Medalist in the first Russellville Girls’ Invitational, named to the All-Region Team three times, and named All-State twice. She received 7 letters in Golf during her 6th-12th grades. Nikki was also a RHS swimmer, swimming for the first-ever region-winning girls’ swim team in 2001, as a 6th grader. She was a lead-qualifier in the 2006, 4X50 freestyle relay state-qualifying team. She received five letters in swimming during her 6th -10th grades. Miss Koller was a member of the RHS Marching Panther Band. She was named All-district Band, received the 110% Award as a freshman, and marched in two semi-state band Championships. She was the 2008 deGraffenried Award recipient; Nike National All-Star Junior Golfer in 2006; placed 4th at the Nike Championship in Portland, OR (her first national championship event); winner of the 2006 Nike Camp Lejeune Championship; USGA Junior Girls’ Golf Championship Qualifier Medalist; 2007 Junior World Gold Championship (top 20 finish at Torrey Pines Golf course); Rolex Junior Girls’ Champion; and 2008 Kentucky State Girls’ Amateur Champion. Nikki played in the 2008 USGA Women’s Amateur Golf Championship and has many other golf accomplishments. Miss Koller graduated from the University of Arizona as a 4-year letterman while playing in two PAC 10 Championships and two PAC 12 Championships. She played in four NCAA Division 1 Women’s Regional Championships and 3 NCAA D-1 National Championships. In 2010, she led the University of Arizona team to a D-1 NCAA Regional championship win. She was on the 2010 PAC 10 Championship team; a 3-time PAC 10/12 All-Academic team and a 2-time Academic All American. Nikki was Runner Up in the 2011 Kentucky Women’s Open Golf Championship. She is currently employed as Project Manager for Warren County Public Works. Former Russellville Superintendent, Roger Cook, presented Miss Koller with her plaque.