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The tragic passing of Mike Casey last week offers a unique opportunity for Shelby County to create a memorial to his legacy as an athlete, an icon and simply a good person so many felt blessed to know.
In fact, there are two memorials for which we would recommend immediate action.
First, we encourage the Simpsonville City Commission to name its city recreational complex in honor of Mr. Casey.
He grew up playing basketball in its old elementary school gym, where he starred on seventh- and eighth-grade teams, and he continued to hone his immense talents there on summer days, even when he had gone on to stardom at the University of Kentucky.
He played many softball games on the old diamond, too, and we’re sure he would recount many other sandlot games played on those grounds.
Simpsonville was Mr. Casey’s defacto hometown, though his family lived in various places around the area, and its leaders should remember him and ensure that generations recall a man who is perhaps its most famous son.
Then there’s a matter for the Shelby County School Board: The gymnasium at Shelby County High School should be named in memory of Mike Casey.
He was a hero in that facility for three years, 1964-66, bringing the first real sets of hardware to the trophy case in its lobby, including the state basketball championship and a runner-up trophy in baseball in 1966, along with various other invitational and post-season titles.
He also was the school’s first Mr. Basketball, an honor for which he was appropriately if belatedly honored with a banner-raising last fall.
But that doesn’t go far enough.
Mr. Casey is Shelby County High School’s athletic legacy, the bar by which all who followed has been set. He also was the leader of a team that set a standard by which all subsequent teams have been judged, a team that played to thousands of Shelby Countians every time it took to the court.
He represented his home county with excellence while playing for UK and in two weeks will be the first Shelby Countian inducted into the Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame.
Since his playing days he has continued to be dedicated to the success and tradition of his school, following the Rockets closely and attending games frequently. He was a recognizable and cordial celebrity among the masses.
If the school board has any concern about committing to this idea, its members need to look only as far as across the parking lot to the school’s football stadium, which is named in memory of longtime booster and benefactor Robert Doyle.
Certainly Mr. Doyle contributed significantly to the teams and athletes at SCHS, and his efforts are deserving of such remembrance.
But Mike Casey introduced the Rockets as an athletic powerhouse that drew attention from around the state and the nation. He is the school’s iconic alumnus, and he is deserving of having the building named in his honor.
We hope that in the next couple of weeks, we will hear from both Simpsonville and the school board that Mike Casey’s name will live on in perpetuity through their facilities.