I’ve been back from vacation for a couple of weeks and during the time I was off, we lost a Union County high school coaching legend.
Becky Thompson LaRue, who was the long-time girls basketball coach at North Union, died after a long battle with cancer.
Becky could be considered one of the pioneers for girls athletics at North Union. Up until she arrived in the fall of 1972, sports opportunities for girls were very limited.
She started the girls basketball program at North Union and guided the Lady Cats to exceptional success throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s.
Becky led NU to district championships in 1978 and 1983 and compiled a won-loss record of 146-57.
Although basketball was her sport, she helped play a big role in the formation of additional athletic opportunities for Lady Cat athletes.
Girls track and field, volleyball, cross-country and softball began programs at North Union in those years and each has had its share of success.
Girls softball and basketball have been among the top athletic claims to fame at North Union with numerous conference, district and regional titles between the two sports.
Although she graduated from Buckeye Valley High School, Becky spent her entire professional career at North Union.
She was a huge supporter of all things related to the Wildcats and Lady Cats.
She could be seen watching both NU boys and girls athletic events as long as her health allowed her.
The last time I spoke to her was in late December.
The Wildcat boys basketball team traveled to Knightstown, Ind. to play Fairbanks in the gymnasium made famous by the movie “Hoosiers.”
It was more than a two-hour drive on that Saturday, but guess who was one of the first persons I saw when I walked into the gym? That’s right, it was Becky.
She held North Union sports so dearly in her heart that she was willing to make the trip, stay overnight with nearby relatives and watch the game.
Becky didn’t have to do that, since she had long been retired from teaching and coaching.
However, she was bound and determined to see a bit of Union County sports history made on that day.
We made small talk before tip-off and she told me she was feeling pretty good.
Unfortunately, her health went on a decline during the spring.
In the interest of full disclosure, Becky’s first year as a North Union High School teacher was my freshman year at NU.
I didn’t have her for any classes as she didn’t switch to teaching math (from girls health and physical education) until after I had long graduated.
That’s probably a good thing for her. I can just imagine her tearing her hair out trying to teach me math.
Becky was North Union’s girls hoop boss when I first started at the Journal-Tribune years and years ago.
I had to learn names and faces of all the Union County coaches when I first started in this business.
A couple of whom I was already very familiar with were Becky and of course, North Union track coach Virg Rankin.
Virg, as you all remember, joined me here as a very good sports writer after he retired from teaching.
He was one of my junior high history teachers.
Becky was very good to work with from a sports editor-coach relationship. She knew I was new to this gig and went out of her way to be very helpful.
I feel I really grew into this role while working with her and so many other patient coaches throughout Union County.
Although Becky and I had a pretty good relationship, we didn’t always agree on everything. She could be feisty in her opinions and that’s OK.
Any disagreements we had, however, never lasted very long. For that, I’m thankful because I always considered her a friend.
It will difficult for folks attending future North Union athletic contests not to see Becky sitting nearby.
Rest assured, however, her enthusiastic spirit will be with the Wildcats and Lady Cats any time they play.
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