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2003 Speakers - Mr. Ralph M. Beard, Jr.

1948 Olympic gold medalist, basketball

Lauded as a member of the gold medal-winning 1948 Olympic men’s basketball team, Ralph Beard is a basketball legend in his home state of Kentucky. Beard’s illustrious career in basketball began as a student at Male High School in Louisville, where he led the Bulldogs to a state basketball championship in 1945. Upon graduation, he entered the University of Kentucky, where he would prove an asset to the Wildcats as a guard between the years of 1945 and 1949.

Playing under Adolph Rupp, Beard received a multitude of honors both as an individual and with his team, including:

  • Selection as a three-time All-American (1946-47, 1947-48, 1948-49)
  • First-team All-Southeastern Conference honors each season (1945-9)
  • Chosen for the All-SEC tournament (1945-49)
  • Won two NCAA championships, including Kentucky’s first (1947-1948, 1948-1949)
  • Averaged 10.9 points per game throughout his four-year career at UK
  • Part of the group of basketball stars known as the “Fabulous Five”
  • Jersey #12 was retired by the University of Kentucky

In 1949, Beard was drafted to the NBA by the Chicago Stags, but instead played for the Indianapolis Olympians from 1949 to 1951. He continues to be remembered as one of the University of Kentucky’s basketball greats.

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2003 Speaker - Ms. Micki King

1972 Olympic gold medalist, diving

Lieutenant Micki King, a Michigan native, is an inspiration to hydrophiles everywhere. Diving from the age of ten, King also received renown as an undergraduate at the University of Michigan for her abilities in water polo, leading the Ann Arbor Swim Club to two AAU national championships (1961-1963) and was twice named an All-American goalie.

Upon graduation, King enlisted in the United States Air Force, where she served for 26 years while simultaneously gaining renown for her abilities as an athlete. Some of King’s national titles include:

  • Winner of the national outdoor 3-meter championship (1965, 1967, 1969, 1970)
  • 1-meter champion (1967)
  • Platform champion (1969)
  • 3-meter indoor event champion (1971, 1972)
  • Indoor platform champion (1965, 1971)

Trained under Dick Kimball, Michigan water sports coach, King was the favorite going into the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. However, on her ninth of ten dives, King broke her left forearm on the diving board, an injury that dashed her hopes of winning a medal. Undaunted, she bravely completed the event, determined to take home Olympic gold one day. She achieved her goal in Munich at the 1972 games, capturing the gold medal in the 3 meter springboard event. For her accomplishments, King has been inducted into several noteworthy organizations, including:

  • the International Swimming Hall of Fame (1978)
  • the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame (1983)
  • the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame (1992)

Though King retired from diving after winning her event, her association with the Olympics continues to the present day. Her Olympic participation post-victory includes:

  • Staff of the U.S. Olympic Diving Team in the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul
  • Staff of the U.S. Olympic Diving Team in the 1996 Centennial Olympics in Atlanta
  • Involvement in eight Olympic games
  • Current vice-president of the U.S. Olympians Association (2005-2008)

King accepted a position as the diving coach at the Air Force Academy in 1973, which she held until 1977. During this time, she became the first woman to coach a man to an NCAA title (1974). After assignments around the country and abroad, King returned to the Academy in 1983 as men’s and women’s diving coach and assistant athletics director. While there, King:

  • Earned three NCAA Diving Coach of the Year awards
  • Coached divers to 11 All-America honors and four national titles
  • Served as president of U.S. Diving (1990-1994)

In 1992, King retired from the Air Force with the rank of colonel and accepted the position of Assistant Athletics Director at the University of Kentucky.

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2003 Speaker - Ms. Tonya Cornett

2003 Olympic silver medalist, rhythmic gymnast

inner of the silver medal in rhythmic gymnastics at the 2003 Special Olympics World Games in Ireland, Tonya Cornett is also a member of the Kentucky Elite Showcats. The first Special Needs All-Star cheerleading squad in America, Cornett has been a member of the nationally-recognized team since it was founded in 2001 and currently serves as captain. Along with her involvement with the Showcats, Cornett’s other activities and accomplishments include:

  • Membership on the U.S. All-Star Federation for Cheer and Dance Teams (USASF) special needs committee
  • Speaking at the 2005 USASF Coaches Conference
  • Serving as a peer coach for Rhythmic Gymnastics for the Special Olympics
  • Acting as a Global Messenger for the Special Olympics



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