A self-proclaimed gym rat, Rick Little walked from his home in New Vienna one day back in the middle of the 1978-79 season to the gym where the East Clinton basketball team was practicing.
Then head coach Jeff Hodson asked Little if he would be interested in keeping the scorebook for the reserve basketball games. Little said yes and has been volunteering for East Clinton ever since.
Little is one of the recipients for the Southwest District Athletic Board 2016 Friend of Athletics Award. Little and others will be honored Saturday at Wright State’s Nutter Center. A dinner will be held at 5 p.m. with award presentation to be held at halftime of the 7 p.m. Div. I Southwest District championship game between Cincinnati LaSalle and Centerville.
“I was very surprised … appreciative, but very surprised,” Little said when he found out about the honor.
Little was nominated by former EC athletic director Bill Bean and current athletic director Jim Marsh.
“I was a gym rat,” Little said. “I’d go over to the gym and just shoot around. I just loved the game. I wasn’t good enough to play in school but I could shoot the ball.”
A 1975 graduate of ECHS, Little was the scorekeeper for the boys varsity and reserve basketball teams 19 years, until health issues forced him to change jobs.
“Billy (Bean) talked me into doing the clock, off and on for the girls and for boys JV, varsity and freshmen,” Little said.
In 1983, Little started working on the chain gang for EC varsity football games. In the beginning, Little worked many years on the chain gang with Steve Olds and David Cline.
In all, Little has been on scorekeeper, clock operator and chain gang member for 37 years at East Clinton.
Little said he nearly gave up the scoreboard and chain gang duties four years ago but “they talked me into going ahead and doing it. I’ll probably, at least, do it for a couple more years.”
Little said his most memorable football moment at EC came during the 1989 season when the Astros went 10-0 and earned the school’s first-ever playoff berth. The Astros won a thriller over Waynesville then closed the home portion of the schedule with a win over Cedarville.
On the basketball court, Little said East Clinton’s upset of No. 1 seed Dixie in 1986 was a game he won’t soon forget. Rodney Mitchell grabbed a missed free throw and scored on a stickback in the final seconds to give the Astros a 59-58 win.
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, or on Twitter @wnjsports.