As we celebrate Eastern’s first and greatest women’s soccer star, Kim Labelle, we are also preparing to celebrate another class of Eastern soccer seniors. One Wednesday 9/20 Eastern Soccer will recognize this year’s senior class during halftime of the Eastern vs. Providence game that begins at 7pm.
Eastern Legend: Kim Labelle
Eastern Alum (c/o 1994) Kim Labelle’s Eastern story is a remarkable one. Hers is a story of a tremendous athlete and a fierce competitor but also a member of a pioneering group of young ladies that started the first Eastern women’s soccer team. Her individual accomplishments are remarkable but her leadership in the start of women’s soccer at Eastern got the program off to a great start.
- High School All-American (1993),
- Kentucky’s First Miss Kentucky Soccer (1994)
- Kentucky High School Athletic Associations (KHSAA) Hall of Fame (2012)
- Eastern single-season goals record: 42 goals
Having grown up in Arvada, CO and started playing soccer at the age of 4, women’s sports were always very prominent. So I was shocked to learn that when I moved to KY in 1989 that I would have to play for my High School’s boys’ team. Playing on the boys’ team was an incredible experience. I was fast and skillful so I fit right in with the guys. A big help to my experience was having my twin brother by my side. The guys always protected me and really treated me no different then the others. The boys’ team was coached by Mr. Phil Coomes and Mr. Ed Hamilton.
Soccer started to become more popular in Kentucky and we knew there was a need for girls’ soccer at Eastern. My mother, Lois LaBelle, along with our principal at the time, Mr. Jim Sexton, started a petition to add a girls’ program at Eastern, which then opened the door for other High School programs to add girl’s soccer.
Eastern’s long time principal Jim Sexton had this to say about starting the women’s soccer program, “We always wanted Eastern to be a leader in academics and extra-curricular areas. It was always good for our students and our community to have areas that other schools only wished they could. Eastern did not want or wait, Eastern did! Eastern High School has always realized the importance of extra-curricular activities for their high school students. We were fortunate to have interest from female students with the knowledge and skills to make it one of our strongest, most exciting new sports.”
(Kim’s story continued)
The second half of my sophomore year (1992) a girl’s team was formed and we were coached by Mr. Crawford. For the 1993 and 1994 seasons we were coached by Colonel Schneider. During this time, if I remember correctly, we went on to play in the District Tournament a few of my teammates and I were honored by playing in the Kentucky All-Star game.
(Click to enlarge image above for the actual yearbook article from 1992-1993.)
The transition from the boy’s to the girl’s was really pretty easy. Skill and pace of the game were not as polished with the girls. With the boys I had to keep up, with the girls I felt like I was a little bit ahead of the pack.
I am happy to see that sports for women in high school and college has taken off and has given us more of an equal opportunity to play and be the athletes that we strive to be.
Because of my High School opportunities I went on to be named High School All-American (1993), Kentucky’s First Miss Kentucky Soccer (1994), and receive a full scholarship to the University of Kentucky. The program was fairly new and I was excited about the opportunity to help UK win championships and develop it into the program it is today. After my graduation from UK in 1999, I went on to be the Assistant Women’s Soccer Coach at Miami University in Oxford, OH from 1999-2007. In 2012, I was honored to be named to the Kentucky High School Athletic Associations (KHSAA) Hall of Fame.
I will forever cherish my time as a student athlete with Eastern High School and the University of Kentucky, it was full of experiences and friendships I will never forget and has helped shape me into the player, coach, and person I am.
I am truly grateful for all of the honors and opportunities that have come my way.
Sports have always been a huge passion of mine. At Eastern I played soccer, ran track, played basketball and even tried a little field hockey.
EHS Class of 1994