• Dave McGuire

Top 5: Clarksville's All-Time Athletes

Updated: May 4

The Clarksvillian

There have been long lines of exceptionally talented athletes passing through the Clarksville area. Trying to figure out the details related to preparation meeting opportunity will drive someone to a breaking point. But there have been successes coming out of local gyms, community centers and schools. And it's not just the 5 listed below that are worthy of acknowledgement. For now, we will focus on Clarksville's Top 5 Athletes listed below.

Wilma Rudolph

No surprise with Rudolph appearing on the list. In nearly every community in the country, or world, Rudolph would rank in the top 2 or 3 for top athletes.

An often-overlooked feat by Rudolph was winning a bronze medal at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, Australia – at the age of 16. At the 1960 Rome Olympics, Rudolph became "the fastest woman in the world" and the first American woman to win three gold medals in one Olympics. She won the 100- and 200-meter races and anchored the U.S. team to victory in the 4 x 100-meter relay, breaking records along the way.

In the 100, she tied the world record of 11.3 seconds in the semifinals, then won the final by three yards in 11.0. However, because of a 2.75-meter per second wind -- above the acceptable limit of two meters per second -- she didn't receive credit for a world record. In the 200, she broke the Olympic record in the opening heat in 23.2 seconds and won the final in 24.0 seconds. In the relay, Rudolph, despite a poor baton pass, overtook Germany's anchor leg, and the Americans, all women from Tennessee State, took the gold in 44.5 seconds after setting a world record of 44.4 seconds in the semifinals.

Rudolph remains the benchmark for how all women runners are measured Internationally.

Trenton Hassell

This CHS product enjoyed nine years and 644 games as an NBA veteran - which says a lot about a player’s skill set and mental toughness.

Trenton is one of a small and select group of APSU athletes to have their jerseys retired. The number of players given that distinction from the university founded in 1927? Seven. Yes, just 7. Hassell left behind an impressive stack of awards at APSU: Tennessee Sportswriters Association College Basketball Player of the Year, OVC Player of the Year, and Playboy Preseason All-America. His performance brought national attention to the university in ways that brought back memories of Lake Kelly's teams or the years of Fly Williams. Marketing isn't free, you know.

During his 9 years in the NBA, Hassell was known as one of the league’s best perimeter defenders. Reading between those lines the idea begins to form around resilience. There are countless people willing to make the argument NBA athletes are the best worldwide. And the majority of those athletes love to be creative on the offensive end – where egos can sometimes become a challenge. At one his toughest career points, even the NYC media took the time to acknowledge the professionalism and patience of Hassell. For all the rarefied air of success he’s attained on the courts, it’s his work ethic that’s been foundational as a role modeling behavior. What if this list were a balance of accomplishments, work ethic, leadership, community engagement and behavior defining a role model? If so, it’s likely Trenton Hassell would be at the top looking down.

An interesting bend in his career would be the trade sending to Dallas – for Hopkinsville native Greg Buckner. Just an amazing geographical coincidence..

Harry Galbreath

He just continues to define not just CHS football, but Clarksville. According to Hall-of-Fame coach Johnny Majors, Harry was the most dominating and aggressive run blockers he ever coached during his legendary career that included dozens of All-Americans and a national championship. The root of Majors' praise, on the field play, was certainly the sole factor leading Harry to being named an All-America his senior year at Knoxville.

In his final year with the Vols, Galbreath also collected The Jacobs Trophy as the SEC's best blocker to book end his All-American award. The building of accolades and on-the-field play securely positioned Galbreath for a strong NFL career.

Galbreath went on to play five seasons with the Miami Dolphins, earning a spot on the NFL’s all-rookie team, before ending his career with three seasons in Green Bay (1993-95) and one last season with the New York Jets (1996).

Not a bad resume with names such as NFL Hall-of-Fame QBs Dan Marino and Bret Favre listed among those you've protected year over year.

Bashaara Graves

Bashaara's teams won 127 games, captured four straight District 10 regular season and tournament titles. They won two Region 5 championships, three Class 3A sectionals earned three straight 3A state tournament berths and twice reaching the state semifinal game. Now take a deep breath. That type of performance and leadership proved enough to catch the eye of a coaching legend in East Tennessee.

Through four seasons in Knoxville, Graves became one of only five Lady Vols to record 1,500 points and 1,000 rebounds in her career. She finished her career ranked 19th in scoring (1,509 points), third in rebounding (1,044) and fifth in games started (128). After her career in Knoxville came to an end, Bashaara started a new chapter with being the 22nd overall draft pick, selected by the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx. The accomplishments with the Vols, Team USA and WNBA have each blended to cement her legacy of achievement in the basketball world - that includes Clarksville, right?

With those accomplishments outlined, there's still more capable of impressing a fan. How about International play? The success Graves experienced with Team USA is something players worldwide only dream about.

Gold Medals: 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship, 2012 FIBA Americas U18 Championship, 2010 FIBA U17 World Championship, 2009 FIBA Americas U16 Championship.

Bob Rush

Rush dominated the local competition playing for NWHS and catching the eye of a key staff member at Memphis State University. While at Memphis State, Rush went on to earn three All-American awards, numerous conference recognitions and awards while building a long lasting reputation of respect in the local community. During his time, the Tigers would defeat several top tier teams along with shocking the country by defeating a #6 ranked Auburn on the road. As a senior, Rush helped Memphis win games against Ole Miss, Auburn, and Florida State. In the years prior to Bob's arrival, it wasn't a common experience for Tiger fans to see those types of wins. Rush ended his Tiger career and went on to be inducted into the University of Memphis’ Hall of Fame (known as the "M Club").

Rush was drafted by the San Diego Chargers in the first round of the 1977 NFL draft and played six seasons with the Chargers before being traded to the Kansas City Chiefs in 1983. He remained with the Chiefs for three seasons before retiring in 1986. He went on to work for the University of Memphis' broadcast team for 21 years until his retirement in the early 2000s.

*the exclusion of Shawn Marion was intentional. Over the years, Shawn has made countless efforts to minimize and distance himself from the city of Clarksville – it’s only fair to grant him that consistency.