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02/16/16 – Former KHSAA Commissioner DeVries To Receive Sue Feamster Trailblazer Award

February 16, 2016 2015-2016 News Releases


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 16, 2016

Brigid DeVries, the first female commissioner of the Kentucky High School Athletic Association, will receive the 2016 Sue Feamster Trailblazer Award on Sunday, Feb. 21 when the University of Kentucky women’s basketball team hosts Arkansas at Memorial Coliseum.

“It is certainly a pleasure to see people outside of the interscholastic community recognize the many contributions made by my friend and former colleague Brigid DeVries,” said KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett. “She was truly a trailblazer with her variety of involvements and efforts and most deserving of this outstanding award. Her commitment to opportunities as well as her passion for doing things the right way set an example for many to follow, and that continues today.”

Named in honor of the pioneering women’s basketball coach and national leader on the NCAA steering committee, the Sue Feamster Trailblazer Award is given to those who have provided exceptional leadership and paved the way for others to succeed. Past winners of the award, which started in 2008, include Feamster, T. Lynn Williamson, Gloria Singletary, Majorie Ann Porter, Ceal Barry, Valerie Still and Pat Dawson.

DeVries, who first began working at the KHSAA in 1979, was named the Association’s sixth Commissioner in 2002, a position she held for eight years until her retirement in 2010. At the time of her appointment, DeVries was one of only three females serving as Commissioners/Executive Directors at state associations across the country (Kentucky, New York and California).

DeVries, who earned a bachelors’ degree from Kentucky in 1971 and a master’s degree in 1975, started working at UK in 1973 when all of the women’s sports were played at the club level under the supervision of the Department of Campus Recreation. As a graduate assistant from 1973-75, DeVries coached women’s golf, volleyball and track, while assisting with the women’s swimming and diving teams.

Working alongside Feamster, DeVries helped develop Kentucky’s first women’s intercollegiate athletics budget when Feamster was appointed as the first Women’s Assistant Athletics Director at UK. Several women’s sports were elevated from the club level to the varsity level during that time, with scholarship opportunities offered, and moved into the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. One of DeVries’ students, Myra Van Hoose Blackwelder, received one of UK’s first women’s athletic scholarships.

In 1976, DeVries became the head coach for women’s swimming and diving and track and field at Ohio University. She returned to Lexington in 1979 when she accepted an Assistant Commissioner position with the KHSAA, while also serving as UK’s head diving coach from 1980-90.

DeVries served as an Assistant Commissioner with the Association from 1979-94, when she was named Executive Assistant Commissioner, a position she held until 2002. Her roles and duties evolved over the years with the Association, but one of her lasting contributions was her work with the KHSAA’s Title IX reporting and review program, helping to ensure equal opportunities for male and female student-athletes. She served on the NFHS Board of Directors from 2002-05, and the NFHS Foundation Board of Directors from 2006-10, along with various other sports rules committees and strategic planning committees on the national level. She was inducted into the University of Kentucky Swimming and Diving Hall of Fame in 1995, and joined the KHSAA Hall of Fame in 2010.

Following her retirement from Association in 2002, DeVries became an instructor in the Kinesiology and Health Promotions Department at Kentucky (2011-14). She currently serves on several local Boards including the Bluegrass Sports Commission, Bluegrass State Games and the Kentucky Ballet Theatre.

Tickets to the Kentucky-Arkansas game are available online at, with parking and other information available at


About the Kentucky High School Athletic Association
The Kentucky High School Athletic Association was organized in 1917 and is the agency designated by the Kentucky Department of Education to manage high school athletics in the Commonwealth. The Association is a voluntary nonprofit 501(c)3 organization made up of 277 member schools both public and private. The KHSAA sanctions 43 state championships in 13 sports and 4 sport-activities, licenses and trains over 4,000 officials, provides catastrophic insurance for its more than 70,000 member school student-athletes, as well as overseeing coaching education and sports safety programs.


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