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SoIN Style

An invitation to explore with Extol

There’s so much to love about Southern Indiana, including the places we call home. Whether you own, rent, lease or are selling your abode, we want to see your SoIN style and what makes your pad the preferred place to be.

We’re looking for residences that are old, new, big, little, unique, classic, interesting, futuristic, inspiring, vintage, immaculate, wacky, wonderful, historic, brand-new – and everything in between.

We’ll never give your address or share any identifying information about your home’s whereabouts – unless you ask us to – but will explore what defines your SoIN style in your personal sanctuary.

If you’re interested, send an email to extol@extolmag.com and put “Welcome Home” in the subject line.


Creatively inspired by Ben Franklin Crafts in New Albany


By Morgan Sprigler

If you know me well, you know I love gifts. Gifts for any reason – especially thank-yous. But, when asked to create a business thank you gift for this month’s issue, I must admit I was a bit stumped. I knew I didn’t want to do something redundant like flowers or candy (not that these items aren’t appreciated). I wanted something for you readers that would portray your appreciation for your co-workers or business partners that was original and fun but still professional. I think I have produced something thoughtful and useful that anyone would appreciate. Read below to learn how to make a DIY “scent-sational” thank you guft. Happy Crafting!



Decorative glass jar or vase with small opening and large bottom

Small glass or plastic jar/container with lid

Sturdy gift box

Wood moss or Easter grass

Small wooden dowel rods


Small flower embellishments

Jojoba or avocado oil (1 fl. oz. each)

Fragrance oil

Thank you card and envelope



Hot glue gun


Step One

Begin by cutting down your dowel rods, if necessary. This will all depend on how large or tall your glass jar is and how high you want your dowel rods to be. I cut mine down about 3 inches. This can be accomplished by using regular scissors. Be mindful of who is standing around you when cutting these, as they can go flying. Cut a piece of twine about 6 inches long and wrap around your dowel rods. Finish with a simple bow and set asideimg_6790

Step Two

Remove the lid on your box and hot glue it to the bottom (for traveling purposes). Fill your box with the wood moss or Easter Grass.

Step Three

Pour your oils into your small container and secure the lid. I recommend using this container to hold your oil instead of pouring it directly into your decorative jar for traveling purposes. You don’t want your oil to spill inside your box before you present it. Additionally, the recipient will have the opportunity to transfer the oil from the container to the jar, which is a unique and interactive experience.img_6797

Step Four

Decorate! Using your hot glue gun, apply lace or ribbon around the perimeter of the box. Wrap twine around your jar and glue your flowers wherever you see fit.img_6799

Step Five

Fill out your thank you card. I used the phrase, “We made a scent-sational team. Thank you for your partnership.” I love a good play on words. Have fun with this, although a simple “thank you” will suffice.


All the supplies used to make these diffusers can be found at Ben Franklin Crafts, 420 New Albany Plaza in New Albany, which is locally owned and now has an amazing selection of women’s apparel in what’s known as Ben’s Boutique.


I see these “scent-sational” diffusers adorning a desk in a lobby or office, a break room in a place of business, or even at the recipient’s home.


Gratitude in the work place is an absolute must. Positive reinforcement creates a positive environment.


Wishing you much success with this project, in business and in all your endeavors, both personal and professional.





Harvest Homecoming 2018: It’s Going to Be A Bash

51st annual festival begins Oct. 6


Southern Indiana’s renowned fall festival kicks off Oct. 6 in downtown New Albany.


Harvest Homecoming returns for the 51st year, this time featuring the theme “Pumpkin Bash.”


“The name speaks for itself: it is a celebration of everything Harvest,” festival officials said in a release. “This year is going to be a ‘bash’ of a good time, so it is only fitting that the theme be ‘Pumpkin Bash.’”


One of the top three highest-attended festivals in Indiana, Harvest Homecoming is part holiday, part tourist attraction, part tradition and all things Southern Indiana.



Harvest Homecoming Festival 2018

Oct. 6-14 in New Albany



Harvest Homecoming Office

431 Pearl St.

New Albany

Open 12 to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday




Harvest Homecoming Mission Statement

Harvest Homecoming is a group of volunteers dedicated to providing a family-oriented festival. It unites the community in a spirit of fellowship and is committed to continuous improvement.


Harvest Homecoming History

On the night of Oct. 10, 1967, the community of New Albany debuted its inaugural Pumpkin Festival with a parade. The following weekend, folks gathered downtown to enjoy a farmers market, the sale of pumpkin pie, cider and barbecued chicken, a public square dance, and a battle of the bands. Downtown merchants held a Harvest of Values Square, and the festival culminated with pumpkin growing and decorating and costume contests.


While the initial festival was the creation of the New Albany Chamber of Commerce Tourism Committee – founding members included Cora Jacobs, Henry Ramsier and Paul Lipps – today the annual event beckons hundreds of thousands of visitors to what is now known as Harvest Homecoming.


In its 51st year, Harvest Homecoming is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit and is managed by an all-volunteer board of directors and officers.




This is only a small sampling of events. For a complete list, go to harvesthomecoming.com.


Saturday, Oct. 6

  • Opening Ceremonies: 11:30 a.m., Seventh and Spring streets

Kick off the 2018 Harvest Homecoming festival at opening ceremonies. Musical entertainment TBA and will begin at 10:30 am. Stay and watch the annual parade!

  • Harvest Homecoming Parade: 12 p.m., starts at New Albany High School and ends at Bank and Elm streets

Come experience over-the-top floats, vintage cars and more. The parade kicks off at 12 p.m. from New Albany High School, marches down Vincennes Street, takes a right on Spring Street and ends on Bank Street. You can have a front row seat to all the action along any street. This year’s grand marshal is Jesse Ras, cohost of 106.9 Play’s Morning Play program.


Sunday, Oct. 7

  • Pumpkin Decorating Contest: 2 p.m., New Albany Farmers Market on corner of Bank and Market streets

This is Harvest Homecoming’s oldest event, Group- or individually-prepared pumpkins may be painted or decorated with any material. Craft entries may be ceramic, fiber or maché. No previous year craft entries accepted. There will be two Grand Champion Awards (one from the Individual category and one from the Group category) for the entry most closely related to this year’s theme, “Pumpkin Bash.” All entrants receive participation award. This event is free. All pumpkins must be picked up and taken from event. Any leftover pumpkins will be thrown away.


Monday, Oct. 8

  • Kids’ Dog Show: 5 p.m. registration; 5:30 p.m. start time, at New Albany Amphitheater

Open to kids ages 3-13 years old. Dogs must be at least six months old, have all shots and be on a leash or contained. Awards for Best Costume, Best Trick, A Face Only A Mother Could Love, Best Groomed, Best Overall and Most Interesting Pet (this can be any legal, domestic animal; same vaccination and leash/containment rules apply). Entrants can enter maximum of three categories.


Tuesday, Oct. 9

  • Purdue Pumpkin Chunking Competition: 4-7 p.m., Purdue Polytechnic New Albany, 3000 Technology Ave.

Watch teams of all ages fire pumpkins from a gravity-powered trebuchet in this high-flying competition. Awards for accuracy, originality and efficiency will be presented.


Thursday, Oct. 11

  • Craft & Food Booth Days Begin: Booths are open 12 to 9 p.m. Oct. 11, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Oct. 12, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Oct. 13 and 12 to 5 p.m. Oct. 14 on Market, Pearl and Bank streets.screen-shot-2018-10-09-at-2-13-38-am
  • Bourbon on the River: 5-9 p.m., Sounds Unlimited Productions Party Tent on the New Albany Riverfront

If you like bourbon, this is event is for you. Purchase regular entry tickets for $45 (enter beginning 6 p.m.) or VIP tickets for $60 (enter beginning at 5 p.m.). The VIP Experience includes meeting master distillers; tickets for tastings, tours and door tickets at the distillery; and special souvenirs. A limited number of tickets will be sold for this event. For more information, contact Rosie Bryant at 502.541.4056.
Friday, Oct. 12

  • Harvest Homecoming Business Luncheon: Lunch is served 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., Sounds Unlimited Productions Party Tent on the New Albany Riverfront

The show will immediately follow lunch and features Brent Rogers as emcee.


Saturday, Oct. 13

  • Kids’ Day in the Tent: 12 to 3 p.m., Bicentennial Park at Spring and Pearl streets in downtown New Albany

Don’t miss this free event featuring hands-on activities, displays and interactions for kids through the 6th grade (must be accompanied by an adult).  This all takes place under and around the giant white tent at the corner of Spring and Pearl Streets at the Bicentennial Park.


Sunday, Oct. 14
• Closing Ceremonies: 4:15 p.m. at the Harvest Homecoming Stage, State and Market streets

Head to the Harvest Homecoming Stage for Closing Ceremonies, prizes drawings, awards and announcements.


Fiesta Rides

  • Fiesta Rides are located at the end of Pearl Street and are open 1 to 6 p.m. Oct. 6 and 7; 5 to 9 p.m. Oct. 8 and 9; and 5 to 10 p.m. Oct. 10. Fiesta Rides will not have set closing time for the following Booth Days: open at 3 p.m. Oct. 11, 11 a.m. Oct. 12, 10 a.m. Oct. 13 and 12 p.m. Oct. 14.screen-shot-2018-10-09-at-2-13-44-am

An Experience To Last A Lifetime

acr5516202132275229723156Welcome to En-joy The Venue at Flat Rock Estates. We are a new upscale outdoor wedding and event venue in southern Indiana. The ceremony space at En-joy is one of a kind with breathtaking views of Sydney lake and stadium style seating so every view is unobstructed. En-joy The Pavilion is an outdoor Amish built reception space where your guests will be in awe surrounded by nature as they celebrate weddings, company outings, class reunions, graduations or family gatherings. At En-joy The Venue we don’t just hold events we help create memories that last a lifetime. Welcome to the place that will set the mood for your event long before it ever begins. Welcome to En-joy.screen-shot-2018-08-20-at-11-34-08-am screen-shot-2018-08-20-at-11-34-15-am screen-shot-2018-08-20-at-11-34-21-am

For Tours Email Sydney@enjoythevenue.com

13967 E Flatrock Trail Henryville IN 47126

www.enjoythevenue.com | 812.727.5545


John & Emily Goldman


Photography by Tony and Mandy Bennett of Tony Bennett Photography


How we met.

We met through mutual friends, Bobby and Sara Hughes.

Our first date.

John took me to Jeff Ruby’s.

Our engagement story.

It was the Sunday before my birthday and we went to brunch at Rivue. John wasn’t eating much, and I was eating everything. Then, he said we should get a picture, and we asked our waitress to take our picture up in a private room at the restaurant. After she took a few pictures, he said, “Wait, I want you to take one more,” and that’s when he got down on one knee.

Our wedding day memories.

Having all of the people we love in one room to celebrate us was pretty awesome. We both were calmer throughout the day than we ever expected to be. For Emily, the best memories from that day include getting ready at the Bridal Lounge at Eventful 203 with everyone, my bridesmaids reaction when they saw me in my dress for the first time, Johnny’s smile when he saw me walk down the aisle, my niece owning the dance floor all night long, the father-daughter dance, dancing with friends and family all night, and having family and friends in from out of town meant a lot. For John, the best memories from that day include having breakfast at A Nice Restaurant to start off the day, seeing all of the nephews wearing Indiana University gear, seeing his bride walk down the aisle, dancing with his mom to Eric Church and seeing the limo bus pull up outside of church during the ceremony.


330 miles, 3 days, 1 journey

screen-shot-2018-08-20-at-3-35-02-amBy Kevin Kernen

Between July 15 and July 17 I rode my bicycle from Louisville to Chicago to see Louisville City FC take on Chicago in the U.S. Open Cup on July 18. This is what happened.

The idea for me began back in February, I can’t remember exactly what made me want to take a tour like this, but spring break was nearing in March, I have never been the sort to take the usual path, I love commuting on my bike and riding around town, so I thought about taking my bike on a trip somewhere.

I did some research into what it took for a ride like this, and I developed a training program, spending hours on a stationary bike a few times a week and procuring the gear I would need, nary a stone went unturned.

I decided early on that I would undertake the tour on my daily commuter bicycle, a 6ku brand Urban Track Bike, a single-speed bicycle that, while lightweight, was in no way suited to this sort of riding. The fact that it had a single gear meant that the bike wouldn’t quite have the right ratio for any situation, and I was using more energy than a more suited bike would necessitate. I considered it just adding to the challenge.

I planned to leave for Chicago on March 14, splitting the trip into four legs, camping along the way, with a bus ride back. I was set to leave when 24 hours before my departure, I got a pair of offers I couldn’t believe. One was to commentate on Louisville City’s opening match of the season for radio, and the other was to join Lance McGarvey on his Soccer City Radio show, so the trip was postponed indefinitely.

Fast forward to June 21. LouCity was fresh off an incredible win against Nashville Soccer Club in the U.S. Open Cup and drew the Chicago Fire in the quarterfinals to be played on July 17. I’d been handed the role as color commentator for Louisville City for the whole season, so this was the perfect time to make up the trip, and I went back and found the route I had planned previously.

I went on a handful of training rides but probably not enough. I tweaked my route to shorten the distance because I wanted to make sure I could make it to Chicago, riding about 75 miles a day, not to ask too much of myself. I set July 15 as my departure date.

To keep myself accountable, I announced my errand on Soccer City a week before, but as the day grew nearer, my feet got colder. The forecast was ominous and I was nervous. I wasn’t in the shape I was in the first time around. Even back in March, while I did prepare myself for the distance, I didn’t really seek out any advice on doing this sort of thing.

I was prepared to call it off again up until the day before. Then, I decided I would undertake the task. I had all the snacks and drink mixes that I needed, so I was prepared on that front, and I told myself that I would probably look back on this as a worthwhile adventure.

July 15 was departure day. My goal for the day was to make it to Edinburgh and find a place to camp west of town. Seymour was the goal for lunch. I made my way over the Big Four Bridge and found a route north, US-31. Normally I wanted to avoid highways, but it was a quiet Sunday morning and the surface was pristine.

I remember from my training rides that my personal threshold for pain was around 40 miles. If I could make it past that then I felt like I could ride forever.

The first 20 or so miles were some of the quickest I’d ever clocked on a ride. I felt great until I neared that magical 40th mile. I edged past it and made it to Seymour by 1 p.m. I was feeling great. I was only a couple hours away from where I wanted to keep the night, so I took my time getting back on the bike. Only about an hour back on the road, I got a call from a friend in Indianapolis, and everything changed.

My bike riding friend Logan asked me when I expected to be in the city and if I wanted company on my ride through Indy. I was planning to cut across the state before I would get there, but he offered me a place to stay if I made it to his house. At that point, it was 2:30 p.m. and 60 miles separated me from my destination. If I made it, I would cover 120 miles in all, eclipsing a “Century,” the ultimate goal for many amateur cyclists.

The second half of that first day was quite taxing. My legs were getting heavy, my right Achilles was bothering me, the roads I found myself on were unrefined and coarse, but I was determined to get to Indy and have a roof over my head. I made it in by 7:30 p.m., blowing my own mind and shattering my expectations.

The next day, I woke up with sore legs. Logan rode with me to the coffee shop he works at and gave me coffee and breakfast before directing me onto the Monon Trail, a rails-to-trail project that led me out of the city and into plains of central Indiana.

On my way out of the city, I contemplated whether I would press the advantage I had made the previous day and try and make it to Chicago a day early or keep a conservative pace and stay at a campground that was recommended on the north side of Lafayette about 75 miles away. The wide open vistas that greeted me between the end of the Monon Trail and Lafayette were exactly what you would expect: mind-numbing expanses of corn fields with the odd soybean lot thrown in. The roads got a little bit better, most of it was asphalt with an odd bitumen road thrown in. I didn’t know what was awaiting me on the second half of this leg, though.

The second half of Monday was the worst time I have ever had on a bike.

At my lunch stop in Frankfort, Indiana, a truck driver spotted me in my cycling jersey and noted he passed me on the way into town. He suggested a route into Lafayette that I had already considered, and I headed that way after I recharged my batteries. The route into Lafayette, IN-38, was a four-lane concrete highway on which the speed limit was 55. I was stuck on the shoulder for 20 odd miles, and it was both tedious and unnerving, magnified by the fact that I forgot my earbuds in Indianapolis. I got off as quickly as I could and made hasty my advance to the north. It was 4 p.m. when I came up on the campground I was advised on. If I stopped, I wouldn’t be able to make it to Chicago by Tuesday, so I pressed on, unsure of where I would spend the night.

Indiana is generally flat, but the majority of roads still had small grades. The gently rolling hills wore on me, physically and mentally. I would come up on a slight hill, only to crest it and be faced with another batch of inclines. After I got off the nightmare in Lafayette and pressed on further north, I googled a hotel in Remington that was within my grasp, and was exactly 100 miles from Bridgeview, Illinois. I figured if I could make it to Remington, I deserved it.

The last 10 miles of that day were fueled solely by the promise of an ice bath and a bed once I reached the hotel. Having completed another century, it was every bit as rewarding as I envisioned.

July 16 was basically a victory lap. I had 40 miles to cover on the road before I made it to another rail-to-trail affair that would lead me into the city. These trails were a shelter from the incessant passage of traffic that would blow by me at varying distances and speeds, but each car that blew by me would chip away a small piece of sanity and sense of security. The majority of the day was mostly a blur, to be honest. I remember a challenging headwind between 10-14 miles an hour impeding my progress, but after I had decided that I wanted to make three centuries in three days, I told myself, repeatedly, that nothing was going to keep me from making it to my destination.

I made it into Bridgeview just before 7 with a celebratory bottle of prosecco in hand, a la Tour de France. A third century made it a hat trick, and that was very gratifying.

The journey was demanding. It was tough, but I never regretted the choice. Even when I watched LouCity lose the match to Chicago.

In the end, I’m glad that I didn’t seek out any advice beforehand because I probably would have been dissuaded. I was ultimately underprepared, but as I told myself, verbally, nothing was going to stop me. It wasn’t easy, be anything worthwhile rarely is.

Kevin Kernen, who hitched a ride home from Chicago with the Louisville Coopers, the amazing LouCity supporters, has been covering the local soccer scene for Extol since January 2017. He is the current radio color commentator for Louisville City FC and co-hosts the Soccer City Radio show on Saturday from 9-10 a.m. on 790 KRD.


Community Foundation Announces Scholarships

THE COMMUNITY FOUNDATION OF SOUTHERN INDIANA has awarded more than 100 scholarships totaling more than $450,000 in support for Southern Indiana students this academic year. The scholarships include $302,000 from funds held at the Community Foundation and awards for the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program.

Linda Speed, president and CEO of the Community Foundation said, “We’re fortunate to live in a community that believes in educating our future generations and couldn’t be more thankful to our donors, fund holders, and the Lilly Endowment for their generosity and support of our region’s students. With the increasing cost of education, these scholarships provide invaluable resources to help students pursue their goals.”

The Community Foundation allows individuals, businesses and families to create scholarships and establish their own, unique criteria. Scholarship applications from students throughout the community are reviewed and scored by independent committees of volunteers who assess applicants anonymously.

The Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program will provide scholarships for otherwise unreimbursed full tuition, required fees, and a special allocation of up to $900 per year for required books and required equipment for four years of undergraduate study on a full-time basis, leading to a baccalaureate degree at any Indiana public or private nonprofit college or university accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

To learn more about the Community Foundation and its scholarship program please visit cfsouthernindiana.com.screen-shot-2018-08-20-at-2-02-16-am

Talented baker
Lydia Sprigler.

Letter From the Editor | June/July 2018

By Angie Fenton   

The Extol Team is thrilled to have Lydia Sprigler as the subject of our featured cover story. The winner of MESA’s Kid Baking Contest, Lydia wowed the judges with her sweet skills and will be the guest of honor at our launch party, which is 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. June 21 at MESA, 216 Pearl St. in New Albany. Attendees of the free, family-friendly event will get a chance to enjoy Lydia’s baking and other appetizers at this edition of our signature event. We hope you’ll join us. By the way, if you have a budding young baker in your family, Food Network contacted MESA KIDS (coming soon to New Albany) and asked for help finding talented kids ages 8 to 13 to cast for season 5 of the network’s Kids Baking Championship show. You can find more information at www. mesakidscookingschool.com.

Talented baker Lydia Sprigler.

Talented baker
Lydia Sprigler.

In this issue, we remember and celebrate the life of Bekki Jo Schneider, who made Derby Dinner Playhouse a must-visit Southern Indiana institution. We are grateful to Jon Huffman and Arts-Louisville.com for allowing us to share his tribute to Bekki Jo.

It has been enjoyable watching basketball standout Romeo Langford mature into a young man who is preparing to head to Indiana University. We caught up with the Hoosier for a quick Q&A and photo shoot at The Pepin Mansion, where he, once again, displayed why he’s a fan favorite on and off the court.

Romeo Langford with fans Elliott Baker, 7, and his sister Eve Baker, 5.

Romeo Langford with fans Elliott
Baker, 7, and his sister Eve Baker, 5.

Amid the articles and columns about summer fun, food, exploring Southern Indiana (and beyond), sports, fitness, fashion, home renovation and philanthropy, you’ll also find several though-provoking first-person pieces. Zach McCrite shares an honest account of his recent 80-pound weight loss. Ray Lucas imparts the wisdom he learned from his father. Guest contributor Amy Gesenhues gives a glimpse of her family’s 100-year garden. And Miranda McDonald details a recent trip that includes coming to terms with what it means to be divorced.

Many thanks to our advertising partners for their support, which allows us to remain a free publication. And, all of us at Extol greatly appreciate you, our readers.



Arizona Dreaming

Drew Ellis is in sunny Scottsdale right now, on a journey to make a major league baseball team.

There are no guarantees. He’s not asking for any.screen-shot-2018-04-04-at-2-39-17-am

By Steve Kaufman | Photos by Tony Bennett

In February, Drew Ellis of Jeffersonville,

Indiana, got on a plane to Arizona, along with

thousands of other people escaping winter snows.

It was the warmer weather and sunshine

drawing him there. But he wasn’t going to sit

around a resort pool. He was going there to

work. He has a job in Scottsdale, which started

in February, with April not far behind.

For the next couple of months, Ellis would

be running and exercising, swinging a bat and

scooping up infield grounders, throwing and

catching. What he really hoped to catch was

someone’s attention.

Ellis works for baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks,

who had their best season last year since the team

of Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling and Luis Gonzalez

won the 2001 major league championship. The

Diamondbacks won 93 games in 2017, third-best

in the entire National League, before succumbing

to their division rival Los Angeles Dodgers in the


Ellis wasn’t in Phoenix while all this was going

on. He was in Hillsboro, Oregon, playing for the

Hillsboro Hops of the Northwest League, Arizona’s

affiliate in what is called Short Season A. Only the

Rookie League is a lower designation.

Hillsboro did the parent club one better, winning

its league pennant, beating out the Eugene (Ore.)

Emeralds, a Chicago Cubs affiliate; the Boise

(Idaho) Hawks, a Colorado Rockies affiliate; and

the Salem-Keizer (Ore.) Volcanoes, a San Francisco

Giants affiliate, in the league’s South Division.

Ellis was the Hops’ starting third baseman once

he got to Hillsboro, hitting what for him was a

disappointing .227, but getting eight home runs

and driving in 23 runs in his 41 games.

“I played really well for the first 30 or so games,

then struggled a bit,” he said. “My power numbers

were good, but my average wasn’t where I wanted

it to be. Probably good to have those struggles

early in my career, though, so I know what it takes

to overcome them, how to work out of them.”

And now it’s on to spring training camp.

Hillsboro is far from Phoenix, and not just on a

line drawn on a map. It’s the lowest rung on a very

high ladder going up through four more minor

league levels in the Diamondback organization,

all the way to Reno, Nevada, the team’s Triple A

affiliate in the Pacific Coast League.

The highest rung on the ladder, of course, is

the ultimate goal – an Arizona uniform. A seat in

the D-backs’ dugout. Hearing your name called:

“Batting fifth and playing third base, Drew Ellis!”

But first…

For this summer, the Jeffersonville youngster

has set his sights on an assignment to the Visalia

Rawhide of the Advanced A California League.

It would be a promotion, all part of the climb.

It’s a slog. And a numbers game. Most of the

ballplayers in the Short Season League will likely

never get to the majors. Ellis knows that.

His short season was shorter than most. He

wasn’t drafted until June, in the second round

of Major League Baseball’s 2017 draft, the 44th

overall pick. That spring, he had been a key cog in

the University of Louisville’s march to the College

World Series. So, he’s now 22, a mere baby in most

professions but a late starter in professional sports.

On the other hand, a good thing about playing

sports is that your performance is out there on

the field. If you’re good, you’re good.

Ellis was good at the University of Louisville.

He hit .367 with 20 home runs and earned All-

American honors on the team that won 53 of 65

games, all the way to Omaha, beating Texas A&M

before back-to-back losses to Florida and TCU

cancelled the dream.screen-shot-2018-04-04-at-2-40-37-am

“It was a super-special year,” he recalled. “The

most fun I’ve had playing baseball – not just

because we were winning, but because of the

way we were winning.”

He also said “the atmosphere on campus was

great. One reason I chose Louisville was because

of the fan support. They showed up even when

it was cold out.”

It was a close team, too, and Ellis spent much

of the off-season working out at the UofL athletic

facilities with ex-teammates like Brendan McKay,

Colby Fitch and Devin Hairston, three of several

Cardinals who were also drafted by big-league


McKay was a first-round pick of the Tampa Bay

Rays. He spent the season in Wappinger Falls, N.Y.,

with the Hudson Valley Renegades of the New

York-Pennsylvania League. A versatile athlete

who played first base and pitched in college, he

hit .232 and won his only pitching decision.

Shortstop Hairston was drafted in the fourth

round and spent 2017 in Appleton, Wisconsin,

with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, a Milwaukee

Brewers property in the Class A Midwest League.

He hit .210 and made 10 errors in 44 games.

Fitch, the Cards’ catcher, was drafted in the 13th

round by the Philadelphia Phillies. He split the

summer between the Lakewood (N.J.) Blue Claws

of the South Atlantic League and Williamsport

(Pa.) Crosscutters of the New York-Pennsylvania

League. Fitch hit only .217 at Lakewood, but .350

in Williamsport.

The point is, it’s a long haul for almost everybody,

even the best college players. But it’s all part of

the dream, a dream so many young athletes have

growing up.

Ellis recalled first dreaming the dream at

Jeffersonville High School, when he saw other

local players getting scouted by pro teams. “I

remember thinking, ‘I’m as good as these guys,

but I’m not getting any attention.’ So I changed

my thinking, and started working my butt off.”

He had been a shortstop in high school, but

Louisville coach Dan McDonnell moved him to

third in college because the Cardinals already had

slick-fielding Hairston. That makes Ellis’ prospects

on the Diamondbacks somewhat problematic.

They already have a third baseman. Jake Lamb

hit 30 home runs and drove in 105 runs last year.

And he’s only 26.

A scouting report on Ellis said defense is his

biggest question mark – “lack of range” – and that

maybe first base is a better option. But the D-backs

also have a first baseman. Paul Goldschmidt hit

.297 last year, with 36 home runs and 120 RBIs. He

was third in the National League’s Most Valuable

Player voting.

Still, Ellis knows major league rosters are fluid.

Free agency makes everything unpredictable.

Who knows where Lamb or Goldschmidt will

be in two years?

More important, Ellis knows he can only worry

about Ellis. The rest will follow. “They haven’t

talked to me much yet about where I’ll be,” he

said. “Wherever I play, my expectation is to play

as well as I can play. They’ll put me where they put

me. I’ve just got to do what I’ve always done, by

preparing the way I prepare. Do the little things I

need to do, to make sure I’m on top of my game.”

There’s a level-headedness there about an

outcome Ellis can’t control except to prepare for

the best so he can expect the best. Partly, that’s

a work ethic first drilled into him by his high

school coach, Derek Ellis, who also happens to

be his father.

And partly, it’s the result of a faith he acquired

while in high school, when he was baptized by

his friend, “one of best decisions of my life, to

follow Jesus.”

He said he struggled a little bit as a high school

freshman, as so many freshmen do, not knowing

which crowd to follow. But since his baptism, he

said, “I know who my Lord and Savior is. And

life is easier when you have someone to rely on.

When times are hard or going well, through ups

and downs and struggles, it’s been good for me

to rely on my faith to get through those.”

He said he’s seen teammates make some choices

he wouldn’t have made, “not necessarily because

they’re bad people but because they haven’t had

a faith to help them out.”

There will be ups and downs in Ellis’ baseball

career, just because there are ups and downs in

that life for everybody. He seems well-equipped

to handle both.

And it’s not just because he can hit the fastball.


Ben Franklin Beauties

By JD Dotson

For 27 years, Ben Franklin Crafts in New Albany

has been Southern Indiana’s go-to supply stock

up store for all kinds of crafts persons and artists.

Home to an eclectic mix of gifts and accessories,

frame shop, fabric store, and the largest collection

of art, crafting and scrapbooking supplies, Ben

Franklin’s also makes your Derby ensemble easily

customizable and unique. Their collection of

fascinators and women’s hats range from subtle

and demure to show-stopper and avant-garde.

Hats are ready to go right out of the store, or

for the extra personal touch can be embellished

by a team of designers to match an outfit or a

personal style.

Ben Franklin Crafts even has every bit, piece

and part, feather, ribbon and sequins, and hat or

fascinator base for the DIY crafter to build their

own masterpiece.

Ben Franklin’s also did not forget about the guys

and carries a huge selection of handmade local

bowties and pocket squares by local designer Ethan

Thomas. Ethan’s use of pattern and color add a

bit of spring flair to a Derby suit. Top the look off

with one of their straw hats, add a feather in the

band and you are ready to place bets.

Ben Franklin also carries a line of clear and

correctly-sized bags to comply with Churchill

Downs’ regulations, as well as a credit card,

tamper-free wallet to keep your bank account

safe from thieves.

We have picked out a few of our favorites.