Top 5: Clarksville's All-Time Athletes

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

There is no surprise to find Rudolph appearing on the list. In nearly every community of the country, or world, Rudolph would rank in the top 2 or 3 of best local athletes.

An often-overlooked feat by Rudolph was winning a bronze medal at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, Australia – at the age of 16. During the 1960 Rome Olympics, Rudolph became "the fastest woman in the world" and the first American woman to win three gold medals in one Olympic Games. Wilma 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 select group of former APSU athletes to have their jerseys retired from their respective sport. What is the total number of players given that distinction from a university founded in 1927? Seven. Yes, just 7. After departing APS for the NBA, Hassell left behind an impressive stack of awards on the campus court: Tennessee Sportswriters Association College Basketball Player of the Year, OVC Player of the Year, and Playboy Preseason All-America. His prime-time performances 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 forms around his personal resilience and commitment. It is far from a unique conversation to find people willing to argue that NBA athletes are the best athletes in the world. And a majority of those athletes love to be creative on the offensive end – where egos can sometimes become a challenge. At one of Trenton's tougher career moments, even the NYC media took the time to acknowledge the professionalism and patience displayed nightly. For all the rarefied air of success he’s attained on the courts, it’s his work ethic that has 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.

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

Harry Galbreath

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

In his final year with the Vols, Galbreath stacked awards such as The Jacobs Trophy (as the SEC's best blocker) and an All-American award. The building of accolades and on-the-field play securely positioned Galbreath for both the NFL draft and a strong 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 after 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. That type of performance and leadership proved more than enough to catch the eye of a certain 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 ended, 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 play on any court, men's, or women's.

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 years, the Tigers would defeat several top tier teams along with shocking the entire 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.

So, what did Bob's arrival on campus really mean for the Tigers? In the years prior to Bob's arrival, it was uncommon for Tiger fans to see wins over ranked or legacy teams. After Rush's playing days were finished, and while still broadcasting games for the university, he was also 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 returned to Memphis and worked for the University of Memphis' broadcast team for 21 years until his retirement in the early 2000s.

*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.