Winchester, VA – The Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® is pleased to announce the 2023 Apple Blossom Sports Hall of Fame Inductees, Debby Sanders and James W. “Jim” Casey. Debby and the Casey family will be honored for their contribution to sports in the region at 8:00 a.m. during the Partlow Insurance Sports Breakfast on Saturday morning, May 6, 2023, in the Tolley Dental Zone at the James R. Wilkins, Jr. Athletic and Event Center, 1188 Ralph Shockey Drive. General admission tickets are $45 and VIP tickets are $125.
Debby retired from Frederick County Public Schools after 30 years as a Health and PE teacher, Department Chair, and Head Girls’ Basketball Coach.
She coached Millbrook High School girls’ basketball team from 2004-2013 with 84 consecutive wins. The team titles include the following: State Champions 2010, 2011, 2012; Regional Champions 2010, 2011, 2012; District Champions 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013; Regional Runner-Up 2009; and State Semi-Finalists 2009.
She was named State Coach of the Year from 2010 through 2012; Regional Coach of the Year from 2009 to 2012; and District Coach of the Year in 1997 and from 2009 through 2013.
After coaching, Debby served as an assistant athletic director for one year and volunteered at numerous sporting events. She was inducted into the Millbrook Athletic Hall of Fame and started the Millbrook “Go Pink” Millbrook vs. Cancer annual events that help to raise money to support individuals and families in the community impacted by cancer.
James W. “Jim” Casey
A native of Boyce and 32-year employee of James Wood High School, James “Jim” William Casey died at the age of 92 on Jan. 8, 2023. He is remembered and missed by scores of people in the area as he is inducted into the 2023 Apple Blossom Sports Hall of Fame.
Casey is survived by two of his three children – James M. and his daughter Ann. His son, John Casey, noted blacksmith and manager of the family farm, died at age 61 this past March. Coach Casey is also survived by his brother Jerry. Jim’s wife Eleanor MacDonald died in 2005. She, with Jim, founded and operated one of West Virginia’s most successful thoroughbred and racing operations. The operation was first named for Eleanor, and then after her death, for their horse farm Taylor Mountain.
Jim graduated from Boyce Agricultural High School and the College of William and Mary where he ran track, played baseball, and was the varsity football manager. After two years in the military, Casey returned to begin his career at James Wood High School, where he was a teacher, coach, and athletic director.
Retired athletic director at Handley High School, Jimmy Omps, said of Casey, “I remember watching Casey run the cinder track at Handley, the 100-yard dash in close to 10 seconds. He was very intelligent; he knew the rules.”
Don Shirley, a retired principal at James Wood, agreed that his intelligence was a comfort to him and a sounding board. “He was good listener…I missed that greatly when he retired. He was one of the most loyal persons I can think of. He remembered everything, the kids, who did what in which game. Unbelievable!”
Former JWHS student Danny Hoopes recalled that Casey was a great strategy coach; he was not vocal, but he was a confident man. Hoopes, who Coach Casey nicknamed Hoops, Jr. greeted him that way for years. Why Hoops, Jr? Hoops was told to figure it out himself. Seems Hoops was the 1945 Kentucky Derby winner.
Casey’s son, a veterinarian like his grandfather, said, “He never really got upset about anything. He could take things in stride.”
The 1954-55 school year marked the beginning of Casey’s run of success as head coach in three sports. In baseball, he never had a losing record; his football winning record included a 10-0 season in 1964, but he was at his best with basketball. After James Wood High School hired Casey as head coach, he had a record of 132-29, winning eight District titles.
Casey’s post-educational career as horse owner and trainer featured more than 1,200 wins, including a record 35 West Virginia Breeders’ Classic victories as a trainer. Casey moved from Winchester to Charles Town, W.Va. in 2002 after acquiring 146 acres in Jefferson County.
Like his grandfather, he was generous. There is the Dr. Joseph M. Casey scholarship at Clarke County High given to a student pursuing a degree in science or veterinarian medicine. The generosity and encouragement Casey and his wife Eleanor left to future generations are scholarships named the JAMES & ELEANOR CASEY ATHLETIC SCHOLARSHIPS which are awarded yearly at James Wood High School, Millbrook High School, Sherando High School, Clarke County High School, Washington High, and Jefferson High Schools. The scholarships are used by an athlete to further their education and playing a college sport is not a requirement.
As late as 2022 he won 24 races and was at the track every morning. On the morning of January 6, 2023 Casey fell at the track and suffered a broken leg. He won the race while in surgery and seemed to be on the mend when he died two days later. His wife Eleanor had died in similar circumstances, A loose horse caused her to fall and break her hip at age 74 in 2005.
His son, James M. Casey, told the Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred journal, “He enjoyed it--the people, the horses, the races. He went to the track every day until the very end.” Casey’s racing resume records over 1,200 wins, his horse, No Love for Juba, a homebred horse, won the West Virginia Futurity on Jan. 8, the day of his death. Late in the Game, came in second.
Coach Casey’s son and daughter will accept their father’s induction into the 2023 Apple Blossom Sports Hall of Fame.
Join us at the Partlow Insurance Sports Breakfast at the Tolley Zone in the James R. Wilkins, Jr. Athletic and Event Center on Shenandoah University Campus on Saturday morning, May 6, 2023 at 8:00 a.m.
The Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival®, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting the beauty of springtime and the apple blossoms in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley through events and initiatives that enhance community spirit and showcases our local agricultural heritage.