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​Excellence, leadership, dedication, and compassion can be used to describe Chris Garber and Jimmy Omps for their years of contributions to the youth and sports of the Apple Blossom Region and beyond.   Their outstanding athletic careers, from participant to leader, have made a difference.  Sharen Gromling, president of the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® is truly honored to announce they will be inducted into the 4th Apple Blossom Sports Hall of Fame at the Partlow Insurance Sport Breakfast. The Breakfast will be held at the Tolley Dental Zone at James R. Wilkins Athletic & Events Center on the Shenandoah University campus, Saturday, May 4, at 8 a.m.
Chris Garber

Chris Garber graduated from Handley High School in 1975. Her amazing athletic career at Handley was highlighted by her winning the 1975 AA Girls State Tennis Championship. This made her Handley’s first female State Champion. After high school, she attended Radford College, majoring in Health and Physical Education, and starring at the #1 Player position on the Radford Tennis Team for three consecutive years. Post graduation, Chris received a master’s degree in Sports Education from Eastern Kentucky University, and a master’s degree in educational administration from Shenandoah University. She then spent 34 years in Education as a teacher and/or administrator. Simultaneously, she was a highly successful basketball and tennis coach. During her stellar career, she won a AA State Girls Basketball Championship at Radford High School, a AA State Girls Tennis Championship at Radford High School, and two AA State Girls Tennis Championships at Handley High School. 

Chris served as the first female Athletic Director in Rockingham County at Broadway High School, and as the first female Athletic Director in Frederick County at Millbrook High School. Chris was inducted into the John Handley Hunter Maddox Hall of Fame as a player (the first female to be so honored) and into the Radford High School Athletic Hall of Fame as a coach. Chris offers the following quote to summarize her success: “John Handley High School afforded me the opportunity to strive and to achieve my professional aspirations with great mentors in Jimmy Omps and Nikki Isherwood. Two other individuals that have been huge influences in my career were Norman Lineburg at Radford High School, and my brother, Chip Garber. I have been fortunate to be in the right place at the right time to have the opportunity to have coached some very talented high school athletes.”

Chris was the first female athlete inducted into the Hunter Maddex Hall of Fame. She was inducted into the Radford High School Athletic Hall of Fame as a coach.

James Omps

James Michael “Jimmy” Omps was born August 4th, 1935, in a farmhouse on the Kernstown Civil War Battlefield in Kernstown, Virginia, now a southern section of the City of Winchester. His education began at John Handley High School in Winchester, graduating from there with the Class of 1953. After high school, Jimmy graduated from Shepherd College in 1957 with a bachelor’s degree in physical education, graduated from the University of Virginia in 1969 with a master’s degree in Secondary Education, and, in 1989, he received his certification as a Certified Athletic Administrator from the NIAAA. Jimmy started his professional experience as a math teacher and a basketball and track coach at Martinsburg Junior High School from 1957-1959. In 1959, he began his long and storied association with his alma mater, John Handley High School, again teaching math and coaching basketball and track. In 1967, he became Handley’s Head Basketball Coach, Athletic Director, and Physical Education Instructor, and in 1986, he became Handley’s Director of Student Activities, a position he held until his retirement from the Winchester Public School system in 1995.
Some interesting odds and ends from the life of Jimmy Omps would include the fact that he set the John Handley long jump record in 1953 at 20′ 6-7/8″; the fact that he started as a Freshman on the Shepherd College basketball team and lettered all four years at Shepherd; the fact that he set the court record at the old National Guard Armory on Millwood Avenue in Winchester by scoring 68 points in a game on March 4th, 1954 (no 3-point shots in those days); and the fact that, from 1960 to 1966, he served as a medic with the Air National Guard in Martinsburg, West Virginia. Jimmy’s Official Bio lists 26 bullet points regarding the highlights of his career in Athletic Administration. These would include being a Member of the Virginia High School League Executive Committee, being a Charter Member of the Virginia State High School Athletic Directors Association and being a Charter Member of the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association. 

Jimmy’s Official Bio lists 33 bullet points regarding awards that he has won. These would include Who’s Who among Young Men of America in 1957; All-Area Coach of the Year 1967-68, 1968-69 and 1969-70; Virginia Athletic Director of the Year 1977-78; Ancil Gray Service Award for outstanding service to John Handley Athletics, 1976; and National High School Coaches Association Athletic Director of the Year for Region 2, 1980-81 and 1987-88.
The Hunter Maddex Gymnasium at John Handley High School became the Maddex-Omps Gymnasium in 2010 for the two remarkable coaches and athletic directors.  Coach Omps was the first person to be inducted into the Hunter Maddex Hall of Fame twice. He was inducted as a player in 1992 and as a coach in 2016.  Although he is still affectionately called “Jimmy” and even “J. O.” in casual conversation around the Winchester area, when his former students and athletes, to this day, are addressing him face-to-face, he is invariably addressed as “Mr. Omps.” This is, plainly and simply, what is called respect!    

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