- August 26, 2020
Three former students and one longtime supporter were honored Jan. 24 by The First Academy as they were inducted into the school’s athletic Hall of Fame.
At halftime of the boys varsity basketball game against Lake Highland Prep, Katherine Clevenger, Foster Griffin, Adam Haseley and the late Tim DeBoom were recognized for their contributions to the school and its athletic department in front of a sold-out crowd in the Cramer Family Field House.
“Obviously it’s a really great honor,” said Haseley, a 2014 graduate who now plays for the Philadelphia Phillies. “This is kind of where it all started, so to come back here to have my now wife and my family that was here — kind of bring it all full circle — is pretty special.”
Haseley’s accomplishments on the baseball diamond at TFA — as well as his play at the University of Virginia and for the Phillies — made him a first-ballot Hall of Famer, said school athletic director Will Cohen. One requirement at TFA is an athlete must be five years removed from his or her time at the school. They also need to be voted on by a committee of faculty at the school.
During his three-year stint at Virginia, Haseley racked up honor after honor and helped lead the Cavaliers to the 2015 NCAA national championship before being taken eighth overall by the Phillies.
Joining Haseley as a first-ballot athlete was Foster Griffin, who was both a baseball and golf standout at the school. Griffin — who couldn’t attend due to work obligations — was a First Team All-American (like Haseley) before getting drafted by the Kansas City Royals with the 28th pick. He was represented by his family during the event.
Rounding out the athletes was the track program’s first state champion: Katherine Clevenger.
“Obviously it’s a really great honor. This is kind of where it all started, so to come back here to have my now wife and my family that was here — kind of bring it all full circle — is pretty special.”
— Adam Haseley (2014)
“I was surprised and incredibly honored — obviously — to be included in a very awarded cohort,” said Clevenger, who won the 300m hurdles state title at the school. “It’s been over 20 years since I first started running with The First Academy. (It’s great) coming back and seeing how everything has grown up and so many more champions have come through the program since I’ve been gone.”
Clevenger, who now lives in Atlanta, hadn’t been back to the school in years but recalled her time on both the cross-country and track teams and how everything was a bit simpler during those early days — especially as it related to facilities.
“It’s funny looking at the complex now — the Payne Stewart Complex,” Clevenger said. “That whole complex was developed in 2001-02, which was when I was running track — those were big days for our programs.
“But you know the way out there was mud,” she said. “Cross country would run around John Young (Parkway), and we were just all trying to figure it out — it was fun. At the track, it wasn’t even surfaced yet, and we didn’t have hurdles so we literally jumped (over) orange cones.”
While each new member walked to center court to a raucous round of applause, no ovation was bigger than the one Lisa DeBoom and her children received when they accepted the honor on behalf of the late Tim DeBoom.
The DeBoom family has been a part of TFA for years, with Lisa DeBoom serving as a librarian at the school, while her two daughters attend as students. Then there was Tim DeBoom — the embodiment of TFA spirit.
Tim DeBoom served at the school as a coach, colleague and supporter of TFA athletics for 14 years until he died in February 2018 after a battle with cancer.
“It really means a lot to my girls and me,” Lisa DeBoom said. “Losing him, one of the things that you worry about is that time will pass and life will go on and people will forget, and so for the school to reach out and honor him in this way, and honor his memory, it really means a lot to the three of us.”
No one ever was going to let the memory of Tim DeBoom slip away, Cohen said. That’s why — despite the fact that Tim DeBoom hadn’t hit the required five-year mark — he was elected into the Hall of Fame anyway as a friend of the program.
“He was a huge fan when he wasn’t coaching and just did so much for the athletic program,” Cohen said. “It’s fitting that he goes in with this group. It’s one of the best classes that we have ever had — they represent who TFA is.”