A cheerleader, a tennis player, and a softball player walk into a hall of fame ...
In 2003, Girls Preparatory School established an Athletic Hall of Fame to honor select alumnae athletes and coaches for their outstanding accomplishments and contributions to the GPS athletic program. During the recent Alumnae Weekend at GPS, three former students were inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame: Michal Howick ’03, Cheer; Claire Bartlett ’08, Tennis; and Kamri Chester Busby ’08, Softball.
Michal Howick was a member of Coed Varsity Blue Crew all four years of Upper School at GPS, cheering for McCallie Varsity Football and GPS and McCallie Varsity Basketball. She was a four-time All-American Cheerleader and the first recipient of the Headmaster’s Award for Elite Athletic Performance, presented at Commencement to a senior who has reached the highest level of athletic achievement in her chosen sport and used her abilities to elevate her team, teammates, and school. She was also on an All-Star competitive team, cheering in national competitions from eighth through 12th grades.
“I knew Michal was special from the first time I saw her as a 10-year-old watching her sister’s practice,” says Terri Tucker, former GPS Head Varsity Cheer Coach. “Anyone lucky enough to have watched Michal cheer got to experience poetry in motion.Her unbridled energy, joy, and ability to defy gravity captivated and excited an entire stadium full of people. She is truly gifted with an exceptional talent for gymnastics, tumbling, and flying skills. But what made her the athlete and person that every coach dreams of coaching was that her talent was surpassed only by her drive, passion, fierce determination, and spirit.”
Howick cheered at University of Tennessee, Knoxville, earning one of the coveted starter spots on the varsity squad. In 2008, she received a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from UTK. A year later, she returned to GPS as head coach of the Baby Blue Crew (Middle School squad) and All-Girls Varsity Blue Crew and assistant coach to her GPS coach, Terri Tucker. Upon Tucker’s retirement in 2013, Howick was named Director of Cheerleading and Head Coach of the two varsity squads, Coed Varsity and All-Girls Varsity, and continues to grow the program established by Tucker, having added 10 cheerleaders from GPS and McCallie to the list of more than 40 who have gone on to cheer at the university level. She also works as the Associate Director of Communications and Marketing at GPS and has a passion for girls’ education and coaching.
Claire Bartlett comes from a family of teaching professionals, including parents Sue and Billy Bartlett, who coach at GPS, and late grandfather Tommy Bartlett. In high school, she played tennis for GPS and led the Bruisers to three TSSAA state team titles, capturing three TSSAA state individual titles.
“From the time she was nine and hunted autographs at Wimbledon, Claire has always wanted to be a professional tennis player,” says Sue Bartlett, GPS Head Varsity Tennis Coach and Claire’s mom. “Fortunately for GPS, we were on her pathway. Her discipline and drive pushed others at GPs and in our community. I think Claire was just born competitive.”
While playing for the University of Florida from 2009 to 2012, her team won both SEC and NCAA championships in 2010 and 2011. She also received a tennis scholarship and played for the University of Virginia her freshman year, transferring to the University of Florida to complete her college career as a Gator. Bartlett received her Bachelor of Arts in English from Florida. In 2013, she obtained her master's degree in kinesiology with a focus in sport psychology and motor behavior from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Bartlett has taught tennis at Knoxville Racquet Club and the Racquet Club of Memphis. While teaching tennis at GPS, she created the 20&UP Tennis League, a young adult social tennis league for players of all ability levels. She also established a sport psychology consulting business, Empower Sport and Performance Enhancement. She currently works for USTA Southern as the Tennis Service Representative for Tennessee, where she meets with facilities, directors, parks and recreation departments, and schools to grow tennis throughout the state of Tennessee. She has a passion for community and bringing people together through tennis and shared values.
While as a student at GPS, Kamri Chester Busby was a multi-sport athlete, competing in several varsity sports ranging from basketball, softball, and volleyball. In softball, Busby contributed to two softball state championship wins her junior and senior years. She was named to the 2006, 2007, and 2008 all-state and all-region teams. She was a three-time all-city selection and a 2005 honorable mention all-state selectee. Her career ended with a .397 batting average, tallying 25 home runs, 33 doubles, 131 RBIs, 40 stolen bases, seven triples and 121 runs scored.
“Kamri’s athletic skills were great, but her ability to be a great teammate, friend, and leader far surpassed everything else,” says Susan Crownover, GPS Head Varsity Softball Coach and PE teacher. “Players like Kamri, who possess these great qualities, are definitely the kids you want on your team and in the game when the lights come on and the scoreboard begins to count.”
In addition to softball, Busby was a small forward in basketball and a setter in volleyball, playing on the volleyball state championship team in 2007. After graduating from GPS, Busby went on to play college softball for the Memphis Tigers at the University of Memphis. In 2010, she was named Scholar Athlete by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association. In 2011, she participated in the first Tiger’s regional victory over UTC. Busby holds the second-highest career in stolen base percentage at the University of Memphis.
“Rare gems like Kamri only come along every so often,” Crownover adds, “and I count myself a lucky coach who can now call her my friend.” Currently, Busby resides in Chattanooga with her husband, Andre, and daughter, Londyn. She is a registered nurse at Erlanger East in the ICU.