A common element became apparent when I researched the best athletes in the Gateway area for our “Decades” book in 2013. There, among the several Clinton Herald articles displayed in the microfilm, was George’s Sports Gourmet.
It wasn’t an ode to local eateries around town. Instead, it was a smorgasbord of recent sports activity happening in the area and beyond.
I’m reminiscing about those gourmets this week because the writer of those columns, former Clinton Herald Sports Editor George Kampling, died on Christmas Eve at The Alverno. He was 87.
When I came to work at the Herald in 2008, Kampling was still working inside the building as a part-time writer. He did a little news writing, along with covering some games. He even brought back his gourmets for a short period in 2011.
But his contributions to not only this newspaper, but to the community, came in one of the best times to be a sports fan in the Gateway area — the 1970s and 1980s. He managed the sports section from 1970 until 1995, overseeing a product that routinely let residents know about the many accomplishments happening on the sports scene.
It seemed like every school had success. St. Mary’s dominated the 1970s in boys basketball, and then as Mater Dei, won three straight state volleyball titles in the 1980s.
Fulton won a state football title in 1976, and won again in 1991. The Fulton boys basketball team was always good during that time period, especially in the 1972-73 season when they went to the state tournament.
Camanche racked up the hardware in the 1980s. The Indians won the state baseball title in 1987, and earned girls state track titles in 1986-87. The boys tennis team dominated, with six titles in the 1980s. Camanche also finished second in the state basketball tournament in 1985 and the state volleyball tournament in 1986.
But the main dominance during that era was Clinton. Clinton High School had plenty to cheer about in the pre-1980s, but during the 1980s, Clinton was among the best in the entire state in several sports.
Girls and boys golf, gymnastics, boys cross country and wrestling all earned titles in the 1980s, with the cross country team garnering four championships and the gymnastics team earning five titles.
The Clinton volleyball team also was among the state’s best, finishing runner-up in 1982, and the boys basketball team competed at the state tournament in the decade.
Kampling had a front-row seat to all that greatness, chronicling likely the best decade in area sports history. And even that decade likely didn’t live up to the “92 Crew” winning Clinton’s one and only state basketball title in 1992.
During the time I knew Kampling, he was a person who enjoyed the statistics of sports, along with the history of it, too. Being Sports Editor at the Clinton Herald is not one that changes hands often. Since 1970, Kampling is one of only four people who have held that position.
Likely his best legacy is offering an opportunity for the community to read about these student-athletes during that time period, while also preserving a history of those achievements.
That’s the goal of any journalist and Kampling was able to be one of the best at highlighting the achievements of local residents. The Clinton Herald is appreciative of all the work Kampling provided during his time with the newspaper and know that his insights will live on for generations to come.
Scott Levine is the associate editor at the Clinton Herald. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and @ScottLevineCH on Twitter.