Last updated: July 17. 2013 1:38PM - 896 Views
Rachel Baldwin
Williamson Daily News

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RED JACKET – If you say the name of Joplin in the Tug Valley area, you immediately think of sports – especially basketball at the old Matewan High School gymnasium.

The Joplin family grew up in Little Italy Camp in Red Jacket. Starting back in 1964 to the present day at the new Mingo Central High School, there has been close to 20 members of that clan who played sports in the area.

The first one to star was Pleasant Joplin, who graduated back in 1964 from Matewan High School. He was a standout basketball player and was offered several Division One scholarships.

During the early to mid-1960’s, the Joplin’s were coached by former Matewan coaches Jim Melmige and Jim Keatley.

Three years later in 1967, Butch Joplin graduated and played for the Tigers.

Butch later became a coach and is still on the sidelines as an assistant for Mingo Central. Butch had a couple of successful stints at Phelps as a head coach, he was an assistant at Pikeville High School and Pikeville College and most recently was head coach at Burch before the consolidation.

One of the best known shooters to ever hit the basketball court in the area was Raymond Joplin, who played alongside his brothers Butch and Ronald.

Raymond was one of the area’s leading scorers. All four of the brothers were standouts on the hardwood. They started playing at the old Red Jacket Junior High School for coach Joe Clusky, where they won a couple of Mingo County tournaments in the early 1960s.

Eventually their offspring began to play at Matewan. Donna Joplin was an all-state basketball player for Gaynell Varney and graduated back in 1984. Sharon Joplin also played during this era, which was some of the most successful girls teams in the history of the Lady Tigers.

In the 1990s Rodney was a star on the football field for coach Yogi Kinder. His cousin J.I. Joplin played at Pikeville High School and was a standout on both the basketball court and football field.

Deidre Joplin was a basketball player for MHS and graduated in 1997. Also around this time in the late 1990s, Natasha and Ronnie suited up for the green and white at Matewan.

In 2001, Raymond II graduated. He played both basketball and football during his time at Matewan.

Calvin Joplin, who graduated in 2002, still holds many of the rushing records for the Tigers. He played three sports, including football, basketball and baseball. Calvin went on to play at Pikeville College.

Sherita Joplin was a standout at Belfry High School and went on to play at Morehead State. Her sister Rosalyn was a star on the hardwood for Williamson High School in the early 2000s.

Currently Deonte Joplin is a freshman at Mingo Central where he played football, basketball and is now running track. Big things are expected of him next year on the grid iron. Another granddaughter, Daisa, played volleyball for the Lady Miners and also cheered.

Tyshira played for Williamson Middle School and helped lead the Lady Cubpack to a fine season. She will likely be playing basketball at Mingo Central High School in the next few seasons.

(Kyle Lovern is the sports editor for the Williamson Daily News. Comments or story ideas can be sent to or klovern@civtasmedia.com)

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