Former Lawrence High coach Joan Wells celebrated Independence Day in a special way.
Wells was inducted into the National Federation of State High School Associations' (NFHS) National High School Hall of Fame on July 4 as part of a group of 12 sportswriters, referees, coaches and athletes, which included former Oakland Athletics catcher Terry Steinbach and Oakland Raiders quarterback Jim Plunkett.
"I am extremely proud of this award," Wells said. "It's just a tremendous honor, and I was just so happy to represent my state and my community. It was just the ultimate."
Wells made her name with the LHS volleyball team, compiling a record of 865-89 during her 27 years as head coach. She also coached softball for 16 years, helping the Lions to their only state championship in that sport in 1977. In addition, Wells served as a basketball coach, intramural director and assistant cheerleading sponsor and chairman of the physical education department for Lawrence High.
The NFHS honor represented another distinction of her noteworthy career. She previously earned four national awards, which required a nomination and selection process.
Wells received her most recent commendation as part of a black-tie ceremony at the Desert Springs Marriott in Palm Desert, Calif., which included dinner and a video montage of her career. Wells sat at Steinbach's table.
"It was just a very, very special occasion," she said.
Wells is part of the Hall of Fame's 25th class, and its 338 members include Jesse Owens, Oscar Robertson, Arnold Palmer, Paul Hornung, Earl Campbell and Larry Bird.
Since retiring from teaching in 2003, Wells keeps tabs on LHS, attending occasional football and volleyball games. She mostly occupies herself by golfing, gardening and working out.
"Now I'm doing all the things I never had time for," Wells said.