Of all the memories Tasha Humphrey made playing basketball for Gainesville High, nothing stands out quite like the 2004 state championship.
It was the last game Humphrey would play for the Red Elephants, and she scored 29 points in a 61-33 rout of Fannin County. And while the contest was not necessarily the most hotly contested of Humphrey’s career, the game provided an opportunity for reflection and introspection amongst the 2004 Red Elephants.
“It was bittersweet because it was over,” Humphrey said. “But it was sweet because of the memories and what we did there in our time at Gainesville and the legacy that we left there.”
Humphrey’s legacy as a three-time state champion with the Red Elephants was impactful enough for her to be a part of the inaugural Gainesville Athletic Hall of Fame class, which will be inducted on Saturday in a ceremony at Scott’s Downtown. Humphrey is one of six players given the nod, along with legendary Gainesville football coach Bobby Gruhn.
The 1956-57 Fair Street High football team, which won back-to-back state championships, will be the first team honored for its accomplishments before schools were integrated.
Yet among all those Gainesville legends, Humphrey’s career stands out as one of the most impressive in the history of the Red Elephants.
Humphrey averaged more than 20 points per game all four years she played at Gainesville. She was named Gatorade Georgia Player of the Year in 2003 and 2004 and Miss Georgia Basketball in 2001, 2003 and 2004.
As a team, the Humphrey-led Lady Red Elephants won state titles in 2001, 2003 and 2004, a gaudy accomplishment; although Humphrey believes they could have done better.
“Our goal was to win four in a row,” she said. “But three out of four isn’t bad.”
Humphrey’s expectations of success weren’t unusual for a Gainesville program. They were the standard.
She attended Gainesville during an era of extreme athletic success, with several teams playing for and winning state championships, although no squad rivaled the dominance of the Lady Red Elephants girls basketball team. In her four years at the school, Humphrey’s teams compiled a 114-15 record — two of those losses coming when she was out of action due to injury.
As they continued to win, the community rallied around Humphrey and her teammates, creating an environment that she said brought out the best in everyone.
“It wasn’t just basketball winning at the time,” she said. “Everybody was successful. Everybody was competitive. I think athletics and music have the ability to bring communities together like no other, and to be a part of that athletic side and actually see and live and feel that is something that I’ll always cherish for the rest of my life.”
Humphrey would go on to have a wildly successful career at the University of Georgia, finishing as the second-leading scorer in program history. She was taken by the Detroit Shock with the 11th overall pick in the 2008 WNBA draft, and spent time with the Shock, the Washington Mystics and the Minnesota Lynx.
But playing on a big stage was nothing new for Humphrey, who said the high profile games she competed in at Gainesville set her up for later success.
“It was so competitive (at Gainesville),” Humphrey said. “Later on in life, I was used to it, the competition, playing at a high level, playing in front of big crowds.”
Looking back on an athletic track record of winning and statistical accomplishments, Humphrey said it all started at Gainesville.
“What I did and what our teams did at Gainesville was special to me,” she said. “It was a big part of my life and a very memorable part of my life, and just knowing that I’m being recognized by the community, the board, and so many people that impacted my life growing up in Gainesville, it’s just indescribable.”