Tag Archives: Athlete Next Door


The Athlete Next Door | September 2017

screen-shot-2017-08-28-at-6-56-58-pm screen-shot-2017-08-28-at-6-46-04-pmAre you the Athlete Next Door?


Do you know an athlete or someone who is living a fit life or trying to? Tell us: Who is the next Athlete Next Door by emailing extol@extolmag.com.


Tough Stuff

Tucker’s co-owner Dee Kestner shares how she stays fit and fierce

By Angie Fenton | Photos by Tony Bennet

Deane “Dee” Kestner  is no stranger to the world of sports.

She and her partner in business and life, Trey Myers, own Tucker’s American Favorites, a popular sports restaurant/bar located at 2441 State Street in New Albany, which is frequented by regulars, families and in- and out-of-towners seeking good eats and great viewing of televised matches and games.

and2But as Dee hustles and bustles around her venue, it’s hard not to notice the diminutive 42-year-old packs more than a ready smile and commitment to do her customers right: Watch her carry a tray of food to a table, and you’ll peep a fit femme who clearly takes her health seriously. Recently, Dee competed in the figure division of the NPC Derby Festival Championships, a bodybuilding competition produced by Brent Smith of Kentucky Muscle.

“This was the fifth show I’ve done,” she said.

And her hard work paid off.

Dee was awarded third place in her class and was awarded sixth place in another category.

“I got a sword” – the prize for top finishers – “which was pretty cool,” she admitted.

Dee and Trey, her significant other for what will be 20 years in August, “live together, work together and train together.”

In fact, she added, “Trey is my coach and my trainer.”

Although she’d made a commitment to being fit years ago, it wasn’t until she started working out with Rob Conway (of WWE fame) and hired Stavan Bhatt to direct her nutrition that Dee realized she might be able to take her fit lifestyle to the bodybuilding stage.

“My first show was the (NPC) Tricky Jackson Classic. I got third in open in masters,” she said.

Then, she placed third in the figure divisions of the 2013 Kentucky Muscle Championships.

“I never thought that I was going to place. I just wanted to go in and do it, and look like I belonged.”

Dee did. And then some.


“I thought it’d be fun to do the suit, the makeup, the hair, the eyelashes. I liked the training, and I’m also a very goal-oriented person,” she explained about why she took her fitness off the floor and on stage. “If I have a goal to work for … it keeps me more accountable.”

After this year’s successful foray back into figure competitions – she’s competed every year since 2013 but took 2016 off – Dee isn’t sure when she’ll step back on stage. “I want to address some of the things (the judges) told me to work on, and then will probably pick out a show.”

As co-owner of a sports restaurant/bar that is known for its hot wings, meaty ribs and cold beers, Dee often fields questions from people who want to know how she’s able to maintain her figure to, well, compete in a figure competition.

“I probably eat four meals (at Tucker’s) every day,” she said, though the competitor eschews the (delicious!) queso and fried products for grilled chicken and shrimp, the salmon or salmon burger, sirloin and bison burger (sans bun), with a side of sweet potato and/or steamed broccoli or green beans, all of which are on the menu. “I also use vinegars for my salad dressings,” she said.

And, Dee relies on Trey, her partner in nearly every aspect of her life. “The majority of time, we’re together – at work, at home and in the gym. He’s my best friend. … We really don’t know any different.”


How does Deane “Dee” Kestner maintain her athletic figure and health? We asked, and she answered.

• “I go to Katy Hearn Gym, 310 Mount Tabor Road in New Albany, five times a week. It’s a very positive atmosphere. It’s really good to be around people like that.”

• “I have rheumatoid arthritis and was diagnosed at 19, but they think I had it before then.” In addition to being on medication, Dee said, “I stay away from inflammatory foods: peanuts, certain starches. Stavan Bhatt taught me how to eat. … My rheumatologist thinks I am doing so well because of how I eat and how active I am plus the medication.”

• “I think anybody can (get fit). You just have to decide you want to do it. You have to be motivated.”

• “I eat 4 oz. of protein with every meal –whether it’s chicken, fish or beef – a cup of veggies and 4 oz. of sweet potatoes on certain days.”


Living Legend Letty Walter Has Left Her Mark in Myriad Ways

Letitia “Letty” Walter is a legend in Southern Indiana and for good reason.

By Josh Suiter | Photo by David Harrison

From educating chiLdren, to starting sports programs for girls and women in our area and even being a public servant, Letitia “Letty” Walter has left her mark on the Southern Indiana community.

Walter, who launched the BPW Hoosiers, a women’s softball team from New Albany, has made it her goal to empower children and adults.

The BPW Hoosiers, who were sponsored by Business and Professional Women, went to seven world tournaments in slow pitch. They traveled all over the country. “My girls were good. Theyand2 represented Louisville in those tournaments. They won the championship in Louisville like seven years, and people couldn’t understand when they would announce us and they would say ‘Representing the Great Commonwealth of Kentucky, the City of Louisville – the BPW Hoosiers.’ “

Walter started the team in the 1950s and retired as their coach in the 70s. “I had three teams: the Big Hoosiers, Middle Hoosiers and the Baby Hoosiers. It was kind of like a farm system to go through. We groomed them. They were mostly kids that I met with on playgrounds in New Albany.”

Walter said the girls, as she called them, wanted something to do and “it was good for me because I had my pick of the crop.”

Walter got the team started while she worked for the New Albany Floyd County Parks Department. “I was a teacher during the winter time, and in the summer I was blessed to be hired by Mr. Sam Peden and worked with the New Albany Floyd County Parks system.”

Peden let her create the softball team.

“They also let me organize girls activities. We were before Title IX and there was nothing for girls to do. That is why I was lucky when I did get my softball program going. … The girls did very well. We still meet and I still call them girls, even though they are all grandmothers,” she quipped.

Walter even got drafted by the boys’ coach one night to play on their team. “One night they were short a player and they drafted me. That was my first and last time playing baseball because when I got up to bat, they threw a curve ball at me and I thought I would die. It is a lot different from baseball and slow pitch. The only reason I did it was (the coach) made good peach ice cream and after the game we all got homemade peach ice cream,” she added.

Walter worked for a few years in Louisville for the Louisville Parks Department as a play leader in Central Park before coming to New Albany.

Although she eventually became a teacher, it wasn’t what she thought she would do. She had planned to be a dental technician, but one of her teachers, Sister Ellen Patrick, intervened and sent in an application for her to attend Nazareth College and study education. “She knew me better than I did,” said Walter. “(My career) would have been a technical career, but thanks to Sister Ellen Patrick, I did what she said.”

Walter taught second and fourth grades for 36 years before retiring in 1993 from St. Mary of the Knobs.

“When I first got to St. Mary’s of Knobs, I coached the boys’ basketball. It was a bunch of nuns and lay teachers. Then, we got some male teachers and I just coached the girls in volleyball, basketball, kickball, softball and track.”

Walter said Bob Holmes, who was superintendent of New Albany Floyd County Schools then, let her start athletics for girls “because we didn’t have it. I started basketball, volleyball and track for elementary school. I had 15 elementary schools to oversee and, of course, finding a coach for girls wasn’t easy.”

Many women “didn’t play ball and didn’t know how to coach, but they tried.” Walter also assisted with the annual Chicago trip. “Oh my gosh, what a great a trip. We stayed at The Palmer House and went to museums. It was wonderful for the kids.”

During one particular experience, a boy got separated from the group. “We took the kids for a ride on the elevated train. The car trains were fascinating because the car doors open and closed so quickly. We would get to platform and people would get off and on. We had one little boy who just couldn’t believe it, and when the door opened, he stepped out onto the platform and the door closed and the train took off, and there he was all by himself on the platform. Thankfully, all of our kids wore badges that said, ‘New Albany Floyd County Schools Education System,’ and there was a policeman, and the policeman saw what happened and took the child to the police station. Then they took him to Palmer House safe and sound. “Those kind of memories you don’t want to live through. I always said my biggest mistake was not writing a book about some of the things that happened and some of the people (I have met),” she said.

Walter is a graduate of Presentation Academy and the old Nazareth College (now Spalding University), and has an elementary education degree from there, as well as a master’s degree from Indiana University. “I am still very close to Presentation Academy. In fact, I am still on the alumni board and go to meetings and support them in any way I can.”

Walter, a lifelong member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in New Albany, said she is a reader in her church, as well as a greeter and on the bereavement committee. She’s also in the Altar Society, which plans the Spring Fling and the church’s annual yard sale.

Clearly, Walter also believes in giving back to her community. She has served on the Horseshoe Foundation Board, served on the Floyd County Council for one term and as a New Albany city councilwoman for three terms.

She also is a Democratic precinct committee person. “We still get together to elect the head of the party and the officers, and if you have to fill a seat, we chose who that will be,” she said.

Walter served on the Floyd County Head Start Board when it first got going and serves on the board for the Senior Games. She has also served on the on the animal shelter Board. “I have met a lot of nice people with all the stuff I am involved in. You don’t get bored,” she said.

After she retired, she took the training to be a dealer at Horseshoe Southern Indiana. “I took the training for four months. I dealt for six weeks before the smoke about killed me, and I had to quit. I loved it,” she recalled.

Walter also worked for about six weeks at UPS right before Christmas. “I was in International Small Sort because I knew geography and that was an experience working with those kids at UPS. You had to have steel-toed shoes. I had the midnight to 4 a.m. shift, so I used to go to Waffle House for breakfast on the way home. I was bored. I discovered I better concentrate on taking care of my house and learning how to cook, which I haven’t done too well.”

When she is not giving of her time, Walter loves to play golf. “Golf is one of those sports for a lifetime. The kids can play and so can grandma. You can go on nice vacations and play. That is what occupies my time now. I am just anxiously waiting for it to get warm enough so I can play.”

Her work in the county has also led to a park in Floyds Knobs to be named after her, Letty Walter Park, which is down the road from St. Mary of the Knobs school. “I couldn’t believe when the park board did that. I was still teaching and one of the kids went home and said, ‘Mommy, mommy! Guess what? They named a park after Mrs. Walter and she ain’t even dead yet.’ ”

While still teaching, Walter would take her students to the park. “They would wade in the creek and look for critters, and I would worry about them falling in and drowning. They would play on swings,” she recalled. Walter still enjoys visiting the park. “I get out there a lot and I sit and look at it. I just can’t believe it is there and a lot of people take their kiddos there to play.

The park, plus the naming of my niece after me, are the two greatest honors I have ever received,” she said. Walter lives her life by two quotes. The first she saw in Presentation when she walked into her classroom: “Love God, and then do what you want.”

After seeing that, “I thought, boy, I am going to like this place. Then as I went through my training at Pres, I caught on to the meaning of the quote. Because if you love God, you will do what God wants.” The second is a quote by Cardinal Ritter: “Work hard, pray hard, don’t worry.”

“That is a good quote to live by,” Walter said.


What Makes Suzanne Run?

It’s pretty simple. The 59-year-old local news radio anchor just likes to run faster than everyone else.

By Steve Kaufman | Photos By David Harrison

If you’re driving around Louisville on a nice weekend day, chances are, somewhere on your drive, you’re going to spot Suzanne Duvall.

It might be in St. Matthews or Indian Hills or River Road or Old Louisville or somewhere in the Highlands. Those are all points along the radio anchor’s 20-mile sr1training run, every Saturday or Sunday.

She’s training for yet another marathon, and her regimen also includes a daily four-, five or six-mile run. And then a day of cross-training at Planet Fitness.

On Fridays, she rests. “I have to have a rest day,” said the just-turned-59-year-old. “And the older you are, the more important rest days are.”

That makes sense. However, “I hate rest days!” she said. “I get antsy, even though I know it’s good for me.”

Why do people run? In Duvall’s case, it began as a stress-reliever. She was a single parent of two young boys, balancing her home responsibilities with a burgeoning radio career in Nashville. Jogging made her feel good.

Then, one day, jogging – and fitness – were replaced by running – and competing.

“I was running along my usual suburban jogging route in Nashville,” she recalled, “and a woman my age came along beside me and we started chatting. She was a trainer for Team in Training, which recruits and prepares runners on behalf of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. She said I looked like a natural runner. That was a great compliment. I was hooked.”

She started training in the spring of 2003, and ran her first half-marathon (13.1 miles) in Memphis that December. Her time was 2 hours, 13 minutes.

“I was just proud of myself for finishing. I could do this.”

In February 2004, she ran her first marathon, in Birmingham, and finished in just under five hours. “I was still just trying to complete the race.”

sr2Since then, she has completed 26 marathons and 15 half-marathons. She has run the half in an hour and 44 minutes, the full in 3:56. And she has qualified six times for the Holy Grail – the Boston Marathon.

Finishing is fine. But now she runs to win.

“The faster I ran, the more competitive I got, and the faster I ran,” Duvall said. She entered all sorts of races – 5K, 10K, 10 miles. “I just loved winning.” Sometimes, though, just finishing can feel pretty good, too. “This past December, in Huntsville, Ala., I fell apart in the last few miles. My legs got really mad at me, and I lost energy. I rarely hit the wall, but I did this time. The last few miles of a marathon are horrific if you’ve lost energy. It’s like a death march. You’re thinking, ‘Please let this be over!’”

Another time, in Columbus, Ohio, in 2009, she fell. “I was running along, doing just fine, feeling very energetic, and then – at Mile 15 – I fell hard on my knee. I got up, hobbled to the side, saw I was bleeding but I also saw nothing was broken.”

Duvall said the aid workers offered to drive her back. “But nothing was broken, so I said I was going on.”

She said you can see blood running down her leg and into her sock on the picture snapped at the finish. “I finished, and then I collapsed. Only then did my knee begin to hurt.”

But she finished at four hours, which qualified her for Boston. “The proudest, most incredible moment.”

Qualifying for Boston means running at least one marathon a year in roughly four hours. It depends on your age group and also on where your best time stacks up against other runners’ best times.

“There are so many more runners qualifying now that they’ve imposed a quota,” she said. “So the qualifying time might be four hours, but now you have to be two or three or four minutes below four hours. And when they fill their quota in your age group, the door slams shut.”

In Huntsville, one year, she missed the qualifying time by just two seconds. “It’s absolute!”

Duvall qualified for Boston after running her sixth marathon. In her third, in Nashville, she missed it by just 90 seconds.

“I finally qualified in Columbus in 2006 with a 3:58,” she recalled. “When I finished, and I knew I’d qualified, I burst into tears.”

She ran Boston in 2008. “It’s expensive to run Boston, but it’s an incredible experience. You’re running with people who are really good runners. Everyone is serious, everyone is fast. You feel honored to be in their company. And the crowd support is incredible.”

Duvall moved to Louisville in 2007, when she joined News Radio 840 WHAS as a reporter. (She’s now the afternoon news anchor.) She began training in Cherokee Park by powering up the hills and admits to being so competitive that if she sees other runners in the park, she’ll determine to beat them up the hill – “especially if they’re younger than I am.”

“Now that I’m 59, I’m slowing down and I hate that,” she acknowledged. “I haven’t been able to do a four-hour marathon in a few years. “I understand how it goes, I just don’t like it much.”

She runs with her husband, Steve. “We’ve run Huntsville and Nashville together, and he’ll run the Derby mini this spring.” Does it breed domestic competitiveness?

“No. He knows I’m faster.”

Duvall has signed up for five marathons this year: the Biltmore Marathon in Asheville, N.C., in March; the Mohican 100 in Loudonville, Ohio, in June; the Monument Marathon in Indianapolis in November; the Rocket City Marathon in Huntsville in December; and, of course, the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon in Louisville in April.

She also does the Louisville Triple Crown of Running every March and April: the Anthem 5K Fitness Classic, Rodes City Run 10K and the Papa John’s 10 Miler.

“I’ve won a few of those in my age group,” she said. “Last year, I won Papa John’s five weeks after having an appendectomy.”

Suzanne Duvall at the finish of the Horse Capital Marathon, May 21st of 2016. “It was actually a really slow marathon for me – even though I got first in my age group (there were only five women in my age group!) –  because it was just three weeks after the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon in which I ran a lot faster,” she said. “But the Horse Capital Marathon is gorgeous, in horse country in Fayette County, begins and ends at Fasig/Tipton in Lexington, and goes by dozens of opulent, picturesque horse farms.”