By David Fong
TROY — Julia (Reel) Niles was a pioneer … she just didn’t realize it at the time.
In the winter of 1992, Niles was roughly midway through her senior season as a basketball player at Troy High School and closing in on 1,000 career points, a mark no other basketball player — boy or girl — had ever reached in school history.
All of which was an absolute mystery to her.
“I’ll be honest with you — I wasn’t real in tune with that until someone mentioned it to me,” Niles said. “I think maybe two games prior to me scoring my 1,000th point, it was brought to someone’s attention and they told me. I was probably at about 950 points, somewhere in that range. That was the first I had heard of it.”
Several games later, Niles went into a game against Greenville sitting on 999 points. Several fans had brought signs to the game with the numbers “1,002” and “1,001” emblazoned upon them, assuming Reel — a shooting specialist — would nail either a 3-pointer or a jump shot to reach the milestone.
As things would turn out, most of those signs were wrong, as Niles hit a free throw early in the game to reach a mark no player in school history had ever reached before her.
Niles — who still holds a number of girls basketball records at Troy — will be honored Aug. 26 and 27 as a member of the Trojan Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2016. She’ll be joined in this year’s class by Harold “Corky” Valentine (class of 1948, baseball and football), Kees Scarff (class of 1963, football, baseball and basketball), Mark Elliott (class of 1968, baseball) and Holly Rhoades Saylor (class of 1987, soccer, basketball and softball).
This year’s class will be honored prior to the Troy football team’s Aug. 26 home opener against Trotwood-Madison, then again at an Aug. 27 banquet to take place at the Crystal Room in Troy.
“It feels great,” Niles said of being inducted into the Trojan Athletic Hall of Fame. “Honestly, it’s kind of a surprise or shock that I still hold as many records as I do after 24 years.”
Although four former boys basketball players at Troy — Brooks Hall, Michael Hall, Matt Terwilliger and Shane Carter — have since joined Niles in the 1,000-point club, she remains the only player in Troy girls history to hit that milestone, finishing her career with 1,128 points. She also holds the top-two single-season scoring marks in school history with 404 points (1992) and 399 points (1991). She also holds four of the top seven single-game scoring records in school history.
Niles — who started on varsity all four years at Troy — was named All-Greater Miami Valley Conference honorable mention as a freshman and sophomore, then was the GMVC Player of the Year as both a junior and senior. She was and All-Southwest District pick as a junior and senior and earned All-Ohio honors her senior year.
For all of those accolades, however, she’s probably best remembered for being the first 1,000-point scorer in school history. Following her reaching that mark, she became a celebrity around town, frequently being asked for her autograph after games.
Again, all of which came as a surprise to her.
“It was just awesome,” Niles said of the fanfare that immediately followed her accomplishment. “It didn’t even register with me; I did not know that reaching 1,000 points was a big deal. I knew it was a lot of points, but I didn’t know it was a celebrated thing. I couldn’t believe I was the first. A lot of people really supported me. It was great — those were some of the best years of my life.”
Niles would earn a basketball scholarship to Indiana Wesleyan University. Following college, she became a school teacher and coached basketball at Cincinnati Woodward High School and Trotwood-Madison Middle School. Currently, Niles works in pharmaceutical sales. She lives in Troy with her husband Ian and the two daughters, Landry (age 8) and Leighton (age 5).
Contact David Fong at [email protected]; follow him on Twitter @thefong