Lyles named 25th recipient of Storts Memorial Scholarship

Michael Smith
Ethan Lyles is the 2020 recipient of the Chris Storts Memorial Scholarship.

Chris Storts, a 1977 graduate of Ardmore High School, was only 30 years old when he died unexpectedly in the summer of 1990. Less than 10 years later, family and friends helped establish the Chris Storts Memorial Scholarship to keep the former Tiger’s legacy alive.

Each year for more than two decades, the scholarship has been awarded to an Ardmore Tiger football player who shares the same characteristics displayed by Storts. Senior Ethan Lyles has become the scholarship’s 25th recipient, according to a statement from the Chris Storts Memorial Scholarship committee.

“He wasn’t a very big guy, he wasn’t a standout athlete, but he was the hardest working guy in the room at all times and he showed what a true athlete is,” Lyles said about his knowledge of Storts. He is very familiar with the award since his older brother was the 2016 recipient of the scholarship.

At 5-foot 10-inches tall and 165 pounds, Storts did not appear to have been built to play as an offensive lineman. During his senior year, however, Storts was selected by his teammates as the outstanding offensive lineman for the 1976 Ardmore Tigers football team.

“He was a good guy. He was a little guy but, man, he got the job done,” said Blake Bahner, a fellow 1977 Ardmore graduate who played football with Storts from seventh grade through senior year. Bahner remembered Storts as a quiet person from a good family that was always there, whether to help out or have a good time, while they grew up together.

Bahner also remembered the Storts who played sports. “He was a good athlete, I think he showed a lot of heart and was pretty darn mean, too,” he said.

Lyles was one of three finalists for this year’s award along with Josh Cajina and Taylor Thompson. As a member of the 2018 program, Lyles said his favorite Tiger football memory was playing in a state championship game.

“Even though the outcome wasn’t exactly what we wanted, it was still the first time in 21 years that team made it to the state finals,” he said.

Lyles is an Oklahoma Class 5A All-Star defensive end and a member of the 2019 All-Ardmoreite football team with 38 tackles, 27 assists, 10 sacks and two fumble recoveries. He also found himself on special teams as a deep snapper for two seasons' worth of field goals and extra points.

Lyles plans to attend Langston University and said he will use the $6,000 scholarship to help him work toward a degree in nursing. He is also excited to continue his athletic career and suit up for the Langston Lions as a defensive tackle or end.

“Wherever the coaches need me,” he said.

The Chris Storts Memorial Scholarship Fund is sustained by donations and has awarded nearly $115,000 to graduating Ardmore Tiger football players since 1998.