Francis Albert Schmidt – 2014 Inductee

On this date, August 24, 2014, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is pleased to present to the world the fifth and last of the members of the OCHF Class of 2014:

 

Francis Schmidt with his trademark bowtie.
Francis Schmidt with his trademark bowtie.

He has been called one of the greatest college football coaches of all time.  He forever changed both college and professional football with his invention of the I-Formation and sowing the seeds for the West Coast Offense.  And, he was born in Downs, Osborne County, Kansas.  We welcome Francis Albert Schmidt to the Osborne County Hall of Fame.

Francis was indeed born in Downs on December 3, 1885.  His father, Francis W. Schmidt, was an itinerant studio photographer.  His mother, Emma K. Mohrbacher, a native Kansan.  Francis and Emma would have one other child, a daughter, Katherine.

Francis as part of the University of Nebraska football team in 1905.
Francis as part of the University of Nebraska football team in 1905.

As a photographer the elder Francis stayed in a particular location for only a few years before moving on.   After stops in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, and Kansas, the family was living in Fairbury, Nebraska, when young Francis graduated from Fairbury High School in May 1903.  A year later he enrolled in the University of Nebraska.

Francis participated in football, baseball, basketball, track and the cadet band at the University of Nebraska while earning a law degree in just three years, graduating in 1907.  Due to his mother having a serious illness Francis put aside his law career and helped his father with the photography studio in Arkansas City, Kansas, and taking care of his mother, who died later that summer.  He helped the local high school football team that fall, as they had no coach, and even coached the boys and girls high school basketball teams that winter, leading the girls (with his sister Katherine as the center) to an undefeated season and the Kansas state championship.

For the 1908-1909 school year Francis was offered the position of high school athletic director.  He held it until the spring of 1916 and continued to coach both football and basketball with amazing success.  Then Henry Kendall College in Tulsa Oklahoma, hired him to be their football, basketball, and baseball head coach.  His time there was interrupted by World War I, through which he served as a military instructor in bayonet, rising to the rank of captain. After the war he returned to Henry Kendall College (later renamed the University of Tulsa) and his 1919 football team roared its way to a record of 8-0-1.  In the 1919 season Kendall defeated the vaunted Oklahoma Sooners, but a 7-7 tie with Oklahoma A&M that year prevented a perfect season.   Francis became known as “Close the Gates of Mercy” Schmidt because of his team’s tendency to run up the score on inferior teams. During Schmidt’s three years at Kendall the football team won two conference championships as they defeated Oklahoma Baptist 152-0, St. Gregory 121-0, and Northeast Oklahoma 151-0, as well as a 92-0 defeat of East Central Oklahoma  and 10 other victories by more than 60 points each time.

Francis and his team at Henry Kendall College in 1920.
Francis and his team at Henry Kendall College in 1920.

It was around this time that Francis married Evelyn Keesee.  The couple would have no children.

Francis was then hired to be the head football, basketball, and baseball coach at the University of Arkansas , where he compiled a 42-20-3 record in football for the Razorbacks from 1922-1928 and a 113-22 record in basketball – winning four Southwest Conference Championships in basketball in 1926, 1927, 1928, and 1929 – as the school’s first-ever such coach.

From Arkansas Francis went on to become the head football coach at Texas Christian University (TCU) where he won nearly 85% of his games. Schmidt did everything to extremes, including recruiting. He refereed high-school football games, but spent much of his time telling select players why they should commit to TCU in the days before athletic scholarships.  In five years at Texas Christian, 1929-1934, Francis compiled a 46-6-5 record and won two Southwest Conference championships.

At this time Ohio State University was a backwater in terms of major college football.  Desperate to build a winning program, they took a chance on Schmidt, their third choice for the head coaching job.   At 6 feet 2 and 200 pounds, Schmidt was a large man with a prominent nose and distinctive drawl.  Schmidt used his World War One bayonet drill instructor experience in running his practices.  This, together with a loud, raucous and colorful approach to the English language, created an imposing character the likes of which had never been heard on the serene and conservative Ohio State campus. “He was Foghorn Leghorn in a three-piece suit and bow tie”, recalled one former player.

Schmidt arrived in Columbus on February 28, 1934. Within hours, the coach had distinguished alumni, faculty members and reporters on their hands and knees combing the carpets of a hotel conference room. Asked for his offensive strategies, the Downs, Kansas native dropped to the floor, pulled nickels and dimes from his pockets and diagramed his innovative visions for the Buckeyes. The Columbus Dispatch columnist Ed Penisten depicted the bizarre scene:  “He was a zealot, full of excitement, confidence and quirks. Converts began to join him on the floor including OSU assistant football coaches.  He moved the nickels and dimes around like a kaleidoscope.”

Francis soon proved his genius for offensive football.  In his first year at Ohio State he stunned the opposition by displaying – in the same game – the single wing, double wing, short punt and, for the first time ever, his own invention: the I-formation.  He used reverses, double reverses and spinners, and his Buckeyes of the mid-nineteen thirties were the most lateral-pass conscience team anyone had ever witnessed.  He threw laterals, and then laterals off of laterals downfield, and it was not unusual for three men to handle the ball behind the line of scrimmage.   In his first two years he got touchdowns in such bunches that Ohio State immediately was dubbed “The Scarlet Scourge.” He was a bow-tied, tobacco-chewing, hawk-faced, white-haired, profane practitioner of the football arts – modern football’s first roaring madman on the practice field and the sidelines, and so completely zonked out on football that legend ties him to the greatest football story of the twentieth century:

So caught up was Francis in his diagrams and charts that there was hardly a waking moment when he wasn’t furiously scratching away at them.  He took his car into a filling station for an oil change but stayed right in the car while the mechanics hoisted it high above the subterranean oil pit to do their work.  Francis Schmidt, immersed in his X’s and O’s, simply forgot where he was.  For some reason he decided to get out of the car, still concentrating on his diagram.  He opened the door on the driver’s side and stepped out into the void, which ended eight feet south of him in the pit.  He refused to explain the limp which he carried with him to practice that day.

At Francis’ first football banquet after a sensational first season capped by a glorious 34-0 shellacking of Michigan, Schmidt bawled forth two classic and historic comments.  “Let’s not always be called Buckeyes,” he brayed.  “After all, that’s just some kind of nut, and we ain’t nuts here. It would be nice if you guys in the press out there would call us “Bucks” once in a while.  That’s a helluva fine animal, you know.” Ringing applause. And then:

As for Michigan – Well, shucks, I guess you’ve all discovered they put their pants on one leg at a time just like everybody else.” Bedlam.  It was the apparently the first time the homely Texas line had ever been uttered in public and it swept the nation.  It also launched a “Pants Club” at Ohio State; ever since 1934 each player and a key booster who is part of a victory over Michigan is awarded a tiny little golden replica of a pair of football pants.

The Schmidt Gold Pants Charm given to every member of an Ohio State team that defeats Michigan.
The Schmidt Gold Pants Charm is given to every member of an Ohio State team that defeats Michigan.

The Ohio State Buckeyes became a national sensation in 1935. They won their first four games, setting up an undefeated showdown against Notre Dame. The game attracted a capacity crowd of 81,018 and has been often called “The Game of the Century.”  The Buckeyes surged to a 13-0 lead, but their advantage vanished in the fourth quarter. The Irish scored twice in the final two minutes to beat the Buckeyes 18-13. The Buckeyes regrouped and won their final three games, including a 38-0 pasting of Michigan, to win a share of the Big Ten title – their first in 15 years.

Schmidt, however, was haunted by the Notre Dame loss. It was the first in a string of big-game losses, and critics started to question whether his reliance on laterals, shovel passes and trick plays worked against top-quality opponents. Schmidt never worried about “getting back to basics,” because he didn’t stress them. His long practices were light on fundamentals such as blocking and tackling. Perhaps fueled by paranoia, Schmidt didn’t delegate authority, which often reduced his assistants to spectators at practice. He kept the master playbook locked away; players’ copies contained only their specific assignments and no hint at what their 10 teammates were doing. Among his shortcomings, Schmidt never understood the importance of mentorship and discipline. In Schmidt’s last seasons, key players became academically ineligible; others showed up late to practices. Team morale suffered. After the 1940 season in which the Buckeyes won four games and lost four, Schmidt resigned amidst heavy criticism from both fans and the administration.  His total win-loss-tie record with the Buckeyes was 39-16-1 with two Big Ten championships.

The only position that Francis could then find as a head coach was at the University of Idaho.  In 1941 his team posted a 4-5 record, and in 1942 they finished 3-6-1.  Then the school suspended football because of World War II.

Francis never coached again, ending with a college coaching record of 158-57-11.  He stayed on campus to help condition service trainees, but barely a year later he fell into a long illness and died at St. Luke’s Hospital in Spokane, Washington, on September 19, 1944, at the age of 58. Francis was laid to rest beside his parents in the Riverview Cemetery at Arkansas City, Cowley County, Kansas.

The legacy of Schmidt has endured thanks to Sid Gillman, a Pro Football Hall of Fame coach who was a Buckeye end in the early 1930s and an assistant under Schmidt.  Gillman is considered the father of the modern passing offense, and specifically the West Coast Offense which he used as a head coach.  He always gave credit to Francis Schmidt that the principles of that offense were based on what he was taught by Schmidt.  Gillman’s teachings had significant impact on the careers of later National Football League icons such as Al Davis and Bill Walsh.

Francis Schmidt’s imprint on the collegiate game remains well into the modern era as well. In the 2006 Fiesta Bowl, Boise State used three trick plays – a hook and lateral, Statue of Liberty, and wide-receiver pass – to stun Oklahoma 43-42.  Schmidt had made all three plays famous while using them at Ohio State.

75 years after Schmidt coached his first game at Ohio State, a new book profiling his life was published. Frantic Francis, written by Brett Perkins (University of Nebraska Press, 2009) examines not only his career but also his effect on the modern game

Francis Albert Schmidt was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1971.  He is also a member of the Halls of Fame at Nebraska, Tulsa, Arkansas, Texas Christian, and Ohio State. And now he is the newest member of the Osborne County Hall of Fame.

Francis when he was head coach at Ohio State University.
Francis when he was head coach at Ohio State University.
Evelyn Keesee Schmidt, wife of Francis.  Photo courtesy of Caroline Cain.
Evelyn Keesee Schmidt, wife of Francis. Photo courtesy of Caroline Cain.
News story about Francis and Evelyn Schmidt while he was coach at Ohio State University.  Courtesy Caroline Cain.
News story about Francis and Evelyn Schmidt while he was coach at Ohio State University. Courtesy Caroline Cain.
The official 1971 letter announcing Francis Schmidt's induction into the College Football Hall of Fame.  Courtesy of Caroline Cain.
The official 1971 letter announcing Francis Schmidt’s induction into the College Football Hall of Fame. Courtesy of Caroline Cain.
Cover of the book Frantic Francis, published in 2009.
Cover of the book Frantic Francis, published in 2009.

 

Schmidt Francis Albert tombstone
The grave of Francis Schmidt in Arkansas City, Kansas.

SOURCES: Barbara Wyche; Frantic Francis, written by Brett Perkins, (University of Nebraska Press, 2009); Columbus Dispatch, Thursday, September 3, 2009;  Topeka Daily Capital, May 16, 2012; The Spokesman-Review, November 6, 2009; University of Arkansas Athletics Hall of Fame; University of Tulsa Athletics Hall of Fame; College Football Hall of Fame.

Advertisements

Garry G. Sigle – 2013 Inductee

(On this date, October 6, 2013, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is pleased to present to the world for the first time anywhere the second of the five members of the new OCHF Class of 2013)

Garry_Sigle_5x7_300dpiGarry G. Sigle was born in Russell, Russell County, Kansas, on October 28, 1956.  His parents were Richard and Evea Jane (Applegate) Sigle.  Garry was the youngest of five children.  Arris, Donna, Larry and Scott are his siblings.  Richard Sigle farmed 17 miles south and 5 miles east of Osborne, Kansas, near the Cheyenne United Methodist Church in Jackson Township of Osborne County, Kansas.  Evea Jane taught 5th grade at Osborne Elementary from 1962 until 1978.  Garry grew up working with his dad and brothers on the family farm throughout his grade school and high school years and even returned during the summers of college to help on the farm.

Garry played summer league baseball from 5th grade on and played junior high football, basketball and track & field.  At Osborne High School he participated in cross-country, basketball and track & field lettering in cross-country four years, basketball one and track & field 3 years.  In cross-country his highest individual finish was 3rd his senior year at the state meet.  In track & field he was the Northern Kansas League champion in the mile and 2-mile his senior year, and was the state champion in the indoor mile & outdoor mile and in the 2-mile, setting school records in both (4:24.1 and 9:33.1).  Both are still the state records for those respective events.

Garry then attended Fort Hays State University (FHSU) on a cross-country and track & field scholarship, majoring in Industrial Arts.

Fort Hays State University sports awards:

  • Four-Time NAIA All-American, twice in cross-country (12th , 1975 and 11th , 1977) and twice in indoor track & field (2nd in 2-mile, 1976, 2nd in 2-mile, 1978)
  • Was an Outdoor Track & Field Honorable mention All-American (5th in 10,000 meters, 1978)
  • Earned the Busch Gross award as the Fort Hays State University outstanding senior athlete, 1978
  • Inducted into the Tiger Sports Hall of Fame, 2008

Prior to his senior year, Garry married Linda Samuelson.  Upon graduation from FHSU, Garry was hired to be the industrial arts (woodworking/drafting) instructor at Riley County High School, where he stayed for 33 years.  He was also the head cross-country and head track & field coach.  In addition to his duties as a teacher/coach, he was also the Huddle Coach for the Riley County Fellowship of Christian Athletes for 29 years.  In 2011 Garry was inducted into the Kansas Fellowship of Christian Athletes Coaches Hall of Fame.

While at Riley County, Garry was named the Manhattan Area Walmart Teacher of the Year in 1998.  His coaching resumé includes 12 team state championships.  Seven of those have come in girls cross-country, three in boys cross-country and one each in girls track & field and boys track & field.  He has many top three team finishes at the state meet in both sports.  Garry has coached ten girls and seven boys to individual state titles in cross-country.  He has coached 33 boys and 52 girls to all-state honors (top 20 individual finishes at the state meet).  His cross-country teams have won 23 boys and 22 girls league championships.  In track & field, Riley County has had 28 boys and 28 girls win individual state championships and have had 112 boys and 113 girls earn all-state status (top 7 finishes in an event at the state track & field meet).  To finish his career, Coach Sigle had, for 17 consecutive years, at least one Riley County athlete who was an individual state champion at the KSHSAA Track & Field state meet.  Garry served as the chairman of cross-country for the Kansas Coaches Association from 1997 to 2008 and served as the President of the Kansas Cross-Country and Track & Field Coaches Association from 1996-2004.  He was the founder, editor and publisher of the Kansas Cross-Country Coaches Rankings, which he started in 1982 and continued until he retired in 2011.  In 2012 Garry was inducted into the Kansas State High School Activities Association Hall of Fame at the state track and field meet in Wichita.

Upon retirement from USD 378, Riley County in May, 2011, Garry was hired, starting in June, 2011, to be the Executive Director for the Kansas Association of American Educators.  That organization is a non-union professional teachers association.  He continues in that position today.

Garry has been married to his wife Linda for 36 years and together they have three sons:  Ben, his wife Cheryl and three grandchildren (Damon, Haley and Braden), who live in Manhattan; Luke and his wife Leah, who reside in Nashville, Tennessee; and Tim and his wife Lana, who live in Manhattan.

Garry has had many of his athletes move on to collegiate athletics including all three of his sons.  Ben Sigle was a multiple state champion while at Riley County and still holds the distinction of being the only freshman boy in Kansas history to ever win an individual state cross-country championship.  He is one of only a handful of those who won 3 state cross-country titles (missing his sophomore year with an injury when he placed 5th).  Ben went on to win 5 outdoor track & field individual titles in the distances.  He ran for Oklahoma State University and was All-Big 12 there.  Luke Sigle ran for Butler County Junior College and Oklahoma State University while Tim Sigle competed collegiately in golf at Cowley County Junior College.

Other former athletes include Jon McGraw who played football for Kansas State and professionally with the Detroit Lions, New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs.  Jon was a state champion triple jumper and still holds the Kansas 3A state record at 47’ 6 ¾”.  Amy Mortimer was the state champion in cross-country all four years and won 9 individual distance event state championships in track and field.  Amy, during her senior year, ran the fastest mile for a female in the United States, running it in 4:42.4!  She went on to be a multiple All-American at Kansas State and finished third at the US National track & field meet in the 1500M in early 2000s.  Jordy Nelson was a multiple state champion in track & field but was better known as a Kansas State University wide receiver and now plays for the Green Bay Packers.  Jordy owns 3A state track & field records in the 100 (10.63 FAT) and 200 (21.64 FAT).

These are just a few of the outstanding athletes Garry had the opportunity to coach.  There were many, many others too numerous to mention.

*  *  *  *  *

Garry Sigle – Professional Resume:

Education

  • Licensed Private Pilot – Manhattan, Kansas 2003
  • TAC Level II Coaching School (Throws) – Provo, Utah 1992
  • TAC Level I Coaching School – Grinnell, Iowa 1988
  • M.S. in Physical Education, Kansas State University 1982
  • B.S. in Industrial Arts, Fort Hays State University 1978
  • High School Diploma, Osborne High School 1974

 Athletic Achievements

Fort Hays State University: Hays, Kansas 1974-1978

  • NAIA All-American
  • Cross Country – 1975 (12th), 1977 (11th)
  • Indoor Track 2-Mile – 1976 (2nd), 1978 (2nd)
    • NAIA All-American Honorable Mention
    • Outdoor Track 10,000 meters – 1978 (5th)
    • Busch Gross Award Winner
      • Outstanding Senior Athlete – 1978
      • CSIC Champion
      • Outdoor Track 3 mile – 1976, 1978
        • CSIC All-Conference Honors
        • Cross Country 1974 (8th), 1975 (6th)
        • 1976 (4th), 1977 (3rd)
          • Tiger Sports Hall of Fame – October, 2008

Osborne High School: Osborne, Kansas 1970-1974

  • KSHSAA Track & Field Champion
    • Indoor Track 1 mile – 1974
    • Outdoor Track 1 mile & 2 mile – 1974
    • All-State Cross Country
      • 1972 (11th), 1973 (3rd)

Kansas Fellowship of Christian Athletes:

  • Coaches Hall of Fame – April, 2011

Riley County High School: Riley, KS

  • The School District named the track the Garry Sigle Track – May 4, 2011

Kansas State High School Activities Association:

  • Induction into the KSHSAA Hall of Fame – May, 2012

 Professional Experience

Kansas Association of American Educators: Executive Director, June, 2011 to present

Riley County High School: Riley, Kansas 1978 to 2011

  • Industrial Education Instructor: Woodworking & Drafting/Computer Aided Drafting
  • Head Teacher: 2006 to 2011
  • Block Schedule Seminar Committee Chairperson: 1997 to 2011
  • Head Cross Country Coach: Boys 1979 to 2011, Girls 1981 to 2011
  • Meet Director: Invitational, Regional
  • Head Track & Field Coach: Boys and Girls 1982 to 2011
  • Meet Director: Quadrangulars, Invitationals, League, Regional, AAU
  • Head Basketball Coach: Girls 1980 to 1982
  • Assistant Track & Field Coach: 1979 to 1981
  • Assistant Junior High Basketball Coach: Boys 1978 to 1980

City of Riley: Riley, Kansas Summer 2001, Summer 2002

  • Pool Manager

KSHSAA: 1978 to 1993

  • Certified Basketball Official

Coaching Achievements

Cross Country

32  years Boys Head Coach, 29 years Girls Head Coach

6 years as coach of the Blue Valley athletes – 2004-2010

State Team Championships: Boys = 3, Girls = 7

State Individual Champions: Riley County Boys = 6, Girls = 9

                                                           Blue Valley Boys = 1, Girls = 1

State Top Six Team Finishes: Boys = 15, Girls = 19

All-State Individuals: Riley County Boys = 33, Girls = 52

Blue Valley Boys = 4, Girls = 2

Regional Team Championships: Boys = 10, Girls = 14

Regional Team Runners-up: Boys = 9, Girls = 5

League Team Championships: Boys = 23, Girls = 22

League Individual Champions: Riley County Boys = 19, Girls = 23

Blue Valley Boys = 2, Girls = 1

Track & Field

30 years Head Coach, 3 years Assistant Coach

State Team Championships: Boys = 1, Girls = 1

State Team Runners-Up: Boys = 2, Girls = 3

State Top Ten Team Finishes: Boys = 14, Girls = 17

State Individual Event Champions: Boys = 28, Girls = 28

All-State Performers: Boys = 112, Girls = 113

Regional Team Championships: Boys = 2, Girls = 7

Regional Team Runners-up: Boys = 7, Girls = 1

League Team Championships: Boys = 13, Girls = 10

17 consecutive years with at least one individual state Track & Field Champion – 1995 to 2011

Professional Honors and Achievements

  • Head Cross Country Coach for Down Under Sports (Missouri) to Australia and Hawaii – Summer 2008
  • Head Track & Field Coach for Down Under Sports (Kansas/Missouri) to Australia and Hawaii – Summer, 2009, 2010, 2011
  • Distance Coach for International Sports Tours to Scotland, United Kingdom, France and Switzerland – Summer 2000
  • Kansas Coaches Association Cross Country Chairman for the state of Kansas: 1997 to 2008
  • Kansas Cross Country and Track & Field Coaches Association Class 3A Girls Cross Country Coach of the Year: 2005
  • Finalist for National Federation of Interscholastic Coaches Association National Girls Cross Country Coach of the Year – 2011
  • National Federation of Interscholastic Coaches Association Section 5 Girls Cross Country Coach of the Year: 2010
  • National Federation of Interscholastic Coaches Association Section 5 Girls Track & Field Coach of the Year: 1999
  • Kansas Coaches Association Girls Track & Field Coach of the Year: 1998
  • Kansas Coaches Association Girls Cross Country Coach of the Year: 1992, 2009
  • Kansas Cross Country and Track & Field Coaches Association President: 1996 to 2004
  • Kansas Cross Country and Track & Field Coaches Association Secretary: 1986 to 1996
  • Wal-Mart Manhattan Area Teacher of the Year: 1998
  • Founder, Editor and Publisher of Kansas Cross Country Coaches Rankings: 1982 to 2010
  • Region 8 AAU Track & Field Championships Head Field Event Referee: 2000, 2002
  • NJCAA National Indoor Track & Field Championships Head Field Event Referee: 1991 to 1994
  • Kansas All Star Track & Field Meet Coach: 1988, 1989
  • Race Director of Riley Five & One: 1983 to 1987, 1992
  • Race Director of Bridge to ‘Burg 10K: 1980 to 1987

 Professional Presentations

  • 2013 – Testified at Kansas Senate Education Committee Hearing
  • 2013 – Testified at Kansas House Education Committee Hearing
  • 2011 – Riley County High School Graduation Speaker
  • 2011 – Testified at Kansas House Federal and State Affairs Committee
  • 2008 – Butler County Comm. College XC Coaching Clinic Speaker
  • 2007 – Riley County High School Graduation Speaker
  • 2006 – Wichita State University Track & Field Clinic
  • 2005 – KSHSAA Coaching School Cross Country Speaker
  • 2005 – KCCTFCA Track & Field Coaching Clinic
  • 2004 – Emporia State University Track & Field Coaching Clinic Panelist
  • 2003 – Brown Mackie Championship Basketball Clinic Speaker
  • 2002 – Emporia State University Track & Field Coaching Clinic Speaker
  • 1998 – Fort Hays State University Track & Field Coaching Clinic Speaker
  • 1997 – KSHSAA Coaching School Track & Field Speaker
  • 1991 – Emporia State University Track & Field Coaching Clinic Speaker
  • 1985 – Bethany College Track & Field Clinic Speaker
  • 1983 – K.C. Harmon Track & Field Clinic Panelist

Leadership Experience

  • KSHSAA Track & Field Rules Interpreter: 2004 to 2010
  • KCCTFCA Coaches Clinic Coordinator: 2003, 2004, 2005
  • Fellowship of Christian Athletes Huddle Coach: 1979 to 2007
  • Fellowship of Christian Athletes State Conference Athletic Director: 1995 to 2003
  • Association of American Educators Member: 1995 to present
  • Westview Community Church Local Board of Administration: 1989 to 1992, 1996 to 1997, 2008 to 2011
  • Fellowship of Christian Athletes National Coaches Camp Athletic Director: 1991
  • Fellowship of Christian Athletes National Running Camp Staff: 1986
  • NASA Teacher in Space Applicant: 1985
  • Walsburg Lutheran Church Councilman: 1981 to 1985

Articles Published

  • Minimum Requirements for Interscholastic Coaches”, Journal of Physical Education and Recreation, Noble and Sigle, November/December 1980
  • Cross Country Training”, Green Light Sports, Sigle, October 1997
Legendary Hall of Fame track coach Alex Francis with Garry at Fort Hays State University.
Legendary Hall of Fame track coach Alex Francis with Garry at Fort Hays State University.
Garry Sigle as a Fort Hays  State University runner.
Garry Sigle as a Fort Hays State University runner.
The Sigle family at the KU Relays in 2002.
The Sigle family at the KU Relays in 2002.
Garry Sigle at a track meet.
Garry Sigle at a track meet.
Garry Sigle upon his induction into the Kansas State High School Activities Association Hall of Fame.
Garry Sigle waving to the crowd at his induction into the Kansas State High School Activities Association Hall of Fame in May 2012.

*  *  *  *  *

Garry Sigle’s Riley County High School State Championship Teams:

1994 State Cross-Country Champion Team.
1994 State Cross-Country Champion Team.
1995 State Cross-Country  Championship Team.
1995 State Cross-Country Championship Team.
1996 State Cross-Country Championship Team.
1996 State Cross-Country Championship Team.
1997 State Cross-Country Championship Team.
1997 State Cross-Country Championship Team.
1998 State Cross-Country Championship Team.
1998 State Cross-Country Championship Team.
1998 State Track & Field Championship Team.
1998 State Track & Field Championship Team.
1999 State Track & Field Championship Team.
1999 State Track & Field Championship Team.
2000 State Cross-Country Championship Team.
2000 State Cross-Country Championship Team.
2005 State Cross-Country Championship Team.
2005 State Cross-Country Championship Team.
2006 State Cross-Country Championship Team.
2006 State Cross-Country Championship Team.
2007 State Cross-Country Championship Team.
2007 State Cross-Country Championship Team.
2009 State Cross-Country Championship Team.
2009 State Cross-Country Championship Team.

Darrel LeVerle Wolters – 2010 Inductee

Darrel Wolters – An Autobiography

Darrel LeVerle Wolters, a lifetime teacher and coach, was born in the Portis, Kansas hospital on July 24, 1942.  Dr. Burtch, another Portis County Hall of Famer, did the delivery.  Portis, Kansas was always known for basketball because of the legendary 1920-1930s Portis Dynamos, who ruled Kansas semi-pro teams with numerous championships over cities with populations thousands of times larger.  In fact LeVerle Wolters, my dad, played in the 1930s on this well known team. So it was probably in the blood that I was going to like basketball. At early age, my uncle gave me the nickname of “Spook” because I was so shy.  I am still known in this area as Spook. The disadvantage was when I entered high school I was only 51” tall. I realized that being small in stature, I would have to practice more than my competition. So I played and practiced ball every day, several hours a day.  LeVerle owned the Wolters Lumber Yard, and every Wednesday and Saturday mornings it was packed with boisterous and back seat coaches.  A new school was built in 1951, which was envy of many schools because of atmosphere and gymnasium.  By the way, it wasn’t hard to know what the town considered important in the school system, the gymnasium laid smack in middle of all the classrooms that were built around the gym. The little quiet town of Portis (less than 200 people) had three churches and most put on their best clothes and attended church on Sunday morning, honoring God.

It was in the lumber yard, as I remember, that I realized if you were going to amount to anything or get recognition you better be pretty good at basketball. As a youngster I can remember many Saturday mornings as everyone would huddle around the old wood and coal stove, the excitement would soon lead to laughter as someone’s coat would start to smoke as they had backed up too close to the stove in the passion of stories, of the night before ball games. Someone would beat out the fire with their gloves and the stories of heroics would go on. Portis had no football in the school system, as a severe injury back in the 1930s to a young athlete caused the school board to abolish the sport. So in the fall, baseball was played and there were not many nearby opponents, so we would travel in cars long distances to find competition. Coach Stark would take his station wagon, and rest of the transportation was by students driving to games in their own old car; so we would jump in with our buddies. We had no buses. As servicemen returned from World War II, every town had town team baseball games.  I would follow my dad to all them and developed a love for baseball as well as basketball. Then in the 1950s as everyone got older it changed to softball.

As my high school years commenced, I became a part of some outstanding basketball teams, going to State in both of my junior and senior years.  Portis was in Class BB and the State Basketball Tournament was played at Dodge City Auditorium.  Portis was a part of the North-South Solomon League. It was made up of these schools – Woodston Coyotes, Lebanon Broncos, Gaylord Beavers, Agra Purple Chargers, Kirwin Wildcats, Kensington Goldbugs, and Portis’ biggest rivalry, the Alton Wildcats.  Kensington is the only school that still has an attendance center.

It was after success in high school I knew I wanted to coach basketball and give young kids the same experiences I had.  Upon my high school graduation and turning down a couple of scholarships, I chose Fort Hays State for college because it was closer to home.  Remember, my nickname is Spook.

In 1963 I was married to the lovely Diana (Suzi) Holloway, from Alton Kansas. We have four children: Melody, Dusty, Jason and Mandy.  In 1965 my long time dream of coaching and teaching became a reality, as I was contracted to teach and coach at Utica High School. I coached all Junior and Senior High sports, including baseball, basketball, cross country and track. I was fortunate enough to have coached Dave Burrell for six years, the all time Kansas High School Season Scoring Average leader at 33.3 points per game. After six years teaching and coaching the Utica Dragons, I moved on to coach four years at Wheatland (a consolidated high school for the towns of Grainfield, Gove and Park, Kansas). There I was head boys basketball coach as well as track. I taught Biology and Physical Education. After limited success, I came back from western Kansas and was hired to run Ken’s Department Store in Osborne, Kansas. There was no teaching vacancies available on my return to my home county. After three years as a haberdasher, I then managed House of Diamonds, a jewelry store, for two years.  I enjoyed the business world, but always wanted to get back into teaching. There is nothing like working with young people. Watching their lives change into young men and women is awesome, and I am always just hoping you might make a little difference. And to teach in my home district is extra special.  I always looked at teaching as a tremendous responsibility. The parents are entrusting you with the greatest commodity they have, their children.

At Osborne I taught 7th and 8th Grade Science and Physical Education.  I assisted with basketball and football. I taught 23 years in Osborne U.S.D. School District #392 before retiring from teaching in 2004 and from coaching basketball in 2007.  I coached High School Golf for 19 years, with our best finish a 3rd place in the State Golf Tournament in 2000.  In the late 1980s I coached high school girls basketball for the first time in my career.  In four years I had good teams but state play was elusive.  In 1997 some parents came to me and asked if I would consider coaching the girls again, as the teams had been struggling.

After saying yes, the next decade was truly a dream come true.  Darrel was blessed to have some talented athletes who were as crazy about basketball as he was.  Not only were these kids basketball players, but they were intelligent and filled with amazing tenacity!  I would encourage them to practice all summer and they would get up 6:30 A.M. to lift weights and shoot hoops for hours. They were disciplined and loved to compete. The Osborne girls practiced harder and longer than any of their opponents.  Often there were three hours a night of basketball practice and they never complained.  It was such an honor to coach them and even more important to see how successful they are today, as family leaders and successful in their professional careers.

It was at this time that Osborne Lady Bulldogs not only took the community by storm, but provided me with the dream of letting my players experience State Play that I experienced nearly 40 years ago at Portis High School. I will never forget in 2000, the moment that we won the State Championship undefeated, looking up at the score board in Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan, Kansas, and thanking God, that a little boy from a little village had attained what he dreamed of all his life. Along with my team, my family, my assistant coach Jamie Wolters, and all the fans that funneled down Highway 24 for the 130 miles trip east from Osborne; only in America could this happen.

The stats look something like this. An undefeated State Championship and 26-0 in 2000; a winning streak of 51 straight games; the runner-up in the 2001 State Tournament with a record of 25-1; another State Championship in 2002; the runner-up again in 2003; winning six Mid-Continent League titles; a overall 98-6 record in the four-year span; playing in four straight State Championship Title Games; six overall trips to the State Basketball Tournament; and compiling a record of 260 wins and 72 losses in 14 years of coaching the Lady Bulldogs, with never a losing season. I was named Coach of the Year twice in the Salina Journal and Wichita Eagle newspapers. I coached two Kansas Coaches All-Star games in Topeka, as well as one at Colby. I received Coach of the Year honors from the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association twice. I was basketball clinician at the Kansas Coaches Association Clinic in Topeka, as well as at Fort Hays State University. In year 2000 The Osborne Lady Bulldogs and their coach were rewarded with a trip to the chambers of the Kansas Senate and the Kansas House of Representatives for special recognition as undefeated State Class 2A Basketball Champions.

Longtime and successful girls’ basketball coach of the Smith Center Redmen, Nick Linn, said of Coach Wolters, “I don’t ever remember a game where Coach Wolters had his players anything less than 100% ready.  They were always well-prepared.  Coach emphasized great defense.  You have to score to win.  Problem was, they wouldn’t let us score.  Offense wins games . . . Defense wins championships”.

Many of my athletes went on to play college ball and excelled at every level. Many school records both team and individual were recorded. I am most proud of the kind of teams we put on the floor. I received many cards, calls, and letters about how the teams played with so much enthusiasm. Many noticed how they always dressed up for game day, and carried themselves with pride and loyalty. They were gracious in victory and humble in defeat. Most people don’t realize what truly makes a great teams. Everyone can’t be a star on a basketball team and there are many unselfish role players that are just as much or more important to the team. We had a ton of them. They were the ones who inspired, gave out the assists, rebounded, played tough defense, worked hard so that our teams could be successful. I loved those gals, because they had the heart of David. We were so fortunate to have support of businesses and community and on game nights brought us all together, to pull for each other. I feel very humbled to have had this ride with these beautiful kids along with God’s Grace, they still call me COACH.

Since retirement coach I like to hunt, fish, and camp, as well as following my eleven grandchildren in academics and athletics. I love being active in the Grace Brethren Church, giving back just a little of what the Lord blessed me with in my teaching and coaching profession.

Darrel Wolters

*  *  *  *  *

Darrel Wolters on His Osborne High Bulldog Teams

The first year, 1998, we were defeated in finals of Sub-State in the last couple minutes to Valley Heights High School by the score of 76-71. That was the last motivation that this group of girls needed. As they say, the next few years is history. The 1999 Lady Bulldogs went 19-5 and earned their first trip for Coach Wolters as their leader. In the first round at the State Tournament in Bramlage Coliseum it was a heart breaking loss of 60-59 in overtime to Jackson Heights High School. Members of that State team were April and Amber Roadhouse, Brittany Dietz, Stephanie Corwin, Alisha Spears, Kristi Hartzler, Skylar Boland, Mellisa Legg, Angela Gashaw, Jonna Webb, Amanda Smith and Malea Henke. Little did we know at that time, but motel rooms, restaurants, and Bulldog Mania would soon set into Osborne County every March.

The 1999 Osborne High Lady Bulldog State Tournament Team

The turn of the century was a fairy tale come true. In 2000 the Lady Bulldogs became the first basketball team in Osborne High history, boys or girls, to go undefeated, 26-0.  Osborne won the pre­season tourney, league tournament, overall Mid-Continent League Champs, and the Sub-State tourney.  In the first round of the State Tournament the Bulldogs annihilated Valley Heights 64-35 in Manhattan, Kansas. In the semi­finals they outplayed Garden Plain, a very quality team, 51-41. The finals saw hundreds of Osborne Bulldog fans fill the their side of Bramlage Coliseum for the match with Moundridge. Moundridge started five seniors and  featured Laurie Koehn, who went on to star for four years with the Kansas State University Wildcats.  Maroon and Gold went Wild!  The final score was 61-54 for Coach Wolters’ first State Championship, as well as for Osborne High School. It was the most talented and toughest team I ever had. I give all the credit to them, and so thankful the good Lord allowed this time, this place, with this group to share once in a life time event. Not many times in life can you be perfect! The members were: Amber and April Roadhouse, Brittany Dietz, Mary Wilson, Kristie Hartzler, Ashley Noel, Jessica Spears, Melissa Legg, Brooke Ubelaker, Jonna Webb, Amanda Smith and Alisha Spears. The team bought Championship Undefeated Rings, and were rewarded with several school and community celebrations.

Final Score, 2000 Kansas Class 2A State Girls Basketball Tournament
The 2000 Osborne High Lady Bulldog State Tournament Champion Team
Darrel Wolters as 2000 Coach of the Year
Coach Wolters told his team that if they won the 2000 State Championship he would shave his moustache!

2001 started out like 2000, as this new team won 25 straight games without a defeat, ending with a 51-game winning streak. Again they won the preseason, league tourney and league title, along with the sub-state tournament. In the first round of State, the Bulldogs defeated Valley Heights 65-35. In the semi-finals the Lady Dogs set an all time Class 2A defensive record by holding Inman to just 22 points for the entire game. It was a masterful exhibition of pressure defense that completely stymied our opponents. This record still stands for all State Playoff games. The finals of the State Championship was a heart breaker, as Garden Plains handed the Bulldogs their first defeat in 52 games by score of 54-45. After playing three games in three days we seemed to be just a step slow. I feel we could and should have beat them on most nights. We ended the season 25-1, another super year! Team members were: April Roadhouse, Brittany Dietz, Ashley Noel, Kristen Henke, Mary Wilson„ Denise Hartzler, Anne Zeiger, Jill Smith, Brooke Ubelaker, Jessica Spears, Alisha Spears, and Hanna Wilson.  Expectations were growing at OHS.

The 2001 Osborne High Lady Bulldog State Tournament Team

2002 was another dominating year for the Osborne girls, winning all four tournaments and their second State Championship in three years. Hundreds of cars funneled down Highway 24 to the Little Apple. The opening round at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan saw Osborne defeat Onaga 61-41. In the second round Osborne whipped Sublette 68-54. Sublette had Shayla Lenning, who went on and became an All-American for Emporia State University. The finals was between Osborne and the Ness City Eagles, who also had one loss. It was an exciting game, but the Bulldogs pulled away late in the game with a 55-38 trouncing.  Members of that team were: April Roadhouse, Brooke Ubelaker, Ashley Noel, Mary Wilson, Karie Ubelaker, Denise Hartzler, Rachel Noel, Meridith Musil, Jessica Spears, Krisa Ubelaker, Lacey Sechtem and Jill Smith. The Cinderella streak continued. With another State Championship, everybody in the State of Kansas knew about the Osborne Lady Bulldogs.

The 2002 Osborne High Lady Bulldog State Tournament Champion Team

The 2003 Bulldogs’ record ended at 23-3. After winning the league tourney, league championship, and Sub-State Tournament, Osborne returned to State for their fifth straight year. In the sub-state tournament Osborne bombed Lincoln 75-45 in the first round; the semi-finals found Osborne beating a good Sacred Heart team 53-50. The finals of sub-state was Osborne 53 and Valley Heights 46. Again the Bulldogs marched to the State Tourney finals for the fourth straight year. In the first round we doubled the score 76-36 against Uniontown. In the semi-finals Osborne ousted St. John 69-63. In the finals, a powerful Moundridge team won by score of 73-55. This give these Senior girls two State Championships and two runner-ups, with an unbelievable record of 98-6.  Seniors were Denise Hartzler, Ashley Noel, Brooke Ubelaker, Jill Smith, Jessica Spears. Others are Tracey Conway, Karie Ubelaker, Rachael Noel, Krisa Ubelaker, Michele Princ, Meredith Musil, and Kelli LaRosh.

The 2003 Osborne High Lady Bulldog State Tournament Team

After retirement coach Wolters wanted to try and get another group to state and it took four years, with a one point loss in the finals of sub-state in 2006. In 2007 they put it together and returned to Manhattan and the Class 2A State Tournament.  The first round, the Lady Maroon and Gold defeated St. John 61-57 in a hard fought game. The semi-finals was another back and forth game as Osborne lost 52-46 to Oakley. The Bulldogs won third place at State with a 57-47 win over Cimarron. This team consisted of Jannica Schultze, Demi French, Traci Mans, Paige Noel, Amberleigh Plowman, Hanna Thibault, Stephanie Plowman, Katie Wolters, Jeni Wolters, Tana Spears, Emily Girard and Blake Nichols. These girls worked real hard to keep tradition going.

The 2007 Osborne High Lady Bulldog State Tournament Team

*  *  *  *  *

Kansas Enrolled Bill #1841 Session 2000
Effective: April 6, 2000

SENATE RESOLUTION NO.1841

A Resolution congratulating and commending Coach Darrel Wolters.

 WHEREAS, Darrel Wolters has been selected by the Wichita Eagle as the Girls Coach of the Year and by the Salina Journal as the All Area Girls Coach of the Year; and

 WHEREAS, Darrel Wolters coached the Osborne High School girls basketball team to the 2000 class 2A Kansas High School Activities Association Championship.  The team completed a perfect 26-0 season by defeating top-ranked and four-time defending state champion Moundridge 61-54 in the class 2A championship game; and

WHEREAS, In 29 years of coaching, Coach Wolters has taken teams to the state tournament in baseball, cross country, track, golf and basketball, but the 2000 girls basketball championship was his first state championship. Wolters got out of coaching in 1990 because he thought it was time for him to retire from coaching but three seasons ago was persuaded by parents to return to coaching. In six years at Osborne he has a 101-34 record. During the season he may not get to bed before 4 a.m. because of looking at game films and entering data in the computer. During the summer he follows his players in league play and sends them packets of information in the mail; and

WHEREAS, Darrel Wolters and his wife, Suzi, have four children and seven grandchildren. Their home is at Portis, approximately 10 miles north of Osborne, which is Wolters’ home town: Now, therefore,

 Be it resolved by the Senate of the State of Kansas:  That we congratulate and commend Darrel Wolters upon his selection as Coach of the Year and for his devotion to young persons’ dreams; and

Be it further resolved:  That the Secretary of the Senate be directed to send five enrolled copies of this resolution to Darrel Wolters at Osborne High School, 219 N. Second, Osborne, Kansas 67473-2003.

Senate Resolution No. 1841 was sponsored by Senator Janis K. Lee.

Roscoe John Robinson – 1997 Inductee

Roscoe John Robinson, a dreamer, a lover of life but most of all a teacher, the youngest child of John William Robinson and Ellen (Eaton) Robinson, was born January 13, 1892, on a farm in the northern part of Saline County, Kansas. Roscoe attended the rural Mahon School, District Number 88, in Saline County throughout his elementary schooling. So that Roscoe could gain more education the John W. Robinson family moved to Tescott. He graduated from the three-year high school in 1909. He taught the school year of 1909-10 at the rural Cole School, District Number 72, in Saline County. The school term was for twenty-eight weeks. Roscoe received the salary of $40.00 per month. He probably boarded in the community as there was no direct route from Tescott to the school. He had no eighth graders that year according to Saline County school records. Needing a wider variety of high school credits, especially in the science subjects so he could attend college to fulfill his dream of becoming a physician, he enrolled in the Salina, Kansas, High School in the fall of 1910. Roscoe graduated, with honors from Salina High, in the spring of 1912. He traveled to and from Tescott to Salina on the train each day to attend school.

As he had not enough financial assistance to attend college beginning in the fall of 1912, Roscoe taught the next school year at Tripp School, District Number 8, in Ottawa County. No records yet have been researched as to the listing of salary, students or if there were any eighth graders. Roscoe felt that he should teach another year, and when his friend of high school days offered him a position of a teacher in the Tescott Grade School, he took it. That meant that Roscoe could live at home.

At last, to fulfill his dream of becoming a physician, in the fall of 1914 Roscoe enrolled in the medical school at Kansas University. An allergic reaction to the ether used in the surgery at the time caused him to give up his dream of becoming a physician. He then transferred to the education department to become a science teacher. Roscoe discovered that many of his pre-med courses could not be transferred towards his education degree; therefore he had to repeat many of the courses to complete his teaching degree to be a science teacher. He was not able to complete his B.S. in Education until the spring of 1926. His college was interrupted by World War I. He enlisted in the Medical Corps of the U.S. Army. His service was very short due to physical problems. Following a goiter operation Roscoe could not work for a year. It was while in the service that Roscoe lost his mother.

Since he could not return to college after his operation, Roscoe resumed his teaching in the fall of 1919. He was hired as the principal of the Tescott Grade School, where the new 3rd/4th grade teacher, Mabel Hobrock, from Minneapolis, Kansas, took his eye. On December 28, 1920, Roscoe John Robinson took Mabel Anne Hobrock as his bride. They were married at the Natoma, Kansas, Methodist parsonage. Roscoe and Mabel had four children–Helen, Robert, Doris, and Frances.

In the fall of 1921, Roscoe and Mabel moved to DeSoto, Kansas. Roscoe continued his studies at Kansas University while being the principal of the DeSoto Grade School. Teaching full time, starting a family, and attending college classes kept Roscoe busy for the next five years. With his new degree in hand, in the fall of 1926 he took the position of science/math teacher at the Eudora, Kansas, High School. He taught there for two years. In the spring of 1928, he had hopes of becoming a high school science teacher in Fort Wayne, Indiana, school system for the coming school year, but that did not materialize.

Roscoe and Mabel, with their young family, were facing a crisis; what to do now–no teaching position available. They finally decided to move back to Tescott to be with his father. In the early fall, a teacher of the Tescott High School resigned. Roscoe was hired to fill that vacancy. At the end of December, the principal resigned and Roscoe was hired for that position temporarily. Since Roscoe had no Master’s Degree, he could not be hired as the permanent principal. George Hitchcock, an old teacher friend, asked Roscoe to become the science/math teacher/coach at the Ada, Kansas, High School for the school year of 1929.

Roscoe and Mabel stayed for eleven years in Ada, Kansas, first as a very successful coach and teacher, then as the principal. At that time only certain size high school principals had to have a Master’s Degree. When Roscoe assumed the principalship, he began his work to receive a Master’s Degree. The state requirements changed, and every high school in Kansas had to hire a principal with a Master’s by the fall of 1940. Roscoe could not complete his work by that time so he was relieved of his position at Ada.

Roscoe and Mabel were again facing the crisis of what to do. His father had died; therefore there was no reason to move back to Tescott. After looking into several opportunities in the teaching field and in business, without success, Roscoe and Mabel moved their growing family to the farm of her parents in Natoma, Kansas, where they farmed for one year.

Beginning in the fall of 1941, Roscoe began teaching at the Portis, Kansas, High School, as the science /math teacher and coach. He was a popular teacher and successful coach for one year. The Portis School Board wished Roscoe to return another year but the football coach/science teacher position opened in the Osborne, Kansas, High School system. After much soul searching and regret at leaving a fine small school system and a friendly community, Roscoe decided to take the Osborne position. Roscoe soon gave up the football coaching but remained as the science teacher with an occasional math class until his retirement from teaching in 1955. During the 1943/44 school year, Roscoe not only had to be coach of the football team but serve as band director as well.

In the spring of 1956, with the office of Osborne County Superintendent of Schools becoming vacant, Roscoe decided to run for the county position. He won that election and the next three elections also. He served the four terms as County Superintendent helping teachers to become better at their professions and to help instill a love of learning and reading in the students.

Roscoe decided that maybe a legislative job in Topeka representing the county would be interesting. He was elected for two terms as the Osborne County Representative in the Kansas House of Representatives. Although an educator all his life, it was ironic he was not assigned to the Education Committee. He could have added much to the state plans as the present redistricting was beginning to form when he served his two terms. He was assigned to the budget committee where he worked to have Kansans receive the most efficient use of their tax moneys. For this service and other leadership roles, he was presented the Governor’s Meritorious Award by then-Kansas Governor John Anderson.

After his serving in the legislature, Roscoe retired to enjoy to a fuller extent his recent hobby, playing golf. He played nearly every day with old and new friends. He could now be a more active member of the Rotary Club and the American Legion. Roscoe was an avid sports fan all his life; he played baseball in his early years, with the Tescott High School and summer sandlot teams. He had a knowledge of football, basketball, baseball and tennis both as a player and as a coach. Roscoe loved to fish. During their early married life Mabel fished with Roscoe, but as the family increased and grew Mabel did little or no fishing with her partner. Roscoe and Mabel probably knew every fishing hole on the Wakarusa River in eastern Kansas. Roscoe, with his son, Bob, fished in all rivers and creeks in the areas in which they lived. If Roscoe ever saw a snake near the water where they were fishing, there was no more fishing that day.
That Roscoe developed a musical ability to play almost any instrument and to sing in parts is remarkable for he had no formal training. His grandparents were very musical; his maternal grandfather led singing schools in Michigan and in Kansas. Roscoe with his brothers played for dances in Saline and Ottawa Counties during the early 1900s. Roscoe always sang in church choirs whenever he lived. He sang in Christ Episcopal Church choir while attending high school in Salina. He loved quartet singing, mixed or male, but he especially enjoyed choir work and he was a soloist of note. At Ada, he was the baritone of a male quartet that sang for many school, church and community functions. At Osborne he was well-known for his work in and with the Barbershoppers. He sang in a quartet called “Men of Note” with Olin McFadden, Frank Chalk and Gordon Bartholomew. They were a guest quartet at many concerts. They loved the competition of the Barbershoppers contests. Roscoe directed the Barbershoppers chorus for many years. All who listened or sang under his direction remember his exuberance in directing to bring out the best of the singers. Roscoe loved to work with plays and musicals. He was in his element while being, usually, an end man in the minstrels that were so popular in the 1930s and early 1940s. He did some directing of high school plays during his teaching years.

While at Kansas University, he earned a KU pin for each of the four years playing the “Double B” in the university band. These pins were equivalent to the athletic letter given for sports participation. In 1920 he purchased a new Conn alto saxophone. He played that for fun and entertainment at many musical functions. He was one of the prime movers when Bobby Dale of Bennington, Kansas, formed a community band at Ada. How Mabel kept her sanity during those years with her husband practicing his sousaphone, and each of the four children practicing their various instruments every evening, each playing a different song at the same time, is an amazing thought. Roscoe, with Homer Clark, directed the Osborne summer band concerts in the city park pavilion during the middle 1940s. If he did not direct he was a band member.

Roscoe took several summer workshops in physical therapy from Coach “Phog” Allen at Kansas University. He practiced many of these techniques to keep his players and other athletes in top physical condition. Roscoe was always very active in the Methodist Church wherever the family was living. He served in all aspects of church work–Sunday School teacher, Sunday School superintendent, Bible School leader, always a choir member, various committees of the church, and yes, even preaching. His religious thinking and attitudes were influenced by his maternal grandmother, Lydia Eaton. He was in church every Sunday and made sure his whole family worshipped with him. Roscoe, as a teacher, was a lover of learning. He was ever instilling in his students, his friends and his family to develop the desire to gain more knowledge. Books were a part of his every day life. He was a prolific reader on all subjects.

Roscoe was a gentle, kind man who lived the principles of Christ’s teachings. That meant that Roscoe expected the best from all. Each and everyone did just that to escape that stern look of his displeasure. His outlook on life was always positive with a smile and a cheery approach. In being introduced to his eldest daughter’s principal at Williamsport, Maryland, High School, she said that Roscoe had been in the education field for over fifty years. The principal remarked that Roscoe must have loved it because he could still smile after all those years. Roscoe loved to laugh and enjoyed a good joke. Yet Roscoe was a strong man who was not afraid to state his views, or to stand up for what was right, and still kept his integrity with the respect of others for him. He inspired everyone to live to one’s fullest and to the best in all aspects of life.

One of the toughest problems Roscoe faced when he moved to Osborne was to be known by his first name. In every other teaching community the teachers were known as Mr., Mrs., or Miss–never by their first names. But in Osborne it was a traditional sign of affection and acceptance to call a teacher by the first name.

It is very difficult for the family to separate Roscoe from Mabel or Mabel from Roscoe. They were a perfect pair, sharing fifty-five years of married life, raising four children, facing the economic uncertainties of the 1920s, 1930s, and early 1940s, to bring glory to their family, their friends, their communities where they lived but most of all glory to their God.

To quote from his obituary: “What is the measure of man? Micah says–loving kindness, doing justice, walking humbly with God.” These words typify the lifestyle of Roscoe J. Robinson. He died Sunday, November 16, 1974, at the Osborne County Memorial Hospital and was buried in the Natoma Cemetery. He is still talked of with reverence, love and respect by all who knew and loved him. — Written by daughter Helen (Robinson) Long, January 1996.

Adam Frederick Pohlman, Jr. – 2005 Inductee

When asked about retirement by a Kansas City reporter, [Coach Fred] Pohlman responded, “Why would I retire? I have the greatest job there is. I get to coach the game I love.”

Adam Frederick “Fred” Pohlman Jr., born in Natoma, Kansas on October 4, 1928, the son of Adam Frederick Sr. and Irene Pohlman.  He graduated from Fort Hays State College in 1950 and from there he moved on to the University of Missouri, where he received his masters degree in 1956, interrupted by four years in the United States Navy during the Korean War.  Fred was later a member of both American Legion Post 21 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1000.  He was a member of the Raytown Optimist and the Greater Kansas City Basketball Coaches Association, a charter member of the Family Life Center of Ascension Lutheran Church.

Pohlman’s coaching career began in Vandalia, Missouri in September of 1956, where he coached high school baseball, basketball and track.  From Vandalia, in 1959 he taught and coached basketball and cross country at Westport and Northeast high schools in Kansas City Missouri, until 1967 when he was hired to start the Penn Valley Community College men’s basketball program.

Fred remained the Penn Valley head coach for the next 32 years.  After two personal wins over cancer, a 67-year-old Pohlman took his underdog team to the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II tournament in 1996 and won the national title.  In other years his teams also placed 2nd, 3rd, and 5th in the national tournament.  Coach Pohlman’s teams won six Regional titles out of the last seven years he coached.

Fred passed away on December 8, 1999 at the Research Medical Center in Kansas City after a long battle with cancer.  He was laid to rest in the Floral Hills Cemetery in Kansas City.

 

*  *  *  *  *

 

Coach Fred Pohlman

© .Copyright Steve Ray January 21, 2000
(Penn Valley Community College player 1996-1997)

The music blared Queen’s “We are the Champions,” jovial players embraced and rejoiced as excited fans and family members spilled on to the floor, and Penn Valley Community College’s basketball coach Fred Pohlman stood in the middle of it all, a heavy dose of joy, relief, and exhaustion running through his veins after his team had captured the 1996 Junior College Division II National Championship. The following minutes were filled with congratulatory handshakes and pats on the back for the man who had dedicated so much of his life to meet this ultimate goal. In the midst of the euphoria, he triumphantly pointed to his wife Carol; after 34 years of close calls and near misses, on and off the floor, they tearfully realized that they had finally reached the summit. This was what they had been tirelessly working for since he started the program from scratch in metropolitan Kansas City in 1961. If it had simply been about winning a basketball game, it would have been a moment to celebrate, but the path that the 66 year-old Pohlman and his family had traveled to get here made the night something to cherish.

“It was such an emotional point for all of us. I was excited for him, but I was worried that it was all too much,” said his wife of 40 years, Carol. “I knew that this experience had been a long time in the making. It was his moment.”

“It is only when you have been through the valley that you can appreciate the top of the mountain.”

It was Carol’s nature to worry about her husband. He was too high-strung, too stubborn, and too competitive for his own good. But with all her loving concern all she could manage was an exasperated sigh of relief and amazement over what fate had offered her and her family. It had been almost seven months since Fred had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. For her, the cold clinical term of cancer equated to a death sentence for the father of her children and her life partner. While those thoughts filled her mind, she suddenly realized that the job he loved so much at PennValley might have come to an end in this doctor’s office. Carol had known Fred for well over 50 years, and throughout that time she came to discover that she may be his wife, but his passion was truly satisfied between 1 and 4 PM when the Scouts took the practice floor. Fred admits when he heard the news he was scared too, but leaving PennValley was never an option in his mind. So as he prepared himself for the battle of his lifetime not knowing what to expect, but he did make sure that the battleground didn’t interfere with the Scouts’ 1995-96 basketball campaign. Coach Pohlman scheduled chemotherapy treatments around practice times. He lost weight, couldn’t sleep, felt fatigued, and physically ached after the long, late night bus trips, but he refused to surrender to those who told him to take some time off.

In his younger days he would have been more maverick about the whole experience, refusing to admit that he hurt or was nervous. A younger Fred Pohlman would have simply and quietly endured and hoped that he could outwork the whole ordeal. But something had changed in him since his early days in coaching. He had mellowed, knew he wasn’t invincible and didn’t want to battle this disease alone. So coach Pohlman made sure he always had his friends and family close at hand, allowing them to travel with the team. He even made sure to appreciate his team more. He had coached over a thousand kids in his career, but none were more important to him than these 14. He stood before them as a coach and example of what fighting real adversity was all about. Carol stood by him the whole time and prayed that the team that was so special to him would keep him young forever. Now, in the afterglow of a championship, one fact is crystal clear. Fred and Carol Pohlman are proud parents of three children–a son Chuck, a daughter Diane, and a way of life called PennValley basketball.

“I think everyone who has ever been associated with PennValley could not have been happier for their achievement. There is a real stigma to junior colleges that the students here are somehow inferior. Fred never bought into that belief. He always taught his players to make the most of the opportunities in front of you. Coach has given so many opportunities to kids who may never get another chance. It was so nice to see that come full circle with the championship,” said former player and current Penn Valley Athletic Director Marcus Harvey.

“The only good excuse is the one not used.” The message is embroidered on a wooden paperweight that sits on the corner of his desk. He has built the PennValley program on these quotes and proverbs of morals and hard work. Everyday before practice, for over twenty-five years, his teams have heard these same stories and phrases, their coach determined to teach that the same skills that carry them on the basketball court can be translated to their everyday lives. This is coach Pohlman’s gift; he is a storyteller at heart, and he weaves these stories and sayings together into a cohesive lesson. His players muse that he is a walking, talking folktale.

“In 1974 we were on our way back from getting drubbed by 20 points down at Moberly Junior College. I was mad and frustrated, but on the way home I came upon a Reader’s Digest story about a boy’s determination after he lost a leg in a sledding accident. It put a lot of what I was feeling in perspective. The next day I read the story to the team,” said Pohlman. “The point I was trying to make is, no matter how bad we believe we have it, there are always those who have had to persevere through more.”

“Today’s preparations determine tomorrow’s achievements.”

“Coach Pohlman would never say a bad word about a player that he wouldn’t say to his face. Players really appreciate that about him. He demands a lot of respect just by walking in a room, but he is also willing to give that respect back. I just found that he was the type of person you wanted to work hard for,” said former player Brett Howell. “The whole time I played for him I never thought of him as some sort of legend or coaching genius, but I knew nobody wanted to win more than he did. I want to coach some day and I only hope that I can earn that kind of respect from my players.”

“Success is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.”

The enrollment at PennValley in those early days of the program was just over 800 students, a far cry from the 7,000 students of today. Along the way he has convinced kids from all over the Kansas City area and beyond to join his quest for a title. It has never been an easy sell, to convince players that their best choice for higher education is a practically anonymous small community college they have never heard of on the west side of Kansas City. When he was offered the job, he had just been fired as head high school coach of WestportHigh school. PennValley’s Gabe Brown convinced him to take the job. When he arrived, the college didn’t have a gym, and the team practiced at a local high school. He would state that, in those early days, “I was coach, manager, and team trainer. It was a real struggle early on. We had to have car washes just to afford uniforms. But it was worth the effort. We just kept working; eventually, it just became a part of my life.”

In the winter, he stalked the sidelines of cold, half-empty gyms in Missouri and Kansas, imploring his team to keep their hands up on defense. But in the spring, that intensity turned into a quieter but still determined tone, looking to secure his sophomores a spot in a four-year university.

“I tell these kids, when they come to play for me, that if they take care of business on and off the court, I will make sure they have a chance to continue their playing career,” said Pohlman. “I take that promise seriously; my kids sacrifice a lot. Whenever you have been around as long as I have, you get to know about every basketball coach in the country, and I will call them all if that is what it takes to make sure my guys get an opportunity.”

“Courage is not the absence of fear; it is the conquest of it.”

In the fall of 1999, the Penn Valley Scouts are again tracking up and down the court in the newly renamed Fred Pohlman auditorium in pre-season conditioning drills. The players desperately reach for the final line as the scoreboard clock races toward zero. In the background, seven crimson National Championship tournament banners hang from the rafters. There is little that has changed from previous years; players are hard at work and hopes are high to add a new banner to the collection. But for the first time in the 37-year life span of this program, Fred Pohlman is not on the sidelines imploring his players to push harder. In the early summer, weeks after he was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, doctors found that he had a cancerous growth on his brain. He has lost weight and his hair has fallen out from the chemotherapy. The outlook is not optimistic, but he again puts his faith in God and readies himself for another round with the imposing foe of disease. This time though, he knew it was finally time to pass the program on to someone else, so he put it in the only hands he could probably ever truly feel comfortable with, his assistant coach and son Chuck. He always thought of PennValley as a family business; now it has been passed down a generation.

“PennValley has been a part of our family. It is one reason why I never wanted another job, because I knew I could incorporate my family in the program. Chuck played for me, my daughter has helped out with stats for 15 years, and Carol has been there through it all,” said Pohlman.

“Even if you are on the right track, if you don’t keep moving you are bound to get run over.”

Pohlman has been credited for over 700 wins in his 37-year career, but that doesn’t begin to account for the influence he has had on a multitude of young men. He has coached for nearly four decades, and he has seen a number of changes in the game of basketball and the players he coached. But he still stands for the same ideals as the first day he took the job as a young coach. His coaching style has a lot less to do with strategy and much more to do with work ethic. It is a message that has translated to generations of players. Pohlman cringes at the popular notion that players today don’t want discipline; he sees them as craving it. He has continually preached that his athletes must believe in the principle that success is a fragile thing. In 1997, after his team had secured a return trip to the National Championship tournament with a victory in the State Regional, they loaded back on the bus to head home back to Kansas City. Upset by some disruptive behavior by his players in the back of the bus, he demanded the bus driver pull over on the side of the road. It was nearly midnight and they were still an hour from home. But there was a lesson to be taught; so, in the late night, the 14 members of Region 16 and defending National Championship team quietly began to run around an Amoco gas station. Nearly an hour later, the same group collapsed back into their seats. Sweaty and exhausted, they started back on the highway home with coach’s lesson securely understood; success is a process and not a destination.

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

Junior college basketball is a transitional brand of basketball. For many it is simply a collection of rejected kids who are not good enough or smart enough to make it in a four-year university. But it is in this bus-stop existence that coach Pohlman has built a livelihood. The impact he has had on the lives of so many young men in the span of two years they spend with him is in no small way remarkable. His joy is not in watching them go on to great basketball careers, but to see them become successful graduates and parents.

Followup notes: Fred Pohlman died of complications in response to the chemotherapy used to treat his brain cancer.  One of coach Pohlman’s final coaching requests was to bring back the members of the 1996 National Championship team for a benefit game to honor the renaming of Penn Valley Auditorium to A. Fred Pohlman Fieldhouse . . . the game was a sell-out.

In 2005 Fred Pohlman was inducted posthumously into the National Junior Collegiate Athletic Association Hall of Fame.  Fred’s coaching record at Penn Valley Community College over 32 years was 614-400.  A member of the Kansas City Coaches Association Hall of Fame and the Missouri State Sports Hall of Fame, Pohlman was the National Coach of the Year in 1995-1996 and the Region XVI Coach of the Year six times. The A. Fred Pohlman Sportsmanship Award is presented at the NJCAA Men’s Division II National Championship to the individual demonstrating the best sportsmanship.  A. Fred Pohlman will be remembered for his passion for the game and his contribution to Penn Valley.

Fred had a passion for the game of Junior College basketball. He helped so many youngsters succeed on the court at Penn Valley and in life in general,” said former coaching opponent Francis Flax. “His ability to relate to the players that he coached helped so many of them become successful in life.”

John H. Locke – 1996 Inductee

John H. Locke, “Johnnie” to all who knew him, was born on a homestead timber claim in Kill Creek Township, Osborne County, Kansas, on January 25, 1907, to Will and Tina (Hill) Locke. One of six children, he continued to work that farm until the time of his death on August 11, 1990. As a toddler Johnnie had been assigned the chore of going to the bottom of the hill to pump water and tote it back to the house. He progressed to milking two cows before breakfast and the mile walk to school. The work ethic was installed very early and remained with this man until the final few days of his life.

To many Mr. Locke was a basketball coach – and was he ever! However, this man was also a full-time teacher, farmer, family man, horse lover, and so much more. Locke loved the game of basketball early on. He played while in high school at Covert, Kansas, where at the start of his senior year of 1925-1926 the school district informed the basketball team that it could not afford to hire a head coach. As the lone senior, Johnnie went before the school board and asked if he could coach the team for the year. The board agreed and with Johnnie as player/coach the Covert boys team reached the state tournament in March 1926, the smallest school in Kansas history to do so. John graduated valedictorian of his class and attended then normal school at Hays, Kansas, which qualified him to teach at Star and Enterprise one-room country schools. He earned his degree in 1932 and became the principal at Covert Grade School, and three years later he was an instructor at Covert High School. In 1931 John married Bonnie Carlin and they had a baby girl, Lavetta. In Covert he coached both boys and girls basketball. Often he had only five boys that went out for basketball but they won and won, sometimes playing with only four boys when someone fouled out. Yet his Covert boys teams won 135 games and lost only 18 during his nine years there. Records for the Covert girls teams were not kept, or his win total would be even more.

Bonnie died in 1936 and two years later John married Wretha White. They had five sons and a daughter – Delwin, John, Ferryl, Leneal, Janelle and Marlin. In 1944 he moved his growing family to Natoma for a first stay of nineteen years in the school system. During that stint the boys’ basketball record stood at 401 wins and 87 losses. Back-to-back Kansas state championships were won by the boys’ team in 1958 and 1959. In 1963 he moved to Stockton and had more success there. In ten years his teams compiled a record of 115-84 and in 1966 the boys’ team reached the state championship finals. He returned to Natoma in 1973 and took both the girls’ and boys’ teams to the state Class 1A tournament in 1975. The girls took second place and the boys claimed Natoma’s third state basketball title, John’s 700th career win. He was named National High School Basketball Coach of the Year in 1976. and in 1977 the girls’ team took second at state again.

In 1979 John retired from coaching. During his second stint at Natoma his boys’ basketball teams compiled a record of 80 wins and 14 losses, putting Locke’s final coaching record at 731 wins and 203 losses over a forty-four year career. 1979 also saw John selected as an assistant coach for the All-Star McDonald’s team. In 1983 John was inducted into the Kansas State High School Activities Association Hall of Fame. The next year he was of the five inaugural inductees into the Kansas High School Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.

Locke also bred and raised quarterhorses on his farm southwest of Natoma and raced many of his horses in several states. After his retirement from teaching in 1979, he spent even more time with his horses. He raised cattle and did extensive farming, and was also an avid coyote hunter and had many coyote dogs. John Locke lies buried in the Natoma Cemetery.

The grave of John Locke in the Natoma Cemetery.

Kansas All-Sports Hall of Fame

John H. Locke
Inducted 1999
Born: January 25, 1907 – Osborne County, KS
Died: August 11, 1990
Graduated: Covert (KS) H.S. 1926; Fort Hays State University, 1932

Overview:  Johnnie Locke won 731 high school basketball games, more than any boys basketball coach in Kansas history, in his 44 seasons spanning five decades from 1933-1979. One of the five inaugural inductees into the Kansas Basketball Coaches’ Hall of Fame in 1984, Locke was named district and national high School Coach of the Year in 1976 and served as an assistant coach for the 1979 McDonald’s High School All-Star game.

Coaching Legend:  After helping his Covert High School of 1926 to the Class B State Tournament, he later returned to begin his coaching career at his alma mater from 1933-1944. Locke’s Covert teams won 135 games while losing only 18. From there, Locke moved to Natoma where he won 401 games in 19 seasons, won back-to back state titles in 1958 and 1959, and put together a string of 51 straight victories. In 1963, he moved to Stockton where he turned around a program by winning 115 games against 84 losses with two trips to the state tourney during his nine seasons. Locke returned to Natoma in 1973 and picked up where he left off with 80 wins against just 14 losses, including the undefeated state championship season in 1975. That same year, he also coached the Natoma Girls team to a 25-1 record as state runner-up. All totaled, John Locke won 731 games against only 203 losses (78.3 percent), won 14 sub-state titles and three state championships. Locke coached all five of his sons during his career.

David Gray Johnson – 1997 Inductee

Though naturally shy and reserved, a winning attitude and no-nonsense approach to teaching the basics enabled David Gray Johnson to not only become one of the winningest high school football coaches in Kansas history but also earn the respect and admiration of his peers and players throughout a forty-year teaching career.  The eighth of nine children born to Herbert F. and Sara Belle (Goldthwaite) Johnson, Dave, or “Big Dave” as he came to be affectionately known, was born May 20, 1927, in the New England town of Biddeford, York County, Maine.  In early 1945 he graduated from high school at Ipswich, Massachusetts, where in the fall of his senior year the football coach was drafted into the army, leaving the school without any coaches on the staff.  The school board decided to drop football, but Dave and another senior went before the board and convinced them to let Johnson coach the team, under the supervision of the math teacher.  They won three games and lost two in a season that was shortened due to gas rationing during the war then going on.

After high school Dave served his military obligation in the Navy training to be a pilot. While serving he attended classes at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.  On August 31, 1948, he married Betty Jean Slaight in Long Beach, California.  They had two children: Lucinda, born February 25, 1952, in Seward, Alaska, and Stephen, born January 16, 1954, in Nevada, Missouri.  After the military Dave entered the University of Kansas in Lawrence, where he graduated with honors in 1952.  For his graduate work he attended Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Dave’s first teaching position began in 1951 at Sheldon, Missouri, where he was also the assistant coach for basketball and baseball.  In 1955 he taught for a year at Moran, Kansas, and was the assistant coach for football and basketball.  He then moved to Frankfort, Kansas, where he took over as the high school football coach.  By stressing the football fundamentals of tackling, practice, blocking, practice, execution of plays, and more practice, his teams were an immediate and enduring success.  “His practices were harder than those we had at the University of Kansas,” one player recalled afterwards.  In his seven years at Frankfort the football team compiled a record of 48 wins, 14 losses, and four ties.

In 1963 Dave was named the new head football coach at Osborne, Kansas.  That summer he became the baseball coach and drove the nearly three-hour round trip from his farm near Kanopolis, Kansas, to Osborne several days a week for 7:30 a.m. practice, at his own expense, in order to get to know the boys better.  At Osborne he installed the Delaware wing offense he used throughout his coaching career and quickly turned the football team into a statewide power.  From 1964 through 1968 Osborne enjoyed a 35-game winning streak and were named the Class B state champions in 1967.  Another state championship was claimed in 1983, when the team won all thirteen of its games.  Off the football field Dave coached several other sports and taught science, math, social science, and physical education.  “Big Dave” never used headphones and called his own plays while pacing up and down the sidelines, clipboard in hand – a legendary sight to Osborne high school alumni.  After twenty-eight years at Osborne High School he retired with a coaching record of 154 wins, 85 losses, and three ties, his teams making the state football playoffs three times.  When he retired his 213 overall wins at the time placed him fifth in all-time wins among Kansas high school football coaches.

In 1969 Dave served on the Kansas State High School Activities Association Ad Hoc Committee that studied and recommended the implementation of a football playoff system for all high schools in Kansas.  In 1983 he was named All-Area Coach of the Year and was chosen as one of the coaches for the West team at the Kansas Shrine Bowl.  In 1989 Dave was named Teacher of the Year at Osborne and was a nominee for Teacher of the Year at the state level.  That same year an appreciation dinner was held in his honor in Osborne after the last game of the season.  Nearly two hundred former football players, former assistant coaches, family, and friends gathered to pay tribute to the coach who had influenced so many people on and off the field.  The capstone of his career came in February 1993 when he was inducted into the Kansas State High School Activities Association Hall of Fame.

In nominating Dave for the Kansas State High School Activities Association Hall of Fame, fellow football coach Steve Miller noted that the stories told of Johnson over the years were not only of winning football but also stories of getting athletes “to make commitments, demanding them to be positive role models, possess work ethics, and be punctual.  He taught them respect for adults, school, family, and country.” Dave led his players by example; he did not smoke, drink, or use profanity, and often became a parent to them.  “He kept me and about three other kids in my class out of jail,” remembered one player.  The words used by other players go a long way in describing their former coach:  tough; perfectionist; dedicated; intimidating; prepared.  Johnson himself described his philosophy of coaching this way: “I never worried so much about winning or losing as I did about helping those boys grow up to be men. That’s why I was so hard on them.”

After his retirement in 1991 Dave and his wife Betty moved permanently back to the family farm near Kanopolis, where he enjoyed a settled life in the country.  The days of “Big Dave” pacing the sidelines are over, but he will always hold a much-deserved place in the Osborne County Hall of Fame.

David Johnson died on December 15, 2014, at his home.  His final resting place was in the Kanopolis Cemetery at Kanopolis, Ellsworth County, Kansas.