It’s close to the 11th
hour for creating a blog and have it ready to launch tomorrow. When that
happens, I go to something up close and nearby. Today, that will be the 2013
induction ceremony at the Kansas State Sports Hall of Fame in Wichita that took place last
night. (My husband is a former inductee and currently chairman of the board. I
have an “in”.)
I think I can make last night’s event work as a blog by pulling up a few really good stories that will be added to the 219 athletes who’ve previously been received into the Hall. These are all athletes, coaches, or contributors who have a direct connection to Kansas—either raised in Kansas or performed their feats within the state.
Let me start with Martin Gramatica, a kicker who played football at Kansas State University under Coach Bill Snyder. He was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and didn’t play football until his senior year in high school before coming to KSU. Picture this: It’s near the end of the first half of a 1998 KSU game against Northern Illinois. Martin trots to the field and smacks a 65-yard record field goal, the only one in NCAA history without the use of a kicking tee. Sixty-five yards. Imagine that. More than one-half the distance of an entire football field in one kick. He went on to play professional football with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for ten seasons and wracked up a career kicking extra points for an astounding percentage of 99.1%. Wouldn’t that be a fun story to write? Think about the photographs or illustrations!
Then there was Chuck Broyles from a mysterious place in Kansas called Mulberry, where he played eight-man football. He made a mark for himself playing football at Pittsburg State when he signed on as a student assistant, assistant, and head coach at a couple of high schools before he returned to Pitt State and duplicated the same career track. He loves the game and likes to win, but his real fun was with his players as they did their best on the field. What impressed me was his Pitt State coaching record: 198-47-2 for a .826 winning percentage. He retired with the best win record at Pitt State and in his college division. He had fun.
I’ll finish with an outstanding basketball player who was raised in Clay Center, Kansas, a few miles from my hometown. Her outstanding athleticism became obvious in high school where she earned eleven varsity letters in volleyball, track, and basketball. Named All-State basketball player during her sophomore, junior, and senior years is only the beginning of her honors. She captured the 4B state high jump title as a senior in 2000 with a leap of 5’- 6”. While at KSU, she scored a record 2,241 points and snatched 995 rebounds. Following her stellar career at Kansas State, she played seven seasons with Women’s National Basketball teams—the Minnesota Lynx, the Tulsa Shock, and the Phoenix Mercury before playing multiple seasons in several European countries. Her number three uniform was retired by Kansas State following her last game at the school in 2004. Nicole Ohlde is her name, and yes, she’s tall.
Highlighting three athlete’s or coach’s stories seems enough, but I want to resurrect one more most interesting KSHOF record before closing out. Art Schabinger from Sabetha, Kansas, one of six who conceived and organized the National Association of Basketball Coaches, wrote its constitution and bylaws, and organized and conducted the Olympic Basketball Tournament in 1936 when the first U.S. Olympic Team was chosen, did something even more noteworthy (to me at least). At the College of Emporia in 1910, he is credited with throwing the first forward pass in college football history for a 17-0 victory over Washburn. Does this mean that no one had thought to throw the football forward? My patient husband says, “Not necessarily, but the game was primarily run on the ground before Schabinger introduced the passing game.”
Point of this treatise? (1) To share some interesting stories and (2) issue a warning to watch out for Kansans.