Editor’s note: The Kansan asked its readers to tell us about amazing coaches in their lives. Here are their stories:

Lessons will remain

as time passes by

Not many athletes can say their coach has changed their diaper — but I can.

At the time, my coach, Kristin Wiebe was a young seventh-grader and my mom’s babysitter when I was a toddler.

Years later, I became a sixth-grader, and she was my youth group leader who made me eat baby food, once again (for a game, of course).

As a junior in high school at Berean, she became my basketball coach, and I learned more than just about the sport. She taught me basketball was not life, but it teaches us many things about life.

There are many words she said that continue to stay with me now that I am retired from organized athletics and I attend college and apply to daily work.

“Dot your i’s and cross your t’s,” (or finish your lay-ups and make your free throws). “If you’re gonna do it, do it right” is another statement that still crosses my mind as I work.

I had two of the most amazing seasons in my athletic career under Coach Kristin Wiebe. Now that I’ve graduated, she continues to encourage me and lend her advice when I need it.

— Abby Claassen,


Lesson from ‘dusty

infield’ still carries on

“You see what he’s got — now hit your pitch.”

Until that day, I had assumed the pitcher was trying to stop me, embarrass me, even hurt me.

As the ball hissed toward me I could make it mine.

Coach Rick Whitfield helped me understand it was my pitch!

“Come on, Dooter,” Coach would yell down the third base line. His left arm would come up into a “ready to hit” position then slash across his body, showing me for the thousandth time how to “throw your hands” at the ball.

Hit your pitch. He would clap twice and walk back into the corner of the coaches box, expecting me to take the best the pitcher offered and make it something for myself, the team, black and gold.

The game, and life, is filled with danger, threat, and chaos. Bulldogs and Salthawks lurk everywhere.

Coach Whitfield made me understand. Pitchers are there to serve. Hit your pitch and hit it with a vengeance.

That lesson, born in the dusty infield of Klein Scott Field, has taken me across the country and around the world.

I hit .410 that year, and NHS took third at state. Thanks, Coach Whitfield.

— M. John Dudte,

third base,

NHS 1979-1983

Coach taught through

words and actions

I hope I’m not paraphrasing to badly but, “few things in life you can leave a legacy. One is teaching and another is coaching.”

Coach Cameron mentioned this to me when he returned to become the Newton High School boys basketball coach last fall.

Coaching takes patience, knowledge, the ability to communicate, discipline, passion, commitment, intensity, faith and heart.

Looking back, at the time I was being coached, I really didn’t understand.

Today, 27 years later, I can see clearly what Coach was trying to teach for that short time.

Basketball was great, and it offered me so much in the years I played.

The life lessons Coach Cameron taught me I still carry. As a coach of youth sports, I remember how Coach spoke to us, and I try to mimic him, treating the kids I coach and teach the same way he did.

Coach wasn’t a screamer, never had an unkind word to say about anybody, never uttered a profanity, shared his faith with us through his words and actions, and all the while was incredibly intense.

He had a passion for teaching not only basketball, but also life.

I’m a better man today because of Coach Cameron, and I believe anybody who has ever been coached by him would agree.

Newton is so lucky to have Coach Cameron and his wife, Susan, back in Newton. I look forward to watching NHS basketball for years to come knowing win or lose, the kids will be taught how to not only be better basketball players, but also better people.

— Dane Lawrence

NHS class of ‘81 NHS

Dad best coach

kid could have

While I had some great coaches throughout my years of participating in sports, none have affected my life or taught me as much as the one who also shares the title of dad in my life.

Known as Coach Wiebe to most people, Lewis Wiebe was my track coach during high school, but he also coaches basketball.

He was one of my biggest encouragers during the time I played sports. If I was frustrated or discouraged after a game, he told me the positive things I had done and gave me something to work at to improve in my game.

He was willing to help me become better, whether it meant passing a volleyball with me or helping me better my shot in basketball.

My dad taught me to work hard, never to give up, to be positive, to be humble, and to make the most of each opportunity.

Some of these lessons I learned through things he said, but others were through the way he lives his life.

It is the Godly example he has set for me that will stand out far more than any championship game he may coach.

— Kara Wiebe

Men were father

figures, role models

Growing up in Newton, I was very fortunate and blessed to have not one, but many wonderful coaches who helped shape and mold me into the man I am today.

Their influence goes beyond the court or field as they were the father figure and role model I needed while being raised by a single mom.

All of these coaches were passionate about their sport. They were firm, yet encouraging; demanding, yet positive.

The confidence each of them showed in me is something I will always remember. They had different styles and personalities and some were more influential than others, yet every one of them had a lasting impact on my life.

I have been a coach and teacher for the past 18 years because of the example of these men:

• Larry Mathews — pee wee baseball coach

• Dwayne Kelsch — pee wee basketball coach

• Bob Graber — middle school/ninth-grade basketball coach

• Gordon Stineman — middle school football coach

• Mike Garland — ninth-grade basketball coach

• Ralph Malin — 10th-grade basketball coach

• Ron Capps— high school cross country coach

• Dave Deutschendorf — junior varsity basketball coach

• Richard Deschner — varsity basketball coach

• Gene Hanson — varsity basketball coach

• Phil Scott — varsity tennis coach

I will be forever grateful to these men for investing their time and effort into my life! They are great coaches and, more importantly, great men!

— David Piehler

Even cartwheels

teach a lesson

When people think back to their days on high school sports teams, most do not have memories of cartwheels.

However, my memories of a Newton High tennis coach and four tennis seasons involve cartwheels and many other life-forming memories.

I began playing varsity tennis my freshman year at NHS under the direction of Coach Hugh Grant Scott.

Mr. Scott is a learned man with much advice to give concerning history, politics, economics and tennis.

As my tennis coach, he encouraged me with many speeches that caused this young freshman to lose her focus. One time, Mr. Scott was giving a speech, and I decided I wanted to be “actively” listening.

As he was facing my teammates, I did a cartwheel behind his back. He finished debriefing us about the tournament the following day and then said something like: “Nice cartwheel, Goering, but what I want to see is an ace.”

Needless to say, I was on the court serving extra after practice.

Throughout high school, Mr. Scott remained a special coach and teacher to me. As a coach, he would stay extra to hit with me after practice.

Other memories include our trips to the Winfield hamburger joint and his tendency to blast classical music.

Thanks, Coach Scott, for teaching me how to work hard to achieve my goals and care for those around me.

— Liz Goering,

NHS class of ‘04

Man’s persistence

changes boy’s life

As a guy entering ninth grade, I was close to 260 pounds and had no athletic ability.

I went out for football and, by the end of the year, I was barely playing on the freshmen team.

That fall, my sister came home and said Coach Jeff Schultz was asking if I was going out for wrestling. This went on for a while due to my refusal.

Finally, I got tired of it and decided to go out.

After a few weeks. I started gaining more self-confidence, losing weight, and had better athleticism and agility. I eventually got down to wrestle at 215 pounds.

This one thing changed my life.

By my senior year, I was the starting tackle.

After high school, I played football at Tabor.

Today, I love exercising and have started running, and I’m very health conscience, as well.

This last year, I had motivation to lose another 30 pounds from running.

If it weren’t for him, I know I would not have played college football, as well as helping out with high school wrestling in Nebraska.

I just want to say thank you, Coach Schultz.

— Jeremy Hogan,

Hesston High School graduate living in


Coach helps keep

youth from ‘falling

through cracks’

I had several wonderful coaches while participating in sports in Newton. Clay Headrick was one of them. He coached my seventh- and eighth-grade girls basketball team.

He spent many hours with me, and my favorite memory of him was taking me to a KU basketball game.

I also have great memories and appreciation for Ron Capps and Ralph Mailn, who coached cross country, and Brad Cooper, who assisted girls basketball.

The coach I spent the most time with is a man I still I look up to today. Bob Graber, my high school basketball coach, inspired and motivated me not only by his words but his actions.

He devoted so much of his personal time to the team and worked hard during the season and off-season. I easily could have fallen through the cracks, but Coach Graber always had a word of encouragement for me.

I always wanted to do better because of him. I am thankful he was in my life!

— Chris Schultz (Sleefe)


‘They believed in me when I didn’t’

Three coaches inspired me and kept me focused. The three coaches I am writing of are Bob Graber, Max Roberts and Tony Sandate.

From the time I can remember, Max Roberts and Tony Sandate were my coaches. Some of my best memories are traveling for softball tournaments or basketball tournaments.

Our softball teams won some tournaments that surprised us all, but they never doubted us for one minute. I don’t remember either one of them ever criticizing a player.

They took the time to explain what we did wrong and how to remedy it.

Looking back, I think they were crazy to volunteer to be put in a position to coach 10 to 15 pre-teen girls. Whether they knew it or not, they taught me a lot more than sports.

It’s the way they never lost their patience. They allowed us to be giggly girls but somehow managed to get us focused long enough to win games and tournaments.

It was an honor for me to be able to grow up with them two being my coaches.

The third coach is Bob Graber. I was so excited to finally play basketball for him. Playing for him was like finally making it to the “show.”

Graber had a way of making me believe I was invincible. He always encouraged me to try and do better, which made me not want to fail or let him down.

What I learned from these three coaches went way beyond the field or the gym.

The lessons I learned from them have stuck with me throughout my life: Always try hard, don’t give up and believe in yourself. They always believed in me, even when I didn’t.

— Jodie (Musser) Beck,

Sutter, Calif.

Coaches’ influence

great for children

A big concern parents have are the people their children spend time with. Those who spend a lot of time and have so much influence on them are their coaches.

It is hoped these coaches are people who are good, moral, kind people who will have a good influence on the children they coach.

For the past six years, our son, who is a freshman in high school, has had a great football coach in Tony Johns.

From coaching third-grade Warrior football to middle school, Coach Johns has put in countless hours teaching our son and his teammates the great game of football.

The coach made learning, conditioning, practicing and playing so much fun. Winning championships didn’t hurt, either.

At the end of their sixth season, Coach Johns had a banquet for them and had a DVD made for each player, interviewing each player and showing everyone’s highlights. What a great gift.

Our youngest daughter, who is a senior in high school, has had a great soccer coach in Galen Anderson the past three years.

Coach Anderson is so great about communicating and involving the players’ parents. He talks to parents individually, letting them know their daughter’s progress and thanking them for their participation.

Our daughter also has a great, trustworthy helpful coach for cross country in Coach Richard Mick.

Our youngest son strongly disliked playing basketball in the past.

Thanks to the encouragement and invitation to play from our principal, he decided to play last winter.

Thanks to two great volunteer dads, Coach Mick and Coach Stuchlik, he had a great time learning the game and improving his basketball skills.

Our sons also went out for track last spring, and once again, great dads volunteered their time in coaching. Thanks to coaches Pete Torres, Mike Webb, Todd Loescher and last year’s coach, Jerry Pomeroy, our eighth grade son always placed in high jump, shot put, discus and the 200-meter race at Bishop Carroll High School.

Thank you to all our children’s great coaches!

— Monica and Michael Davis,


Sports scholarship

changed boy’s life

The coach who changed my life was the legendary Art Kahler, athletic director and football, basketball and track coach at Southwestern College.

Art was All-American in football at Southwestern College. His son, Dan Kahler, was All-American in basketball and football, playing in the All-Star East-West Game in Madison Square Garden in 1950.

Art had an article in a recent Kansas high school magazine about “Ripley’s Believe It or Not.” He coached two separate colleges in Carlisle, Pa. — Dickenson College in football and Brown College in basketball — going undefeated in football for the only time in school history. Art also played in a 1918 high school state championship team at Arkansas City, where he was born.

Art changed my life by giving me a basketball and track scholarship to Southwestern College and also giving me my nickname, which stays with me to this day.

In 1947, Art came to Ashland after I had won the state track championship in the 880-yard-run.

I would not have been able to attend college without that scholarship and, under Art’s tutelage, I placed third in the mile run with a 4:14.5 time and earned All-American Honors in 1950.

— Swede Osbourn,