Athletics Misc (1058)
Graduated from Columbus (Kan.) High School in 1966. Lettered in football and wrestling. Named All-Southeast Kansas League in football as a senior.
Enrolled at Baker in 1966 and became a four-year starter at center for the football team. Selected as a member of the honorable mention All-KCAC team as a junior and senior. Was a member of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity. Graduated in 1970 with a degree in physical education in 1980. Earned a master’s in secondary counseling from Pittsburg State University.
Began teaching and coaching career at Baldwin Elementary and served as assistant wrestling coach for two years and three additional years as head coach in the district.
During his 21-year coaching career, coached five state championship wrestling teams, five state runner-up wrestling teams, two third-place teams and 17 individual state champions. Overall record in dual meets was 237-71-2. His teams also won 33 invitational tournament titles.
Honors include: 4A Wrestling Coach of the Year four times, the state (All Classes) wrestling coach of the year two times, and the Region 5 wrestling coach of the year by the National High School Coaches Association in 1990.
Has served in numerous leadership positions with Kansas Wrestling Coaches Association, including a two-year stint as president. Also coordinated local, state and federal programs with Kansas Department of Education officials. Has served as the Chairman of the Columbus Sports Hall of Fame Committee and as a member of the Columbus Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.
Is married to Baker classmate, Barbara Roberts, ’70, and together they have a daughter, Ellen Lewis ’96.
Born in Benson, Ill. Began collegiate education at Southwestern College in Kansas. Transferred to and received B.S. degree in physical education in 1928 from Northwestern University. Did postgraduate work in physical education at the University of Colorado and later at the Teachers College of Columbia University, where she received an M.A. degree in 1938 in health and physical education.
Began her teaching career in 1928 in health and physical education at the Senior High School of Muskogee, Okla. One year later accepted the position of supervisor of health and physical education for the Public School District of Wellington, Kan.
Served in two additional positions in health and physical education in Kansas and Texas from 1935 to 1943 before accepting the position of head of the department of Health and Physical Education at Meredith College in Raleigh, N.C.
In 1954, was hired by former Baker Dean Benjamin A. Gessner as assistant professor of physical education. Remained a member of the faculty and directed programs in health and woman’s athletics for the next 20 years. Was recognized for having greatly improved the University’s athletic offerings in swimming, rhythmics, body mechanics, recreational activities and dance. Designed, organized and sponsored all activities of the Woman’s Athletic Association (W.A.A) at a time prior to intercollegiate competition for women's athletics at Baker.
Spent many summers involved in church related activities and educational circles, conducting workshops in and experimenting with interpretation through movement with special emphasis on the use of religious music and the scriptures. In 1970, authored a book, “Worship With Words and Movement.”
Additionally served the Wesleyan Service Guild in positions of leadership in North Carolina and Kansas. Served as chairman of the sub-committee on folk songs and dances for the National Commission on Inter-American Understanding and as president of the North Carolina Association for Health, Physical Education and Recreation.
Retired from teaching at Baker in the spring of 1973. Designated as Professor Emeritus of Physical Education. The former dance studio in Memorial Hall (Mabee Hall) was dedicated in her honor in 1973.
Attended New Iberia Senior High School in New Iberia, La., where he played football and baseball. Was selected to the all-conference football team as a junior. Played on the school’s 4A state championship baseball teams in 1982 and 1983 and was selected to the 1983 all-conference and all-state baseball teams.
Attended Eastern Arizona Junior College for three semesters in 1983-1984 and participated in football and baseball.
Transferred to Baker in the spring of 1984 in time to play on Dan Harris’ Wildcat baseball team. Known for his quickness, speed and defense, LaFrance was selected to the all-conference baseball squad three years at Baker.
In the fall of 1984 became an immediate starter at wide receiver for head football coach Charlie Richard. Played two years and was selected to the all-conference team in 1985 and 1986. Helped the Wildcats reach their first ever NAIA Division II national championship football game in 1986. In that game against Linfield of Oregon, set a school, conference and national record for recording seven pass receptions for 93 yards in a single half.
Following his outstanding athletic achievements in college, signed a professional contract to play for the Detroit Drive of the fledgling Arena Football League. Spent the 1988-1993 seasons with Detroit, helping it win ArenaBowl titles in 1988-1990 and again in 1992. Missed the 1990 season with a torn ACL.
Was traded in 1994 to the Tampa Bay Storm, where he played from 1994 to 1999. In 1998, caught 65 passes, including 35 for touchdowns (53.8 percent) – a record unrivaled at any level of collegiate or professional football.
In 2000, moved on to play with the New Jersey Red Dogs. Became the first Arena Football League player and second pro football (Walter Payton was the first) to compile 20,000 career all-purpose yards. In his final game as a player, he recorded 14 kickoff returns and 397 all-purpose yards that rank second in that statistic in AFL history
During the 12 years of his active playing career, helped his teams win five ArenaBowl Championships while playing in three more.
Was selected the MVP of three ArenaBowl games, was twice named League MVP and holds numerous league statistical records. Is generally regarded as the greatest player in Arena Football League history.
In 2001, served as offensive consultant for the Rochester Brigade and in 2002 was hired as the general manager of the San Diego Riptide.
For several of the past years, when not involved in the Arena Football season, teaches high school math and coaches sports on a Native American Reservation in the Chinle (Arizona) Unified School District.
Is married to Darlene and has two daughters, Ahaski and Nizhoni.
Charles L. Mansfield
Attended high school at Clinton (Mo.) High School. Lettered one year in track and three years in football and basketball. Received honorable mention for the all-state basketball squad as a senior.
Enrolled at Baker in the fall of 1957. Was a four-year letterman in football and was named to an all-conference team three times. Earned two additional letters in basketball. Member of the Zeta Chi fraternity and held offices of president, vice president and pledge trainer. Served as an officer of the University’s B Club. Graduated in 1961.
Taught and coached football, basketball and track in 1961-1963 at Oswego High School. The football team won the league title in 1962 and he led the basketball team to the state tournament in 1962. Both the ’62 and ’63 track teams won league.
Returned to school at Kansas University in 1963 and earned a master’s degree in education in 1964. He also served as assistant football coach at Baker.
Taught and coached at Claflin High School in 1964-65, where he served as head basketball coach, assistant football coach and track coach.
Accepted an offer to serve as principal, teacher and coach at Baldwin High School for 1965. Served as assistant football and track coach and head coach in basketball.
In 1966, returned to Baker, serving as assistant football coach for nine years, head track coach for one year, head baseball coach for two years and head basketball coach until 1975.
From 1975 to 1979 served as principal at Cheney High School. From 1979 to 1980 served as principal at Garnett High School, moving on to serve as assistant superintendent at Clay Center USD 379 until 2000.
After formally retiring, accepted a one-year appointment as the elementary principal at Valley Heights due to an illness to the principal.
Currently works part time for the Southeast Regional Education Service Center at Greenbush as a community liaison and establishing drop-out recovery programs. Also works with McPherson & Jacobson, an executive recruiting and development company doing searches for school district superintendents.
Served on several boards, committees and an educational task force on school finance. Additionally was asked to make numerous presentations to educational conferences throughout the region.
Married to Sylvia and has three children, Adam, Megan and Mark.
Cecil O. Pryor
Graduated from Fredonia High School in 1925. Member of the National Honor Society and voted “Most Popular” by senior classmates. A four-year letterman in track and football. He was selected captain of the football team and chosen to the all-conference team in basketball as a senior. Set a school record in the 100-yard dash (10.1 seconds) that stood for 45 years. Held the state record in the 220-low hurdles and placed first in that event at the Kansas Relays in 1925.
Enrolled at Baker in the fall of 1925. Earned three letters in football and track. Played halfback on the football team and was the team’s leading ground gainer as a senior. In track ran both the low and high hurdles. Was elected president of the “B Club” and was a member of the Zeta Chi fraternity. Graduated with a degree in biology in 1929. Earned a master’s degree in physical education from the State University of Iowa in 1939.
Began his coaching career at Corning (Kansas) High School, coaching football, basketball and track from 1929 to 1932. During these years led the football team to a combined record of 23-3-1 and the basketball team to a record of 34-18, including a visit to the school’s first ever state basketball tournament. His track team of 1931 won the Baker Relays.
In 1932 accepted a teaching and coaching position at Fredonia (Kansas) High School. Coached there until his death in 1967. Began as an assistant coach in both football and basketall and later head coach of both sports. Was the head track coach during his entire career at Fredonia.
During the years his teams won numerous district and regional titles and his individual student/athletes won dozens of individual honors and awards and set long-standing state records in track and field events.
In 1939 established the Fredonia Relays. In 1949, his team won the Kansas State Track title and in 1962, was chosen Master Teacher by the Fredonia Teachers Association.
Both the athletic field in Fredonia and a traveling trophy at the Fredonia Relays for the two-mile run event have been named in his honor and memory.
One of the original honorees inducted into the Kansas State High School Activities Association Hall of Fame on March 22, 1975.
Was married to Agnes Lamoreaux and together they had two sons, Richard Dean Pryor and Billy Max Pryor.
Attended Iola High School in Iola, Kansas. Participated in and earned six letters in football and track. During summers, played American Legion baseball.
Enrolled at Baker in the fall of 1968 and became an immediate starter for the Wildcat football squad. During his four years at Baker played linebacker and defensive end on defense, center and running back on offense and place kicker. Lettered all four years at Baker.
Lettered four years as a member of the Wildcat track team. Participated in the high jump and won conference in that event. Threw the discus, shot put and javelin. Held the school record for a short time in the javelin. Ran the 220-yard dash, the 100-yard dash and participated as a member of the 440-yard relay team with a best time of 42.6 seconds, a school record that stands to this day. Participated in the decathlon at the Kansas Relays.
On campus was a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity and participated in intramural basketball.
About halfway through his senior football season, assistant football coach Charlie Mansfield convinced head coach Jim Irick to try him at running back against Missouri Valley. In the game, Wright led all rushers with 154 yards. During his career was named the Wildcats’ most valuable player, team co-captain and was selected to several all-conference teams. After his senior campaign was named an NAIA.All-American. The Baker Orange presented Wright its first ever “Athlete-of-the-Year” Award for 1971-1972.
Following graduation from Baker with a Bachelor of Science degree in physical education had a free-agent tryout with the Kansas City Chiefs of the NFL. Signed a free-agent contract and went to training camp in 1972 with the Chiefs as a running back.
Career has been in farming and raising, training and showing horses. In 1987 purchased a facility in Ottawa and along with his wife formed a business to train Western Performance Horses. In this enterprise, has trained and shown many horses in the National Reining Horse Association, where he won the NRHA National Derby in 2001 and 2002, competing against over 200 riders. Was the NRHA Futurity Reserve Champion two consecutive years, co-champion at the Quarter Horse Congress Reining futurity and has trained and shown Custom Pistol, the highest money-earning horse in NRHA history.
Married to Janet Robinson Wright, ’72, and together they have one son, Tod.
Attended high school at Osawatomie, Kansas, from 1951 to 1955. Participated in football, basketball and track. In football, lettered all four years and was named all-conference in his junior and senior years. Lettered three years in basketball and was named to the all-conference team as a senior. Lettered three years as a member of the track team.
Enrolled at Baker in the fall of 1955 and made an immediate impact on the football team. Went on to play and letter all four years. Was named a member of the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference all-conference team as a junior and senior and as a member of the NAIA All-American second team after his senior campaign, helping the Wildcats to the conference championship that year. Participated as a member of the varsity track team as a sophomore and intramural basketball for four years. Member of the University’s “B” Club. Graduated with a degree in social studies and physical education.
Following teaching stints in the elementary school of Linwood, Kansas, and the high school in Overbrook, Kansas, enrolled at the University of Kansas and worked as an instructor in the Reading and Study Skills Laboratory while he completed work on two additional degrees, an Ed.S., and an Educational Doctorate that was conferred in 1967.
In his career, served as an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, from 1969 to 1972; as associate professor of special education at the George Peabody College for Teachers in Nashville, Tenn., from 1972 to 1976, and in 1976 was named professor of special education and served at George Peabody until 1990.
He retired in 2002 as the senior scientist from the University of Kansas’ affiliated program at the Schiefelbusch Institute of Life Span Studies in Parsons, Kansas, where he was an honorary professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Life of the Department of Special Education.
Served in numerous administrative roles in the field of higher education, won fifteen separate grants for studies in his field, maintained several professional affiliations in organizations within his field, authored or co-authored an impressive number of articles for books and journals in his field of study, and was widely sought after as a speaker. In this regard, delivered some 45 separate major presentations to scholarly meetings.
Additionally was presented with a Leadership Award for lifetime contributions to the education of children with EBD, and the Outstanding Service Award from the Midwest Symposium for Leadership in Behavior Disorders. Had the annual award to the Outstanding Graduate Student in Teacher Preparation at the Special Education Department of Vanderbilt University named in his honor.
Emmalie Gessner Cowherd
Earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Baker with a cumulative 3.98 grade-point average. Ranked No. 1 in graduating class and was a member of Alpha Delta Sigma, a national honorary society. On campus, was a member of the Delta Delta Delta sorority and served as its president. Prior to intercollegiate sports, participated in a wide array of campus athletic competition and was voted the Outstanding Woman Athlete Award as a senior. Served as an officer of the junior class, as vice president of Panhellenic and as president of the Women’s Athletic Association. Was awarded the A.A.U.W. award for Outstanding Senior Woman.
Began teaching and coaching career at Baldwin High School. Taught psychology, general science, health and physical education. Served as pep club and junior class sponsor.
Continued teaching and coaching at Amity Regional Senior High School, Woodbridge, Conn. Taught general biology, human physiology and physical education. Coached basketball, synchronized swimming and softball. The 1966 softball team was undefeated.
Returned to Baker to teach and coach in 1976. Teaching responsibilities included first aid, swimming and softball. Chief responsibilities included organizing and coaching the University’s first intercollegiate varsity and junior varsity programs in softball and basketball. Recruited all athletes, developed the teams' schedules and purchased all associated equipment and uniforms. Coached the basketball team from 1976 to 1978 and the softball team in 1976-1983. The 1981 softball team went to National A.I.A.W. (Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women) tournament and finished ninth in the nation for Division III. The 1982 team went to the same tournament and finished third in the nation.
Additionally taught swimming in a number of capacities and places for 34 years. Was a certified water safety instructor and a water safety instructor trainer. Certified to teach C.P.R.
Served as a member of the University’s Alumni Board of Directors for six years.
Currently serves as business manager for Cowherd & Sons Farms, Carrollton, Mo.
Married to Clifton R. Cowherd. Has four sons, Benjamin Gessner Polen ’89, Dallas Allen Polen III ’91, Johnathan Alan Cowherd and Andrew Michael Cowherd.
Dennis began playing and loving the game of golf at the early age of three. He had his first hole-in-one at Santa Fe Hills Country Club at age eight.
He graduated in 1964 from Center High School, where he lettered in golf for the Center High team and won the conference medalist honors two years. At age 17 he was the runner-up in the Kansas City Golf Association’s Junior Championship Tournament. In that same year, he qualified to represent Kansas and Missouri in the U.S.G.A. National Junior Golf Tournament that was held in Florence, S.C. In 1967, Dennis tied for Missouri Amateur Medalist at Blue Hills Country Club.
He enrolled at Baker in the fall of 1964 and played four years on the golf team for Coach Karl Spear. In 1967, he had the University’s first hole-in-one during a competitive round against Park College and Ottawa University. Baker won that tournament and he was a medalist. He lettered and represented Baker at the NAIA National Golf Tournament all four years. During his senior year he was the Kansas Conference and NAIA District Champion. He also assisted Coach Spear in teaching golf which was offered as a class to fulfill the University’s physical education requirement.
On campus Dennis was a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and served as president his junior year. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and sociology in 1968.
Following graduation he has devoted his career to golf and currently serves as President/CEO of Smiley’s Golf Complex in Lenexa, Kansas. Additionally he has developed an international reputation for golf course and entertainment complex design. Through his career, he played with some of the most widely recognized names in amateur and professional golf, including Tom Watson, Greg Norman, Raymond Floyd, Lee Trevino, Dave Barr, Patty Berg, Mike Reid, Bob Tway, Calvin Peete and Gary Halberg. To this day he continues to play golf and competitive tennis.
He is active in his local church and has served as a volunteer leader there for several years.
He is married to Judy and has three children, Jeannine, Julie and Jeff, from a previous marriage.
Attended Oak Grove High School in Oak Grove, Missouri. Wrestled, participated in track and played football where he was a starter and leader on offense. In 1985, only three years after graduating, his football jersey (No. 35) was retired.
Was recruited to Baker by Coach Charlie Richard. Played all four years as a member of the Wildcat varsity squad. Was selected to the all-conference offensive team as a running back as a sophomore, junior and senior and was the conference’s offensive player of the year in 1984 and 1985. Selected to the first-team all-district team after his junior and senior years. In 1985, after his senior year, was selected an NAIA first-team All-American, an NAIA academic All-American and was Baker’s first Kodak All-American.
Established numerous University records and achieved significant recognition for his outstanding play:
Having the most 100-yard rushing games in a single season at Baker with nine…Having the most 200-yard rushing games in a career at Baker with four…Set the single season rushing record in 1985 with 1,775 yards — averaging 178.8 yards per game…Holds the Baker record for 19 games in which he rushed for 100 or more yards, including 12 straight games in which he gained 100 yards…Had 3 of the top 10 highest yardage games in University history…Carried the ball 522 times during career for a record 3,704 yards and an average of 7.1 yards per carry…Carried the ball 28 times and gained 306 yards against Missouri Valley on October 12, 1985. This established both a school record which still stands and an NAIA record at the time…was named the NAIA national offensive player of the week after that game…In 1985 was named the most valuable player of the Sunflower Bowl after breaking three bowl records for touchdowns, total rushing and total yards…
Has taught biology and physical education and coached on the high school level in Missouri at Jefferson City High School and Eldon for the past 14 years. While at Eldon, he was selected as the school’s district coach of the year in 1993. In 2004 was selected as the teacher of the year at Eldon High School.
Met his wife, the former Suzanne Stafford, fs ’88, in 1984. They have three children, Erin, Hayden, and Reagan