|1982||A. R. Willie Gilbert||1983||L.D. Weldon|
|1984||Bruce Jenner||1985||Betty L. Welch|
|1985||Richard A. Carter||1986||Gerald E. Hampton|
|1986||Rich Simmons||1987||Howard Brunner|
|1987||William E. Dudek||1988||Dennis Thompson|
|1988||Merle R. Harmon Sr.||1988||Jim L. Rae|
|1989||Linda L. Rowe||1989||J.D. Turner|
|1989||Kenneth C. Cochran||1990||Jack W. Eskridge|
|1990||Thomas L. Powell||1991||Jack Scott|
|1992||L.R. "Rod" Schall||1993||Elmo "Doc" Gamet|
|1994||Ralph Strait||1994||Julie (Wendt) Carver|
|1995||Jerry Sherman||1995||Connie Spinks|
|1995||Sydney Bingham||1995||Dr. Gary Collins|
|1996||Wendi (Simmons) Raatjes||1996||Gary D. Sage|
|1997||Russel Bruch||1997||Erwin "E" Houser|
|1997||Jennie (Howard) Joyce||1998||Robert A. Dever|
|1998||Dr. Barney C. Parker||1998||Gay L. Hughes|
|1999||Jim Braby||2000||Jeff Criswell|
|2002||Clayton Henry||2002||Pam Parkhurst Nichols|
|2003||Tom Nowlin||2003||Phyllis O'Daniels|
|2004||Dr. Hal McKain||2004||Charlie Seefeldt|
|2005||Rich Harrop||2006||Jeff Douglas|
|2007||Jackie Allen (Egger)||2007||Stew McDole|
|2008||William Floyd Ayers||2008||Stan Rupe|
|2008||Kristy Feldman||2009||Tom McCracken|
|2009||Dr. Robert Hutchins||2009||Casey Dudek|
|2009||Michelle Acosta||2010||Dan Hanton|
|2010||Alphie Fulton||2010||Darrell Frain|
|2011||Dava (Nelson) Laxton||2011||Mark Martin|
|2011||William Gray||2012||Darrick Jones|
|2012||Teri (Wessel) Rexroth||2012||Russel "Russ" Harney|
|2013||Christel Olsen||2013||Russell "Russ" Hampton|
|2014||Dr. Clarence "C.R." Auxier||2014||Verneda Thomas|
A.R. "Willie Gilbert was born in Weility, Kansas, in 1899. He began coaching at Graceland in 1922, and worked at the college until 1944, including four years as the dean and acting President. Initially Gilbert only coached football, but in 1926 added basketball, tennis and track and field, all of Graceland's varsity sports at the time, to his duties. Graceland's football games were played at North Park and the bean field by the Administration Building was used for practice. Gilbert signed a personal note for lights for the field. The lights went up thirty minutes before the first night game.
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Former Graceland athlete, Athletic Director and track and cross country coach, L.D. Weldon is noted for coaching former world record holders Tim Moore and Jack Humphrey (high hurdles) and Jack Maugers (pole vault); Mike Mattox, U.S. Federation Decathlon Champion; Joe Rateste, holder of the National Junior College record in the high hurdles; and Dave Bahr, Bob Hutchins and Bruce Jenner, national decathlon champions. Two of his decathletes won Olympic medals-Jack Parker, a bronze in 1936, and Bruce Jenner, a gold on 1976. Weldon's teams won 11 out of 13 Missouri Conference Athletic Union and HAAC Championships. A graduate of the University of Iowa, Weldon himself was captain of the Iowa track team and a two-time winner in the javelin at the Drake and Kansas relays. He joined the Graceland Staff in 1959 and retired in 1973, faculty emeritus. In 1970, he was inducted into the Helms Hall of Fame.
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Decathlete Bruce Jenner began his "Run for the Gold" as a high school athlete, then trained under Graceland coach L.D. Weldon. In April 1972, he met the Olympic qualifying standard at the Drake Relays and finished 10th in the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. He graduated from Graceland in 1973. In the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games he won gold medal and set a world record with 8,618 points in the decathlon. His mark stood as the world record until 1980, and as the Olympic record from 1976-1984. Since then he has established himself as a highly respected sports commentator, television personality, actor, producer, commercial spokesperson, auto racer, and as a dedicated supporter of organizations such as the Special Olympics and American Diabetes Association.
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Betty L. Welch is the first woman named to the Graceland Athletic Hall of Fame. She Holds an M.S. in physical education from the University of Colorado, and from 1951 to 1958, taught physical education in elementary and secondary schools in the Midwest. In 1959 she began her Graceland career as an instructor of physical education for women at Graceland. She coached women's teams in field hockey, basketball, softball, tennis and track. From 1966 to 1978, she served as coordinator of the Graceland department of health and physical education. From 1973 to 1978 she was coordinator of women's intercollegiate athletics and in 1978 served as athletic director. In 1979 she chaired the division of health and education. Welch retired in 1985, faculty emerita.
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Dr. Richard A. Carter ('37) is a former coach, division chairperson, intramural director and instructor of health physical education and recreation. His numerous achievements in the field of health, physical education and recreation, coupled with his lifelong dedication to helping young people develop physically, mentally and spiritually have earned him the honor and respect of those whose lives he has touched. Dr. Carter's career at Graceland spanned 1946-60, during which time he coached varsity tennis and football; was head coach of basketball and track and field; and served as athletic director and chair of the health, physical education and recreation department. He now serves as professor of physical education at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia.
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Gerald E. "Jerry" Hampton received his A.A in 1952 from Graceland. He lettered in football, basketball, track and golf as received All-State honors in football as a quarterback. He returned to Graceland in 1960, after earning his B.A., M.S. ED., and Ed.D. He has coached football, wrestling, track, tennis and golf and served as athletic director, chair of the division of health and education and coordinator of the department of physical education. In addition, he has developed high school and college leader of NAIA/AAU wrestlers and trips to Japan and Korea. He was named District 15 Wrestling Coach of the Year twice, and 1986 District 15 Tennis Coach of the Year.
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Charles Richard starred as a track athlete at Graceland. From 1959-64, he broke records in the 100, 200, and 440 yard dashes and in the 880-yard run. As a member of the Graceland College mile relay team in 1959, he helped established a record of 3:21.9 that stood unbroken for 11 years. His 440 time of 46.9 in 1961 was the fastest ever run by an Iowa College or University student.
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Raised on a Kansas farm, Howard Brunner spent every opportunity playing on town athletic teams. Later, in the U.S. Army, he played football while stationed in Germany. While there, he was in charge of golf, swimming, archery, and boating facilities. He then worked as a salesperson before coming to Lamoni in 1970. As official head trainer and manager of Clossen Center, and "unofficial" counselor to Graceland athletes, Brunner become knows as a dedicated "Coach of All Sports." He attended to the emotional as well as the physical needs of the players. In his first 17 years at Graceland he worked with 3,500 athletes, 340 student workers and 25 coaches. In all, Brunner has given Graceland over 49,000 hours of his time and energy.
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William "Duke" Dudek, a 1965 graduate holds Graceland record of 13 varsity letters in football, basketball, baseball, and track. He received his M.A. in physical education from Northeast Missouri State University in 1972. He joined the Graceland faculty in 1967 as assistant coach for four sports and became head football coach in 1974. He was head baseball coach for nine years. Dudek set all current four-year coaching records, including most wins in a single season and in a four-year period, most career victories, and most winning seasons. Dudek has been nationally active in NAIA, serving on the National Ranking Committee, as chair of the National Playoff Games Committee, and as NAIA District 15 Football chairman. Dudek has been honored as District 15 Baseball Coach of the Year, and HAAC and NAIA District 15 Football Coach of the Year.
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Dennis Paul Thompson is a life-long resident of Lamoni and is currently the co-owner and manager of a local farm related business. He began his football career with the Lamoni High school "Demons," where he played both offense and defense and received many athletic honors. He attended Graceland from 1976 to 1980 and earned his B.A. in business administration. In college, he lettered all four years, was named Most Valuable Lineman twice, received the Doc Hughes Award in 1977 and was named to HAAC All-Conference and NAIA District 15 All-District teams three times. He was First Team All-American Offensive Tackle for the NAIA. Thompson remained active with the Yellowjackets and was assistant offensive line coach from 1980-1982.
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Merle Harmon received his A.A. from Graceland in 1947, and his B.A. in radio and television broadcasting and marketing from the University of Denver in 1949. He was the third recipient of the NAIA Outstanding Alumnus Award. Harmon is in his 40th year of covering major sporting events on both radio and television. He has broadcast over 1,000 football gamed, 2,000 basketball games, and 5,000 major league baseball games. He is currently the voice of the Texas Rangers. His 26 years of network television broadcasting includes the World Series, Super Bowl, NCAA Basketball and Track and Field Championships, AIAW Swimming and Diving Championships, Winter Olympics, the Major League All-Star Game, and many bowl games. He founded Merle Harmon's Fan Fair a nationwide chain of over 100 sports gift shops.
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As a Graceland student Jim Rae excelled in academics, varsity basketball and golf. He received the gold Seal, Graceland's highest academic honor, when he graduated in 1962. He set many practical records, including 286 consecutive free throws (four-year average 99%) and 499 jump shots in a row from the head of the circle. He earned his master's in biology and PhD in physiology and biophysics from Michigan State University. Then he joined the faculty at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston where he began his career in eye research. He is now professor of physiology, biophysics and ophthalmology at the Mayo Foundation in Rochester, Minnesota. Dr. Rae is one of a select few outstanding investigators in biomedical to receive the MERIT Award from the National Institutes of health.
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Linda Louise Rowe graduated from Graceland in 1976 with a B.A. in health, physical education and recreation. At Graceland, she competed in field hockey, basketball, track and softball. She served as captain of the basketball team and was selected twice to play on the Iowa College Field Hockey Team. She participated in two National Track Championships. In the first, she finished fifth in the discus, and in the second championship placed third in the discus, this in the javelin and fifth in the shot put. She also narrowly missed the Olympic trials. She is still athletically active and has won twelve medals in the first three years of the Iowa Games. She also runs in many 5k and 10k races.
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John David Turner graduated from Graceland in 1964. He has since become very active in the Professional Golf Association (PGA). Five-time Iowa Open Champion, turner holds 13 major Iowa championships. He was also named Iowa Section PGA Champion in 1986, Iowa Player of the Year, and Golf Professional of the Year by PGA in 1989. He has served as president of the Nebraska Section, has been delegate to the annual meetings of the PGA and has served on various professional gold committees. He has conducted professional golf workshops for various golf clubs and for non-profit organizations.
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Ken Cochran, a 1952 Graceland graduate, competed in Yellojacket football, basketball and tennis. In 1956, Cochran served as starting catcher on the United Olympic Baseball Team. He has continued to participate in athletics by coaching baseball and basketball at the high school and college levels inn Missouri and Kansas. In 1983, he was inducted into the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. Cochran was also named to the Kansas Wesleyan Hall of Fame. As coach at Marymount College, he achieved a record of 285 wins, 56 losses in eleven seasons.
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Jack Eskridge was an outstanding athlete for the Yellowjackets from 1941-1943. An end on the gridiron and post player on the court, he excelled at both sports. After college, he served in the Marines where he was a player and coach for the "Camp Caitlin Bulldogs" who boasted a 37-1 record. He then set a school record at the University of Kansas by scoring 30 points in one half against Nebraska. After playing two years of professional basketball for he NBA's Chicago Stags and Indianapolis Jets, he returned to KU where he served as assistant basketball coach during Wilt Chamberlain's college career. Eskridge was later named equipment manager and purchasing agent for the Dallas Cowboys football team, a position he held for 13 years. He continued this career as a successful high school athletic director, football and basketball coach.
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Tom Powell graduated from Graceland in 1973 with a B.A. in health, physical education and recreation. As a Yellowjacket he was named All-American in football and baseball, and won the Rawlings "Big Stick" Award as one of the top three hitters in American Collegiate Baseball. He played semi-pro football with the Iowa Nighthawks and the Colorado Nuggets, and worked out with the Dallas Cowboys. In baseball he tried out with the Reds and the Royals, and got draft offers from the Seattle Pilots. In each of his five years as head football coach at Fairview High School in Colorado, his team took first and second place conference finishes, and went to the state championships. His high school football coaching record was 69-8-1; baseball 228-61. In 1980 he retuned to Graceland as head of the varsity baseball program and offensive coordinator for football. As Graceland's director of athletics and vice president for student affairs has overseen major renovations in athletics and other areas of campus.
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Jack Scott enrolled at Graceland in 1947, starred as a running back and receiver in football, and ran the 100, 220 and relays in track. He later played professional baseball for three years with the St. Louis Organization. Scott then moved into coaching. His Willow Lake, South Dakota, High School tams had a two-year 18-1-1 record in football and a 52-30 record in basketball. From 1961-1969 he was head football coach at Westmar College where he compiled a 60-17-3 record. His 1968 team was undefeated. He won five consecutive conference championships and remains the winningest football coach in Westmar history. Eastern New Mexico University was his next stop, and his teams were ranked in the NAIA Top 20 for four consecutive years. His overall college coaching record is 94-52-5; his career record is 141-56-6.
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L.R "Rod" Schall was a 1950 graduate of Graceland College. Since 1967, Rod has served as Graceland Men's Volleyball Head Coach and has established a lifetime winning record of 833 wins to a mere 400 losses giving him a .676 percentage. Rod has coached the Yellowjackets to NAIA Men's Nationals Championships in 1973, 1976, and 1979. During both 1976 and 1979 Rod was honored as NAIA Coach of the Year. Graceland was the undisputed champion of the North Central intercollegiate Volleyball Association Co-Championships from 1975 to 1985 under Rod's coaching. Rod also was NCIVAC Coach of the Year in 1977 and every year between 1983. Rod is also known for helping volleyball technologically with his computer know-how. He developed software called SPORTISTIS, to more efficiently keep track of sports static's. His statically abilities certified his as a USVBA National Volleyball Scorekeeper in 1986 Rod's abilities have located him abroad in the world of volleyball. He has taken part in volleyball activities in Bulgaria, Japan, and Italy and other countries. He was also participated in events such as the Goodwill Games, the Pan-American Games and the U.S. Olympic Festival.
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Elmo Gamet is the 1993 inductee into the Yellowjackets Athletic Hall of Fame. Gamet has been active with Graceland athletics throughout his adult life. His Graceland career began during his time as a student at Graceland in 1926-29 as a pre-med major. As a result of his performance as a baseball pitcher, he was recruited in both football and basketball under Coach Willie Gilbert. Teammates of Elmo were L.D. Weldon and Johnny Tophman. Gamet was also active in other campus activities by serving as business manager for the Acacia in 1929. Doctor Elmo Gamet decided to purse his interest in the medical field and served as Graceland physician from 1939 until 1974 and as the Yellowjacket football team physician from 1970 until retirement in 1980. "Doc" Gamet and his wife, Bernice, have two children: James and Onalee.
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Julie (Wendt) Carver earned honors in three sports as a Graceland athlete. In volleyball, she stared as a freshman; received All-Conference, All-District, and All-Tournament honors the next three years; and finished her senior year with an All-American nomination on a team the placed ninth in the nation. Carver added softball to her schedule during her sophomore year, earning All-Conference honors for her outstanding second base performance. She was a four-year starter and leading scorer in basketball, sinking her 1000th point on February 6, 1986. Her major was physical education and health and in 1987 she graduated from Graceland with a B.A. She taught physical education in Grandview, Texas from 1987 to 1989, played on the U.S. Air Force traveling basketball team 1988-89; and since 1989 has been teaching at Holden Missouri, High School where she coaches volleyball and assists with basketball and track.
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Ralph L. Strait made the news as a star runner at Lincoln High School in Portland, Oregon. In the state meet his senior year, he ran the mile in 4:26.7 to beat Dyrol Burleson, an extremely tough competitor who later broke the four-minute mile. Strait ran the third fastest high school mile in the nation in 1957, with a time of 4:21.7 in the Oregon A.A.U meet. After serving two years in the navy, he was back in the headlines as Graceland track and cross country star, setting conference records in the ½ mile, mile, and two-mile. His mile record of 4:11 still stands as a Graceland record. One of the most outstanding performances was in the 1962 Graceland Relays. He ran in four events for a total of three mile, winning the mile at 4:15.2 and anchoring three winning relay events. He received his B.A. from Graceland in 1965 with a major in elementary education. In 1967, he added a second major in physical education. Strait, who taught at Lamoni Elementary School was killed in a small plane crash on March 3, 1972.
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Syd came to Graceland College in 1984, from Stamford, Connecticut, and made an immediate and lasting impact on the football team. As a freshman he started at inside linebackers and was named a second team All-District 15 and a second Team Heart of America Athletic Conference selection. Bingham showed great skill and exceptional leadership ability's a freshman and was elected by his teammates to serve as defensive captain in his sophomore year. As a sophomore Syd led the team in tackles and was named first team All-District, and first team All-HAAC at linebacker. Syd again anchored Graceland's defensive attack as a junior captain. Leading the team in tackles and recording three interceptions, one for a touchdown, he was a unanimous choice to both the All-District 15 and the All-HAAC teams. He was further honored his junior year by being selected Heart of America Conference Most Valuable Player and Honorable Mention NAIA All-American (Division II). During Syd's football career at Graceland he amassed 464 tackles, 6 interceptions, 3 fumbles recoveries, 10 forced fumbles, and 3 sacks. To match all of Sydney's athletic accolades, he added class both off and on the field. Sydney Bingham maintained high standards of personal conduct and served many teammates and peers as an excellent role model. Bingham graduated from Graceland College in 1989 with a B.A. in business Administration.
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Connie played football for Graceland College from 1975 through 1978. As a defensive end, he was a first team All-Conference and All-District '15' selection for three years (1976-78). He was also a first team All-American defensive selection his junior and senior years. As a junior, Spinks served as team captain and was named Most Valuable Defensive Player leading the team in sacks and tackles that year. As a competitor he has the reputation of being greatly respected by his teammates, as well as his opponents, due to his likeable personality. Connie received his B.A. in Social Work from Graceland in 1979. Spinks works for Cotton Wood Mental Health in Galesburg, Ill. He is has six children (Courtney, Carinea, Caprica, Conner, Cameron and Cole). Connie is an active member of his community as a volunteer with the Galesburg Literacy Coalition as well as the Galesburg Leadership group.
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Gary entered Graceland College in 1958 with no high school football or wrestling experience. He would earn eleven varsity letters from Graceland: three football, four wrestling and four track. Collins was honored as an All-Conference football player his junior year. He also was a two time All-American wrestler, winning second place in the NAIA national wrestling tournament, as a junior and third place is senior year. Gary won numerous medals as a member of relay teams anchored by Hall of Fame member Rich Simmons. Dr. Collins graduated from Graceland College in 1963 with a B.A. in Education, majoring in Physical Education with a minor in Mathematics and Science. He went on to obtain a PhD from the University of Utah in 1972. Collins was an assistant at Ottawa University in Kansas, from 1971 to 1972 and at Graceland College from 1974 to 1978. Both teams won the Heart of America Conference Championships. Dr. Collins coached wrestling at Northwest Missouri State University from 1965-1970 and again from 1978 to 1985. At NWMSU he coached many All-Americans including two NCAA Division II national champions and won several team conference championships. Gary has been teaching at NWMSU since 1976 as an associate professor in the physical education department, and is also the director of the college fitness center.
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Jerry Sherman graduated from Graceland College and Central Missouri State College with a B.S. degree in Business Administration. Mr. Sherman served as a pilot for the U.S Navy and for TWA. He retired from TWA after 20 years of service. Following a four-year term as the Executive Vice-President (1988-1992) of the United States Volleyball Association, Jerry's involvement in volleyball culminated when he was elected President in 1992. His four-year term includes the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. Previous to his tenure as President, Jerry held many roles, which contributed greatly to the success of the USVBA. Past responsibilities included: Co-Chairman of the National Referees Association; Director of Minor Officials at the 1984 Olympics; Head of Delegation of the 1988 and 1994 Goodwill games. Sherman has received numerous honors including the National Leader in Volleyball Award in 1977, the USAV Referees Golden Whistle Award in 1970, the Referee Emeritus Award in 1988, and USA Volleyball's highest honor the Frier Award in 1994. Jerry is only the 24th person in the USA Volleyball's 67 year history to be honored with this prestigious award. Jerry and his wife Celia own an antique shop and furniture refinishing business in Independence, MO.
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Wendi (Simmons) Raatjes attended Graceland College from 1987 to 1991 where she enjoyed a very illustrious career in both volleyball and track and field. Wendi was a member of the Yellojacket women's volleyball team from 1987 to 1990. In her senior year, Wendi was an All-Conference selection as well as an All-District 15 selection. However, it was as a member of the Yellowjacket track and field team where Wendi's accomplishments will go down in the Graceland College record books. Wendi was named to the Heart of America Athletic Conference All-Conference team in both indoor and outdoor track each of her four years from 1988 to 1991. An unprecedented seven time All-American in both indoor and outdoor track, Wendi was a four time NAIA National Champion. In 1989, Wendi was the national champion is the 400 meter hurdles. And she accomplished the feat again in the 400 meter hurdles as well as becoming the national champion in the Long Jump and Heptathlon in 1990. Wendi's outstanding performance in 1990 earned her the honor being named the Most Outstanding Female Athlete for the National Meet. Since Wendi graduated from Graceland College in 1991 her athletic achievements have continued. She qualified for the U.S Track and Field Championships four separate years: 1990, 1993, and 1994 in the Long Jump and 1993, 1994, 1995 in the Heptathlon. In 1996, Wendi qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials in the Heptathlon and recorded a seventh place finish with 6,078 points.
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Gary Sage was a member of the football and wrestling teams from 1960 to 1964. He earned four letters in football and wrestling as well as a letter in track in 1963. As a member of the Yellowjacket football team, Gary was as All-Conference selection in 1963 and 1964, and was named to the 1964 All-American Team as an honorable mention selection. As a Co-Captain of the team in 1964, Gary finished the season ninth in the nation in rushing. Gary also received great success on the wrestling mat as well. In 1962, he finished third in the nation (NAIA) in the 177 pound class and he was second in the nation in the 191 pound class in 1963. Upon graduation from Graceland College in 1964, Gary taught and coached at Lee's Summit High School in Missouri. In his 30 year tenure, Gary established a wrestling program, and served as a coach for wrestling, football, and track and field teams. Gary was named District Coach of the Year in 1972 for his work with the wrestling program at Lee's Summit. He also earned a M.S. from Central Missouri State University in 1972. Gary and his wife Alta have two children, Alicia and Greg.
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Jennie (Howard) Joyce began her career at Graceland College in 1986 as the only freshman on the varsity team. That year the Yellowjackets finished ninth at the national tournament. Jennie's accolades were numerous. She earned All-Tournament honors on several occasions, including the "Big G" and the Graceland Challenge. In her junior year, 1989, Jennie earned All-Heart Of America Athletic Conference First Team, All-District #15 First Team, and All-Region First Team and NAIA All-American Second Team honors. She was also recognized during that campaign as District #15 Player of the Week and as a Russell Athletic All-American Second Team member. Overcoming a season-ending foot injury, the senior lead the Yellowjackets as a captain. Jennie's performance was not hampered, however. She was the HAAC Player of the week two times and District #15 Player of the Week once. Also with this were All-HAAC First Team, All-District #15 First Team, All-Region First Team, and NAIA All-American Third Team titles. Jennie finished here final year ranked 2nd in the nation in passes per game (7.55) and 10th in service aces per game (.639) Jennie was the honorable distinction of being Graceland Volleyball's first two-time All-American Athlete. A 1991 graduate, Jennie received a Bachelor of Arts degree in physical education and health. Jenny currently serves as the head volleyball coach at Saint Mary's College in South Bend, Indiana. Mrs. Joyce and her husband, Tom, have one daughter, Alyssa. Jennie proclaims that one of her greatest accomplishments is becoming a mother and wife. Her hobbies include serving as a coach with the United States of America Volleyball Junior program, managing the Louisville Volleyball Center, and volleyball camp director at Saint Mary's College.
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Russell Bruch earned a total of 13 varsity letters at Graceland College from 1978 to 1982. As a quarterback on the football team he tallied four letters. In 1981 he finished third in the nation in individual total offence with 259.8 yards per game and third in the nation in individual passing offence averaging 258 yards an outing. Bruch's accolades began his junior year when he was an All-Heart of America Conference quarterback. As a senior, her earned All-district 15, All-Heart of America Conference and Honorable Mention All-American honors. Russell Holds the football school record for total passing yards (6,356), career passing touchdowns (6), total touchdowns (67), total passing yards in a season (2,580), completion percentage in a season (57.4%; 159-277) and passing touchdowns in a season (27). Russell was also a four-year letter winner in basketball and baseball. He lettered in indoor track one year and placed second at the conference pole vault. Russell received a Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration in 1982 from Graceland, and completed his M.B.A at Rockhurst College in 1991. His academic accomplishments at Graceland include placement on both the Dean's and President's lists and include in Who's Who In American College and Universities. Russell serves as senior systems programmer at allied signal in Blue Springs, Missouri. He and his wife Robin have one son, Nathan Robert.
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Erwin "E" Houser attended Graceland from 1974-1977 and played football and baseball each year. In baseball, Erwin was an All-District 15 selection for four years, All-Heart of America Conference First Team selection for three years, and second team selection for one year. He was also named to the Graceland baseball team's Most Valuable Player in 1974 and 1977. In his senior year, 1977, "E" peaked his collegiate career by being named Honorable Mention All-American. In the spring of 1974, he finished his freshman season third in the nation in home runs with 13, sparking an eventual 40 home runs throughout his Graceland career. Following graduation he was a member of the Cincinnati Red's minor league baseball Class A team in Texas for one year. Erwin also excelled in football, earning All-Heart of America Conference Honorable mention honors his sophomore year. "E" graduated in 1977 with a degree in health, physical education and recreation and a minor in social work. Erwin was also an active member of the Black Student Union for four years at Graceland. Erwin's hobbies include spending time with his children, providing guidance counseling to high school students, and outdoor activities. He has aspirations if running a shelter for abused women and children in the future. Erwin and his wife, Shelly Kent-Houser (Graceland, 1977), live in Fairfield, Connecticut where he has been employed with Federal Express since 1985. They have two children, Andrea Jamal (A.J.) and Jasmine Chanson.
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Bob Dever attended Graceland from 1967-1971 excelling in both Cross-Country and Wrestling. As a four-year member of "Weldon's Warriors", Graceland's cross-country team. Dever was a member of three conference championship teams and finished second in Graceland's one-two finish at the 1970 MCAU Conference Championships. In addition, Dever was a very successful wrestler. He won both Graceland and Northwest Missouri State Tournaments at the 115lbs. weight class and the MCAU Conference Championship at 123lbs. Dever was most successful wrestling at the 118 lbs. weight class. He captured four Wheaton College Invitational Championships, where he was named outstanding wrestler in 1971 as well as the Southwest Missouri State and 1997 NAIA Iowa District Championships. Dever capped off an outstanding career by finishing second at the 1971 NAIA National Tournament and earning a place on the NAIA All-American Team. Dever continues to be successful athletically. In 1998, he earned the Gold Medal in the 45-29 age division at the Kansas City Corporate Challenge.
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Gay Hughes earned a degree in physical education from Graceland in 1971. Voted the "Most Athletic girl" in high school. Hughes began the pattern of developing Female Athletic Programs. While at Graceland, Hughes captained the field hockey team and was very active in the Women's Recreation Association. Gay was the organization's president during her junior and senior years. Upon leaving Graceland, Hughes taught Junior High School Physical Education in her hometown of Torrington, WY before moving to Berthound, CO where she started both school's girl's sports programs, coaching volleyball, basketball, and track. Coach Hughes also coached volleyball and assisted basketball at Central, Wyoming College, before coaching volleyball at Riverton Middle School. One season her "A" and "B" team earned a combined record of 40-0. (It should be noted that those same payers went on to earn the Wyoming State 4A Championship at seniors.) In 1994, Coach Hughes retired from coaching after 23 years. She continues to be an active member of the Riverton Kiwanis and Wyoming Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, having served on the Executive Board as the VP for Health and as the 1997 State Convention Manager. Gay Hughes, husband Mike and son Drew continues to live in Riverton, WY.
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Dr. Barney C. Parker attended Graceland College from 1952-1953 and 1956-1958 interrupted by military service during the Korean War. Parker was a starting two-way lineman earning accolades for his stellar play. As a member of the 1952 and 1953 Interstate Football Conference Champions, Parker was named to the All-Conference Team in both season and in 1953 was named to the Junior College All-American Team. Upon his discharge from the U.S. Army, Parker returned to Graceland in the spring of 1956 to complete his AA degree. With his wife, Phyllis and sons, David and Mark, Barnet gave up a scholarship to the University of Kansas and retuned to Graceland, which had become a four-year institution. In 1957, Parker was elected co-captain and earned NAIA All-American Honorable Mention. Parker also captained Graceland's Tennis Team ands was the 1956 Junior College Interstate Conference Singles runner-up and 1958 Graceland Relay Singles and Doubles Champion. Dr. Barney Parker has continued his success off the field. Earning his Masters in Education and Education Doctorate in administration from the University of Missouri, Barnet has been identified among the top 100 educators in the nation for the years 1987, 1990 and 1993 and was Idaho Superintendent of the Year in 1900. In 1994, Dr. Parker was presented the Graceland College Alumni Association Distinguished Service Award.
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Jim Braby received his AA Degree from Graceland College in 1949. As a student/athlete at Graceland, he earned six letter, two each in football, basketball and track. As a sophomore, he was First Team All-Conference in the Interstate Conference in football. He received additional honors in football being named Small College All-American as a quarterback. Following the Iowa Junior College Basketball Tournament in 1949, he received All-State honors. In 1975, he joined the Graceland Football Staff as a volunteer coach during which time he has coached quarterbacks, running backs, tight ends and wide receivers. At the conclusion on the 1999 season, and 24 years in this volunteer capacity, he stated it was time to step down and turn his position in the football staff to a younger coach.
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Jeff grew up in the small town of Searsboro, Iowa (population 164). He came to Graceland in 1982 and was a 4-year starter for the Yellowjackets as an offensive lineman. While at Graceland, Jeff earned All-American honors before graduating in 1986 with a BA degree in Education. Although he played 3 games with the Indianapolis Colts in 1987, it was in 1988 that Jeff truly succeeded in his quest for the NFL. In that year, Jeff signed a 1-year contract with the New York Jets-making him the first Graceland graduate to play in the NFL. During his 8 years with the Jets, Jeff started 104 of 108 games played and was named to the USA Today's All-Underrated team. While in New your, Jeff maintained his small town values and worked for a variety of charitable organizations. He formed "O-Line Limited", a charitable marketing firm and initiated the "Boomer's Body Guards" campaign to benefit Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. In 1995, Jeff signed with the Kansas City Chiefs where he played until his retirement in 1999.
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The love of Clayton Henry's life aside from his family has been mathematics, baseball and basketball. While in high school, Clayton was a substitute player on a very successful basketball team in Salina, Kan. But at Graceland, Clayton blossomed into a quality performer who was the only freshman starter on a title contending Yellowjacket team under Head Coach Willie Gilbert. Employed as an adjunct math instructor at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, Clayton was exposed first hand to Indiana High School Basketball as an assistant coach to Rex Rudicel. Before leaving teaching and coaching to work for the RAND Corporation, where he helped develop and program a computerized air defense system for the U.S. Air Force in the mid 1950's, Clayton accepted a position at Wyandotte High School in Kansas City, Kansas. Clayton co-coached the Wyandotte Basketball Team to the Kansas State Championship. Having exited the business world, Clayton returned to teaching and coaching in the Shawnee Mission Schools of Kansas City, Kansas as an assistant for 3 years at East H.S. and head coach at West H.S for four years in the highly competitive Sunflower League Conference before moving to Lamoni to become a teacher and coach at Graceland for the last eighteen years of his professional life. Clayton began his basketball coaching at Graceland in 1966. His successful recruiting efforts in the Kansas City area high schools paid dividends when the team was crowned Co-Champions of the Conference. While at Graceland, Clayton also coached baseball for three years with assistant William Dudek. In their third year, the team won fifteen of their sixteen conference games as well as the conference title.
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Pam was born in Leon, Iowa and attended Grand Valley High School where she excelled in basketball, softball and track and field. It was obvious to those that knew her, that Pam possessed the mental and physical skills, which would allow her continued success at the collegiate level. When Pam came to Graceland in 1977, her impact was immediate as a standout in basketball under Head Coach Jean McKinze. During her four-year tenure on the team, she amassed a school record career point total of 1872 and received multiple All-Conference Honors for her efforts. She was a consistent team leader in scoring and rebounding. When the spring season rolled around, Pam kept herself plenty occupied shuttling between the softball field where she played first base for coach Judy Sanken and the track where she threw the shot put. Pam was a solid contributor at each. In her second year at Graceland, Pam combined her basketball quickness, keen eye at the plate and shot put strength to become a dominate player on the Graceland Field Hockey Team coached by Graceland Hall of Fame Coach Betty Welch. In 1979, Pam's second year ever having played the sport, the team scored a record 42 goals-19 of which were credited to Pam. After departing from Graceland in the spring of 1981, Pam taught school in Mercer, Missouri. Now married to Kelly Nichols and teaching elementary school in the Norwalk, Iowa school system, Pam and her three sons live in her birth place town of Grand River, Iowa.
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Tom Nowlin coached five sports in more than 41 years while working at Graceland University. Nowlin was the first wrestling coach at Graceland and was the head coach of baseball, tennis and track while serving as an assistant football coach throughout his tenure with the Yellowjackets. His men's track team won numerous Heart of America Athletic Conference championships. Coach Nowlin is committed to the idea at Graceland that emphasizes the importance of classroom performance before athletics. He influenced student-athletes to become a total person both on and off the competition field. Dr. Nowlin is decorated with higher education degrees, including an EdD. from the University of Northern Colorado, a M.S. from Indiana University, a B.S. from Pepperdine College, and an A.A. from Ventura Junior College.
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Phyllis O'Daniels is a strong supporter of the total athletic program at Graceland University. She graduated from Graceland College in 1965 with a degree in Physical Education and Biology. As a student before the days of varsity women's athletic teams, Phyllis was a member of the WRA All-Star teams in four sports, including field hockey, basketball, volleyball and softball. For her many accomplishments on these teams, Phyllis was awarded with the Graceland Seal for Athletics in May of 1965. After attaining higher education degrees from Indiana University, Phyllis returned to Lamoni in 1986 to work for her alma mater. Phyllis currently works as the Faculty Athletics Representative to the NAIA, a job she began in 1988. O'Daniels was awarded the Charles Morris Award as the NAIA Administrator of the Year for 2000-2001. In addition, she is presently the Faculty Athletics Representative and Eligibility Chair for the Heart of America Athletic Conference, Region V Eligibility Chair, and a member of the National Coordinating Council of the NAIA.
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Hal McKain takes pride in his four-year coaching career and his financial contributions to Graceland. From 1962-1966, Hal was an interim coach for the Yellowjacket tennis, basketball and football programs. The 1965 and 1966 co-ed tennis team was undefeated in conference play and won the conference tournament. Hal, who has a deep passion for the Community of Christ, conducted prayers before practices and games for all of his athletic teams. Hal is a 1952 graduate of Graceland and played fullback on the football team and threw the javelin in track. His monetary donation to help construct the McKain tennis courts has made the Yellowjacket facilities some of the best in the conference. He also established an endowment for campus ministries, has established an annuity and makes yearly donations to Graceland's Lamoni campus. In 1987 the alumni board granted McKain the Graceland Award of Recognition for exhibiting outstanding loyalty and devotion with gifts of time, talent and resources. He also directed the swim meet for Graceland Spectacular for 30 consecutive years." After leaving Graceland, McKain was a coach and teacher at the University Northern Colorado from 1966-88. At UNC, McKain's tennis, swimming and diving teams produced many consecutive conference titles.
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Charlie Seefeldt was a remarkable defensive player for the Yellowjacket football team from 1980-1983. Charlie's career began with the Outstanding Defensive Freshman Award, and ended in May of 1984 when "Chaz" was awarded the Graceland College Certificate of Athletic Achievement for Outstanding Performance in Football. Throughout his career, Seefeldt was a two-time NAIA All-American, District 15 linebacker and first team all-conference player. Seefeldt is best known around the football department for his game on September 18, 1982, when he had 17 tackles, nine take downs, three interceptions, three fumble recoveries, two sacks and two knockdowns. For this performance, the NAIA recognized Seefeldt with national player of the week honors. In his junior year, Chaz received the Doc Hughes Defensive Player of the Game award for his stellar execution in the 1982 homecoming football game. Both his junior and senior years, Seefeldt was recognized as the team's most valuable player. Seefeldt was the Best Defensive Lineman on the District 15 Championship team, and was the Most Valuable Linebacker and a team captain for the squad his senior year. Throughout his career, Seefeldt scored six defensive touchdowns.
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Rich Harrop's collegiate athletic career started at Graceland in 1961. He earned 13 varsity letters in basketball, football, baseball and track. As a basketball player in college, Rich was a two-time first team all-conference selection whose name appears throughout Graceland's all-time records lists. Rich's high point game was 41, then a school record, and he graduated with 1411 points, the school's career scoring record at the time. In track, Harrop threw the javelin for a conference record 192 feet. As a senior, he was awarded the silver seal for excellence in athletic achievements. Rich came back to Graceland in 1990 to coach the men's basketball team following his 25 years at the high school level, including 13 seasons at Watkins Memorial in Pataskala, Ohio and 12 years at Lamoni High School in Iowa. In his second year as the head coach at Graceland, Harrop was selected as the 1991-92 Heart of America conference "Coach of the Year". Rich amassed a career coaching record of 509-467 in his 40 years of coaching including a Graceland coaching record of 160-298, and has had teams that were ranked nationally. Harrop graduated from Graceland College in 1965 with a degree in physical education and health and a minor in biology.
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Jeff Douglas had an outstanding career both as an athlete and a coach at Graceland. He earned four letters in baseball and football. In baseball, he was a two-time All-District and All-Heart of America Athletic Conference selection. As a junior , the Yellowjackets set the school record for victories with 27. In football, during the 1983 season, he was ranked second in the country in interceptions. He was All-HAAC first team, all-district and All-American. From 1987 to 2000, he was an assistant coach for the football team. He won 233 games in 11 years (1990-2000) as the head baseball coach. During his tenure he produced 17 all-conference performers as well as being named the HAAC Coach of the Year in 1999. Three of his players- Shad Fish, Bill Maier and Chris Randall- went on to play professional baseball. Douglas has also spent time as the head coach of baseball and girl's basketball at I-35 High School in Truro, Iowa. He has won over 300 bgames in baseball, is a two-time Southwest Iowa Class 2A coach of the year and led I-35 to their first ever state playoff appearance in 2004.
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Stewart Lynn McDole, always known as Stew to students and colleagues alike, entered Graceland as a student in the Fall of 1961. He was a member of the 1965 graduating class with teacher certifications in Social Studies and Physical Education. He received the Graceland Silver Seal for student life. In a pre-volleyball era tennis was his varsity sport under Hall of Fame Coach, Dr. Hal McKain. Indiana-Bloomington was the next stop on the academic trail where he completed a Master's (1967) and ultimately a Doctorate (1977) in Recreation Administration and Leisure Studies. Indiana played in the only varsity collegiate volleyball conference in the Midwest as a club team. Stew made his college playing debut for the cream and crimson. Three years as a player and two as the IU head coach sparked and forever cemented his love for the sport. 1968-1972 were spent in the full time service of the Center Stake jurisdiction of the now Community of Christ as Director of Youth and Leisure Ministries. In this role he developed an eight team youth and adult club program that competed in USA Volleyball settings. A late summer church youth volleyball tournament started by Stew in 1969 grew to 30 teams in 1972 and ultimately moved to Graceland to become the annual Sports, Arts and Leadership Spectacular. The next eleven years were passed in Macomb, IL as an Associate Professor of Leisure Services and Graduate Studies Chair at Western Illinois University. Stew coached the Leatherneck men's volleyball club often facing off with the Yellowjackets in league championships. During that stint he initiated at Graceland in behalf of USA Volleyball the longest running and most highly regarded volleyball camping program in the country. Stew has directed in excess of 300 camps over the years. The Graceland era began in 1982 when Stew answered the call and followed his heart back to the Hill. Since then the accolades have been rolling in. McDole teams have won 14 regular season Heart of America Athletic Conference championships, 7 post season HAAC championships, and he has been recognized as HAAC Coach of the Year 12 times. Three of his teams have made the jump to the NAIA National Championships finishing 9th (1986), 5th (1993) and 9th (2002) respectively. Parallel to his coaching achievements, Stew volunteers much of his time to better volleyball. He has logged 13 years as an officer of the NAIA Volleyball Coaches Association serving twice as President (1994-96 and 2000-02). He was an NAIA Hall of Fame inductee in 1986. Stew served 10 years on the national board of directors of USA volleyball where in 1991 he was chosen as one of the five elected officers of the association. He continues to serve as a corporate officer and was in 2005 given the Harold T. Friermood "Frier" Award, the highest honor given by the association. Stew represented the NAIA on the board of the American Volleyball Coaches Association for 17 years and was inducted into the AVCA Hall of Fame in 2003. The current McDole won-lost record on the hill is 745-363 and counting as he remains the Head Women's Volleyball Coach and continues year after year to collaborate with quality student/athletes to raise anew the traditions of Graceland Volleyball.
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Jackie Allen first came to Graceland University in 1995 following two years of collegiate play at Peru St. University. The Yellowjacket's welcomed someone of Allen's ability with open arms. Jackie made an immediate impact in both volleyball and softball. In volleyball she was named All Tournament team three times at the Graceland Invitational, the NAIA Classic twice, and once at the Emporia State Invite. She was also named HAAC player of the week on 10 different occasions, received 1st team all-conference honors in both 1995 and 1996 as well as being named to the All-American team in both seasons. She remains one of the finest players to ever play for Head Coach Stew McDole. Although Jackie made her mark in volleyball, what she did in softball was every bit as remarkable. Never playing a day of organized softball until she arrived on campus, Allen was named HAAC player of the week on four separate occasions, 1st team all HAAC team in both of her Yellowjacket campaigns, and 1st team All-Region V her senior year. Jackie currently resides in Corpos Cristi, Texas with her husband and three children. She is enlisted in the military and is completing her final year of nursing school.
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Floyd Ayers graduated from Graceland in 1958 with an AA degree. At the time, Graceland was a two year school just beginning to evolve into a four year University. Floyd excelled those two years in both scholarship and athletics. On the football field he started at left end and played both ways on offense and defense. He was the starting point guard running the offense on the basketball court and as catcher batting cleanup on the baseball team. He also participated in track and ran the 220 and 440. He was one of two recipients of the "Studentship Medal" in 1958 given infrequently and at the time the highest level of recognition given to outstanding student scholar/athletes for their contribution to the campus community.
After Graceland, he was awarded a full scholarship to play football and baseball at Montana State University, (now University of Montana). He earned letters in both sports at the university and was voted Captain and selected all conference on the baseball team his senior year. During his summers he played semi-pro baseball and earned All State honors while working full time - his leadership was evident in many facets throughout his career.
He won numerous sales and performance awards and promotions with Exxon before returning to Idaho. As Director of Finance and Administration for the capital city of Idaho, he was recognized as "outstanding employee" of the year; president and later Lt. Governor of the Utah Idaho Kiwanis civic organization; a sought-after public speaker on civic affairs often quoted by the media; community representative on the Idaho Statesman editorial board; and a Municipal Bond Specialist underwriting Idaho local government tax exempt bonds for schools, cities, counties and other local government agencies for two decades.
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Stan Rupe came to Graceland via Davis County High School in Bloomfield, IA and then Indian Hills Community College. Rupe transferred to Graceland where he thrived in the Jacket athletic scene. While a Jacket Stan participated in both football and baseball. In football he was selected as both a HAAC all-conference player and an all-district player in 1977, he was voted the MVP of the 1977 homecoming football game and he was a member of the 1975 "Mineral Water Bowl" team (inducted 2006) coached by fellow Graceland Hall of Fame inductee Bill Dudek. Not only was Rupe a standout on the football field, he excelled on the baseball diamond as well. In 1978 he was both a HAAC all-conference and all-district player.
What Stan did at Graceland was outstanding, and he has done very well since graduating. After his playing days were over Rupe got his first job teaching physical education and health as well as coaching at Wayne Community Schools in Corydon, IA. He spent 25 years there before moving to Ottumwa Community Schools. During his 25 years at the two schools he amassed a record of 390-201 in girls basketball, was inducted into the Iowa Girls Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2006 and is a on the Board of Directors of the National High School Athletic Coaches Association (2005). Stan has also been named State of Iowa Girls High School Basketball Coach of the Year numerous times.
Stan lives in Corydon with his wife of 30 years, Julie. Stan and Julie have two children: Shane, 27 and Rashawn, 21.
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Kristy began her running career at Graceland with limited experience in cross country and track and field. Hailing from Central Lyon High School in northwest Iowa, this small-town girl had yet to reveal her potential. Prior to attending Graceland, Kristy had never set foot on a cross country course or seen a state track meet. Originally an 800 meter specialist, she was advised to participate in cross country to condition for track.
Kristy quickly made her mark in Graceland history. During her cross country career she was a four-time All-Conference athlete finishing in the top 15 each season, and a two-time NAIA All Region V athlete, finishing 7th and 4th at those regional races. Her senior season, Kristy overcame an extreme case of anemia and earned a spot for Nationals. She placed 4th among all NAIA runners in the country - the highest ranking of a Graceland cross country athlete to date.
After competing as a pentathlete on the track, Kristy quickly found a new love for the mile run. She qualified for Nationals in the Distance Medley Relay her freshman indoor season. The next year she came back with a vengeance qualifying for Indoor Nationals in the 1000 and the 4x800 and setting school records in the 1000, 1500 and the mile. In outdoor track she set a new school record in the 1500m, qualifying her for Nationals. Her junior year she broke Graceland's school records indoors in all distances from the 1000m to the 5K and 4x800, also qualifying for Nationals in those events. She earned her first All-American award that season (4th), running 5:00 in the mile. In outdoor track that year she broke her own record in the 1500m and set new school records in the mile, 3K, and the Sprint Medley, as well as running qualifying marks in the 1500m, 3K, and the 4x800. She earned her second of four All-American awards in outdoor track (1500m, 3rd) that season.
After an amazing cross country season her senior year, she stepped on the indoor track again setting new records in the 1000m, 1500m, mile, 3K, and the 5K and running qualifying marks in all events from the 800m to the 5K including the 4x800. She earned National Champion honors that season in the mile, besting the field with a 4:55. She ended her collegiate career outdoors with new school records in the 3K and the 5K. She qualified for Nationals that season in the 1500m, 3K, 5K, and the 4x800 earning her final All-American award in the 1500m (4th).
Kristy graduated from Graceland in 2002 with a degree in Wellness Program Management and Health and Physical Education. She continues to run for Iowa's Elite Development Team, RunAblaze and is currently working on her Doctorate of Physical Therapy at Des Moines University, which she will receive in 2010.
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Tom McCracken attended Graceland College from 1960 to 1964, excelling in three sports during that time. Since his graduation, McCracken has gone on to coach basketball in a successful career that has spanned four decades and every level of competition from high school to NCAA Division I.
McCracken started every game in his basketball career with the Jackets, giving Graceland three years of exceptional play even after having to sit out his sophomore year with a heart condition. As a freshman, Tom averaged double figures in points scored and led the team in assists during a brilliant opening campaign. Coming back to the hardwood as a junior, McCracken led the team in scoring, shooting percentage and free throw percentage and was selected to the All-Conference team of the Missouri College Athletic Union.
As a senior, Tom broke the single-season scoring record with 454 points, with an average of more than twenty points a game. For the rest of the season, McCracken and fellow Hall of Famer Rich Harrop battled for the single-season record, and in the end it was Harrop who emerged with the record, having scored three more points than McCracken. Once again, McCracken was honored by selection to the MCAU All-Conference team.
Taking up tennis as a sophomore, McCracken advanced as a junior into the number five singles and number two doubles positions. In the singles spot, Tom won numerous tournaments, and lost only one match in the season. He also managed the latter achievement in his senior season, lettering in tennis both years.
After graduating, McCracken spent two years as head coach at Antilles High School in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Moving back to the mainland, Tom was head coach for the Emmetsburg, IA team during the 1967-68 season, winning Emmetsburg's only District championship in 20 years. Over the next four years, McCracken was coach of the Camanche, Iowa team, going 70-16 and qualifying in 1970-71 for their first trip to the state tourney.
Returning to Graceland as a coach in 1979, Tom became the winningest basketball coach in school history in two years of coaching, and coached them to their only outright conference championship as a 4-year institution. Over those two years, he compiled a 24-4 conference record and won the HAAC Coach of the Year award. After two years, Tom moved on to Southern Utah University. At Southern Utah, he compiled a home record of 36-2 and was selected the Coach of the Year after two RMAC championships and 20 consecutive wins. After going to the NCAA tourney with Utah in a three year stint and a four year stretch at Morningside College in Sioux City, IA, McCracken spent six years at Southern Oregon.
After concluding his college coaching career, McCracken was called back to action after a decade of retirement, the 35 year veteran took the Ashland (Oregon) High School girls to the state tournament, going undefeated at home and winning the conference coach of the year. McCracken also coaches golf at Ashland High School.
Tom currently resides in Ashland, Oregon with his wife Bonnie of eighteen years. He has two children, Kirt and Krisanne.
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Robert Hutchins arrived at Graceland from Sycamore, Illinois in the fall of 1965, and by the time of his graduation in 1969, he owned thirteen records for track and field and was the high scorer for the decade for Yellowjacket football.
After limited playing time as a freshman, Dr. Hutchins began to produce with a vengeance starting in his sophomore year, increasing his statistics every year. As a sophomore, he rushed for 444 yards on 73 carries and five touchdowns in conference play, earning a 6.1 yards per carry average. As a junior, Hutchins rushed for 694 yards on 138 carries and six touchdowns. He was selected that year as first team All-Conference in the Missouri College Athletic Union. Dr. Hutchins exceeded even these impressive efforts during his senior campaign, however, with ten touchdowns and 785 rushing yards on 166 carries to rank 30th in the nation in rushing.
In track and field, Dr. Hutchins credits Hall of Fame coach L.D. Weldon for turning him into a standout in a wide variety of events. As of his graduation, Hutchins owned Graceland records in the 440 relay, 50-, 60-, 100-, and 220-yard dashes, as well as the indoor 330-yard and the 100 meter runs. Additionally, Dr. Hutchins held the record in both the indoor and outdoor iterations of the triple jump, high jump and long jump, and still owns the record for the outdoor version of the last at 24 feet, 4.5 inches. Because of his performance at the National Decathlon Championship, Dr. Hutchins was selected by the US Olympic Committee shortly after graduation to be one of ten decathletes to train for the Munich Olympics in 1972. Family difficulties forced Hutchins to abandon his Olympic dreams late in the summer of 1970.
While teaching, Dr. Hutchins spent the next two years also playing semi-professional football with the Racine Raiders of the Central States Football League. As starting tailback for all but five games of his tenure, Hutchins, in his second and last year, was the leading scorer in the league. Deciding to go to graduate school, Hutchins finally hung up his cleats for good in 1972. An accomplished Karate fighter, Dr. Hutchins has black belts in Okinawan Shorei-Ryu and Yamashita Shorin-Ryu and competed under the auspices of the United States Karate Association throughout the 1970s. He excelled in competition, including a second place showing at the 1974 U.S.K.A. National Championship before retiring in 1978 after winning the Utah Quarterly Championship.
Since completing graduate school, Dr. Hutchins was selected teacher of the year in 1985 and was elected Region Coach of the Year for Track and Field in 1986. He is currently teaching in West Columbia, South Carolina, where he has been residing with his wife, Audrey, for the past 20 plus years, and they have an 18 year old daughter, Kristen. Dr. Hutchins also has an older daughter, Michelle, from his first wife, Gale Shirky Hutchins(Graceland 1970), now deceased, who is the mother of two children, Emma Gale and John William Hertlein IV, who resides with her husband in Sherman Oaks, California.
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Casey Dudek arrived at Graceland after an illustrious career as a student-athlete at Lamoni High School. One of the most decorated athletes in school history, Dudek was a four-time All-Conference, three-time All-District and two-time First Team All-State performer for LHS. As a junior, he was the leading scorer in the state of Iowa (all classes) with a scoring average of over 32 points per game. Dudek was also honored as a Street & Smith's Honorable Mention All-American and was a McDonald's All-American Game Nominee. Other honors included being selected as a member of the Iowa Junior Select Team and playing in the Iowa Dr. Pepper All-Star Game. Casey finished his career as Lamoni's all-time leading scorer with 2,176 points, which at the time was the 6th most points in Iowa's history. He is still ranked in the top 20 on the Iowa High School's all-time scoring list. In the midst of his success on the basketball court, Casey also found time to receive All-State honors twice as a shortstop for the Lamoni baseball team.
While at Graceland, Casey's basketball success continued, making the HAAC All-Conference team three times, two of which were first team honors, and he was also named an NAIA All-American. Dudek ended his collegiate career scoring 1,955 points, which ranks him 3rd on Graceland's all time scoring list. He still holds numerous school records including single game assists (15), single season assists (248), and career assists (730). Casey played in 128 consecutive games, which is also a Graceland record. Other school records include most career three pointers made (301) and a career free throw percentage of 85.5%. His senior year, Dudek had a consecutive streak of 33 made free throws and led the nation with a mark of 89.2%. Casey also served as a Team Co-Captain and was voted Team Most Valuable Player as a senior. Along with being an outstanding player, Dudek was consistently on the Dean's List and President's List at GU for his outstanding work in the classroom. Following his playing days, he spent two seasons as the men's varsity assistant coach for the Yellowjacket program.
After Graceland, Casey's basketball career continued. He toured with an All-Star Team called World Basketball Opportunities. WBO was a touring team, which played NCAA Division I teams during their preseason games. This opportunity helped him land a professional basketball contract overseas in France. Casey spent one season playing for Association Basket Courcelles Dourges in Dourges, France. As the starting point guard, Dudek averaged 12 points and 6 assists per game while shooting an amazing 94% from the free throw line.
Casey now lives in the greater Kansas City area and is an elementary Physical Education teacher. Dudek and his wife Annie have two children, Major and Kaicen.
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A Midland, Texas native, Lynda "Michelle" Acosta was one of the most prolific all-around guards to ever grace the court for the basketball Lady Yellowjackets. As a four-year starter, the 5'5" point guard racked up impressive numbers in multiple categories and, by the time of her graduation, held 17 Graceland records in women's basketball. A well-rounded player, Michelle left with the all-time and single season records for points scored (1986 points and 692 points respectively), assists (568 and 159) and steals (486 and 145). She also held the records for career free throws (605) and most points in one game (38). A three time captain, she helped to lead the Jackets to 53 victories over the course of her career, including a school-record 18 wins and a conference quarterfinals appearance during her senior year. That year, Michelle led the HAAC in scoring and steals and was second in assists; her 1986 points in 2002-2003 were enough to be fourth in the country. Acosta was selected as the runner up for conference MVP as a senior and that year also was selected to the All-American Second Team (after an Honorable Mention in 2001-2002), Graceland's first ever women's basketball All-American.
After graduating, Michelle coached Graceland's Junior Varsity team to a winning season in 2003-2004 and was subsequently offered a contract to play professional basketball in Sweden. Her professional career was cut short by a knee injury shortly thereafter.
After basketball, Acosta became a pediatric nurse. She now lives in Harlingen, Texas with her husband, Abel Fonseca II, a fellow Graceland alum with whom she has twin daughters, Alexis and Aliyah.
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Dan arrived on campus in 1961. During his four years on the "Hill" he was a member of the basketball, football, golf and track teams. He became involved in campus leadership, was a Tower sports reporter and the junior class president, and married his Graceland sweetheart, Suzanne Fisher ('64). A member of the 1965 graduating class, he spent the next 33 years in Michigan, first as a member of the faculty and coaching staff in Brown City and as manager of the Booth Publishing Company, and completing the last twenty-seven years of his high school teaching and coaching career within the Port Huron Area School District. Between 1988 and 1994 his Port Huron Northern basketball teams posted a 115-45 record, winning one conference, three district and two regional championships and appearing in back-to-back state quarterfinal games against the nation's #1 and #5 high school teams. During that time he was selected to the Michigan High School Football Coaches Hall of Fame.
In 1999 Hanton returned to Graceland as the Assistant Athletic Director and Head Women's basketball coach. His 2002-2003 team posted the most wins in a season (18) as well as the most conference victories (11); produced the first NAIA All-American in women's basketball (Michelle Acosta); and established numerous basketball records. In 2003, he was selected as Graceland's first full-time Director of Athletics. During his six year tenure, the Yellowjacket teams won a men's soccer national title, qualified for over 25 national team appearances, and won over 15 conference and regional championships. He also helped to supervise the renovation of the baseball, football, softball, and locker room facilities. In 2007, Dan was selected as the Heart of America Athletic Conference "AD of the Year" and was recognized by the state of Michigan and Gatorade for his 40 years of coaching and athletic administration. In 2008 he was inducted into the Port Huron, Michigan Sports "Hall of Fame" and in 2009 was elected to the Graceland University Alumni Board of Directors.
Dan and Suzanne have three children, Kelle ('90), Mark ('92), Brian, and four grandchildren.
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Alphie Fulton came to Graceland College in 1975 as a center for the Yellowjacket football program. Prior to Graceland, Alphie attended Lamoni High School where he lettered all four years in football, basketball and track. As a Demon, he ran in the state 2-mile relay team and also received football 1st team All-Conference and All District 15 honors.
After graduating from high school, Alphie attended Indian Hills Community College where he had a decorated junior college career, receiving All-Conference and 1st team All-NJCAA accolades in his sophomore year. In addition to receiving several honors as a Warrior, Alphie participated in the Wool Bowl in Roswell, New Mexico. After completing his sophomore year at Indian Hills Community College, Alphie decided to return to Lamoni to pursue his athletics as a Yellowjacket. He made an immediate impact on the football team as an outstanding run blocker and an even better pass blocker, eventually becoming a two time All-American. Fulton was named 2nd team All-American his junior year and 1st team All-American in his senior year. He was also part of the celebrated Mineral Water Bowl team of the fall of 1975. Following Graceland, Alphie found his vocation in education and taught in Villisca, Iowa for 20 years where he also enjoyed coaching football, girls' basketball and softball.
Alphie is married to Kathy and they have four grown children; Christy, Jay, Matt, and Amanda . Both are also proud grandparents to six wonderful grandchildren. Alphie currently lives in Leon with his wife Kathy.
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Darrell Frain graduated from Graceland in 1991 and became an educator and highly acclaimed coach, teaching high school special education for 18 years at Creston, IA High School. While at Graceland, Darrell excelled in both baseball and football for the Yellowjackets, lettering all four years in each sport. Darrell's abilities in football allowed him to successfully co-captain the team in his junior and senior years. His athletic skill was also prevalent in baseball as he received All-Conference honors in 1990.
His passion for coaching is evident, having spearheaded the wrestling team at Creston High School from 1999-2010 where the overall record stands at 191-44. For his efforts, Darrell received the 2008 NFHS Coaches Association Iowa "Wrestling Coach of the Year" award and the ICOA 2A "Wrestling Coach of the Year" award, and is the six time winner of the 2AA Southwest Iowa District "Wrestling Coach of the Year" award. The overall performance of his athletes is a testament to his passion for coaching. From 2003 to 2008 his wrestling team never finished lower than 3rd place at the Iowa State Wrestling Tournament. In 2007 his team finished first and in 2008 the team achieved a second place state finish. He brought home district titles in 2000, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, and 2008. His teams have also earned sectional titles and conference titles during his tenure. Overall, Coach Frain has captured 11 individual state championships and 6 state runner-ups along with 65 state qualifiers. In addition to success at the high school level, Darrell has had 14 athletes continue on to wrestle at the college level, including 3 Division-I athletes and 2 Division-I All-Americans. In addition to coaching wrestling, Coach Frain has coached baseball, track, and football at various high schools around Iowa.
Darrell married Kimberly Allen (Graceland '91) and they have 3 children: Madison, Trevor, and Brody.
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Dava Laxton, an Eagleville, Mo. native, prepped at North Harrison High School prior to enrolling at Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Mo.
As a local high school softball star, Dava posted a career batting average of .518 while being nominated four times as both an All-Conference and All-District athlete. Dava also was honored with a spot on the All-State team an astounding three times. She broke the Missouri state record in 1993 when she hurled 11 strikeouts in the state title match en route to a state championship. At the time of her graduation Dava held a top-20 record in 19 different categories.
Dava continued to excel on the field at Culver-Stockton. As a freshman she held the conference strikeout record and posted a 14-3 record as a pitcher.
After a hiatus from softball her sophomore year, Dava finally made her way to Graceland University where she double-majored in Physical Education and Wellness Management while minoring in Health and Coaching.
Regarded as the best fielding pitcher at any level by former head coach Bill Dudek, Dava turned in a remarkable two-year career at GU. The two-time All-Conference and All-District pitcher posted very impressive numbers in a Graceland uniform. Dava, beyond being named an honorable mention All-American, posted a 42-13 record as a Yellowjacket. In her junior year Dava led the team to the conference championship game against Lindenwood University, suffering a 3-2 extra-innings defeat.
Dava finished her career at Graceland with a .992 fielding percentage and .458 batting average. As a pitcher, she held an outstanding 1.23 earned run average.
Also during her days at Graceland, Dava was invited to play on Team USA's international tour through Belgium and the Netherlands in 1995. In Team USA's game against the Dutch, Dava accumulated 16 strikeouts in the victory.
Dava currently resides in Knoxville, Tenn. with her husband Jason, a former three-sport athlete at Graceland. The Laxtons own a financial services company and have two children, Bo and Josie.
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Mark Martin came to Graceland University by way of Lamoni High School in 1975. The multi-sport high school athlete had already won accolades as an all-conference player in both football and basketball.
During his time at Graceland, Martin distinguished himself by earning a varsity letter all four years for the Jacket football program. In addition to that accomplishment, he was a three-year starter and a tri-captain during his senior campaign. Martin holds the GU record for most interceptions during a four-year career (24), including a single-season high during his senior season (13). En route to those 13 interceptions, Martin picked off Tom Stine of Central Methodist University five times, halting the offense that still holds an NAIA record of highest average gain per completion. To highlight his marvelous senior season, Martin garnered All-District, All-Conference and Honorable Mention All-American awards in 1978.
After a short stint as a volunteer assistant coach with his former college team, Martin held the assistant coaching position at Doniphan West High School in Kansas for four years, resulting in three state titles. He then kept the reins of the program for the next 25 years, leading the Mustangs to another four state championships, one runner-up and several playoff appearances.
The long-tenured head coach retired in 2010, but not before reaching his most special pinnacle in 2000, a KSHSAA state championship with his own son quarterbacking the way.
Martin has been married to Nancy (Class of '79) for 34 years and they have two children, Rebecca and Tyler.
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William "Billy" Gray graduated from Watkins Memorial High School in Pataskala, Ohio in 1987. He was a star tight end and defensive back on the football field while holding his own on the basketball court.
In his years playing for the Warriors, Gray amassed many honors in both football and basketball. On the court, those honors include a two-time team leader in field goal percentage at 53% ('85-'86) and 49% ('86-'87), team-leading rebounder with 197 ('86-'87), team leader in steals with 49 ('86-'87), Most Improved Award ('86), Most Valuable Player Award ('87), All-Conference Award ('87) and selection as a Licking County League All-Star. On the field, Gray was a two-time defensive player of the week ('86), was voted first ever state Most Outstanding Lineman ('86), received All-Conference recognition ('87), was selected as a Licking County League All-Star and was a member of the team that was a Licking County League conference winner.
Upon graduating, Gray decided to take a hiatus from athletics. After a year away from sports, high school basketball coach Rich Harrop convinced Gray to enroll at Graceland. During his illustrious Graceland career, Gray won many awards that honored his outstanding collegiate career. In basketball, he earned the Most Improved Award and received HAAC All-Conference Honorable Mention ('88-'89), received the Mr. Defense Award ('92-'93), and earned 3 varsity letters. In football, Gray was a starting defensive back as a freshman and was a starter each following year; he was considered one of the fiercest and most competitive defensive players on the field. He earned HAAC Third Team All-Conference and NAIA All-District honors in 1988-89. After an extensive knee injury during his sophomore season, Gray went on to earn HAAC First Team All-Conference honors twice ('90, '91), NAIA First Team All-District honors twice ('90, '91) and team Most Valuable Player honors twice ('90, '91). On a national scale, Gray secured NAIA All-American honors twice, including a Second Team selection in 1990 and a First Team selection in 1991. Gray led his squad while being named captain for the 1990 and 1991 season and lettered three years, manning the outside linebacker/defensive end position.
In 1992, Gray helped coach his alma mater's football team, mentoring the Graceland defensive line. Gray also received the Outstanding Contribution Award that year.
Gray currently resides in Grimes, Iowa with his wife Misty (Class of '93). The couple has three girls: Mychaell, Paetynn and Braelynn.
Baldur, Manitoba native Darrick Jones came to Graceland in 1999 and made an immediate splash as a freshman for the Yellowjacket baseball team.
A right-handed, slugging catcher, Jones was a staple of the Jacket lineup, playing in 160 games in four years in Lamoni. Darrick hit for power and average racking up a .388 batting average and .471 on-base percentage while slugging .647. The Canadian backstop maintained his power in all four years, belting six home runs in each season for a total of 24. Jones was a key run producer throughout his career at Graceland, knocking in 131 runners while scoring 75 himself.
Darrick made a splash almost immediately in the Graceland offense, hitting .384 his freshman year with six home runs and 34 runs batted in. Jones bookended his Jacket career with a monster senior year where he hit .409 with 15 doubles, 6 home runs and 48 RBIs in a season that saw him make the All-Region 5 team and pick up a fourth All-Conference honor as well as earning Second Team All-American honors.
Also a fine defender behind the plate, Jones finished his career with a .983 fielding percentage, recording 790 putouts and 140 assists.
Following his illustrious career with the Jackets, Jones returned home to Canada to join the Winnipeg Goldeyes of the Northern Baseball League. After his time with the Goldeyes, Jones excelled with his hometown Baldur Regals, where he won consecutive provincial titles from 2008-2010 and a Western Canadian Senior Baseball Championship in 2009. Darrick himself was crowned Manitoba Senior Baseball Player of the Year in 2005 and 2009.
Not only was Jones a force on the field, he was also a standout student in the classroom. Darrick was a two-time academic All-American in 2001 and 2002 and he carried a strong GPA throughout his career.
In addition to his baseball exploits, Jones has worked in the grocery industry and maintained an active life in the community, becoming a pillar of his hometown of Baldur, Manitoba. Darrick married his wife Debbie in 2006, with whom he has two sons, Lachlan and Spencer.
Two sport standout Teri Wessel arrived at Graceland in 1989 from Davenport West High School in Davenport, IA.
Joining an already deep and talented Jacket volleyball lineup under Hall of Fame head coach Stew McDole, Teri nonetheless made her presence felt during three years on the Graceland varsity team.
After a solid 1990 season where she picked up two player of the week awards and contributed to a Heart of America Athletic Conference championship, Wessel exploded in 1991. That year, Teri took home 1st Team All-Conference and All-District awards and was named an NAIA All-American while the Yellowjackets rode to another HAAC title.
In a campaign where she garnered 1st Team All-Conference and All-District honors for a second consecutive year, Teri's 1992 season could not be called anything but consistently dominant. The senior made five All-Tourney teams and was Heart of America Athletic Conference player of the week three times. Wessel also notched her second NAIA All-American award.
A powerful force at the net in both offense and defense, Teri graduated with 407 total blocks, presently standing as Graceland's third all-time blocker. Wessel also managed 1102 kills in the course of her 373 games with the Yellowjackets, good enough for fourth in the record book.
In addition to her excellence on the volleyball court, Wessel helped anchor the Yellowjacket women's basketball squad, earning All-Conference nods all three years and All-District honors her junior and senior years. A force by nature in the paint, Teri notched more than 1000 points and 1000 rebounds for Graceland during her career, and graduated second on the all-time school record book for rebounding.
After Graceland, Teri moved on to receive her Masters of Occupational Therapy from Midwestern University in Downers Grove, Illinois. She has also become a certified occupational therapist from state and national organizations.
Teri married Dr. Jason Rexroth, with whom she has three children in sons Jaxon and Jevin as well as a daughter, Taylor. Through her children, Teri has returned to the court as a coach, passing along her hard-won experience to the next generation.
A 1967 graduate of Central Decatur High School in Leon, Iowa, Russell Harney migrated a few miles south to continue his athletic career in college at Graceland.
"Russ" was a standout football player for the Central Decatur Cardinals, and joined Coach Harry Larche's squad as an inside linebacker, spending four years as a defensive stalwart for the Yellowjackets while also contributing on offense at offensive end. Harney would be a mainstay for a Graceland team that, during his career, would feature fellow GU Hall-of-Famers Dr. Robert Hutchins and Tom Powell, earning Coach Larche's admiration for his toughness and leadership.
The Van Wert, Iowa native inked a 2nd Team All-Missouri Collegiate Athletic Union award his junior season, and was honored with a 1st Team nod the next year in 1969. In an outstanding senior campaign Russ recorded 84 tackles and 64 assists in eight games and was named to the 15th District All-NAIA football team for the year.
A two-year captain for the Jackets, Harney also served as president of Aaron House during his time at Graceland. He graduated in 1971 with a degree in mathematics and a minor in physical education. In recognition of his success on the football field, Russ' #41 jersey was retired for a three-year period.
Shortly after graduation, Russ married the former Thresa Machelle Savage (1972), with whom he had a son, Nathan, and a daughter Kris.
After spending time teaching and coaching at East Monona Schools in Moorhead, Iowa, Russ embarked on a career with Hy-Vee Food Stores that took him across the Midwest managing stores. Following his time at Hy-Vee, Harney settled in Kansas. There, he managed Friendly's Food & Fuel in Parsons. Always active in the community, Russ served as an elder in the Community of Christ Church, and as financial officer for the Scammon, Kansas congregation.
Russ Harney passed away July 27, 2005 in Park City, Kansas at the age of 56.
Victor, Iowa native Christel Olsen (Brown) had an outstanding career as member of the Graceland Women's Track & Field team from 1973-1977.
Christel began seeing athletic success during her senior year of high school at H-L-V. She was the Iowa state long jump champion, helping to carry her team to a second place finish at state. Christel still holds the South Iowa Cedar League records in the 100 meter sprint and long jump, as well as the H-L-V high school records.
As a freshman at Graceland in 1973-1974, Christel placed in the AIAW National meet held in Denton, Texas. With only one division for women's track, the team competed against all universities and colleges. Christel finished fifth in the 200 meter run and fourth in the long jump.
During Christel's junior year, the Graceland track & field team placed second in the AIAW Regional Championship.
In the AIAW regional track meet in May of 1977, Christel finished with two impressive performances against more than 400 other athletes. Individually, Christel walked away with a meet record in the long jump with a distance of 19'2" and rose as the underdog to win first place in the 100 meter dash with a time of .12.3. She also placed second in the 200 meter dash.
Christel's relay teams also saw great successes in the '77 AIAW regionals. Christel Brown, Peggy Brown, Nancy Crawford and Deena Miller upset the favored team to set a record of 47.6 in the 440 yard relay. Matching that performance, Christel Brown, Nancy Crawford, Deena Miller and Caren Horstmeyer came in first in the 880 meter medley with yet another record time of 1:47.82.
Graceland Hall of Fame track coach Betty Welch called '77 AIAW meet, "The highlight of my coaching career."
Christel herself takes time to point out her team's success as a whole. She notes that, not only was she individually successful in her races, but the team as a whole was able to flourish. As a team, the women finished the AIAW Regional Track & Field Championships in second place.
Now residing in Des Moines, Iowa Christel is the happy mother of two daughters and a son, and grandmother to four girls. After spending time as a probation officer and teaching at an alternative high school, she now works for Bolt Supply.
Bakersfield, California native Russell "Russ" Hampton came to Graceland in 1952 and made an immediate impact as a freshman for the Yellowjacket football team.
While attending Bakersfield High School, Russ starred in both football and basketball, was President of the Letterman's Club and was named "Best Student Athlete." His greatest memory of high school sports is the undefeated season the basketball team had his freshman year under Coach Joe Kegler.
After high school, Russ moved on to play end for Graceland College in 1952 and 1953 before transferring to UCLA in 1954. Playing both tight end and tackle for the Bruins, he went on to play on the undefeated National Championship team as well as facing Michigan State in the 1955 Rose Bowl.
After his successful collegiate career, Russ played football at the Naval Training Center in San Diego, California in 1956, before becoming an assistant football coach at UCLA in 1959. Hampton received his teaching credentials the following year from California State University, Los Angeles.
Russ then became a Physical Education instructor at Citrus Junior College while coaching the football and wrestling teams for the Owls. Other coaching experiences include his role as Assistant Football Coach at Washington State University from 1962-1964 and Assistant Football Coach at Stanford University from 1966-1968.
Russ dedicates the success of his athletic and coaching careers to the impact coaches had on his life. Coach Joe Kegler, his basketball coach from Bakersfield High School and Graceland College's Dick Carter who he felt taught him the most in terms of fundamentals and effort.
Other coaches who inspired Russ include Red Sanders and his staff, who coached the UCLA team to their National Championship and the Rose Bowl. Billy Barns, an assistant to Sanders, was directly responsible for Russ's three college coaching jobs including Citrus Junior College, Washington State and Stanford.
Now a resident of Kansas City, Missouri, Russ attributes his greatest successes to the health and well-being of his family, including his seven daughters, sixteen grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
Dr. Clarence "C.R." Auxier came to Graceland from Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1957. A standout wrestler, C.R. joined an impressive Yellowjacket lineup of grapplers and anchored the Graceland squad for four outstanding seasons.
Under the tutelage of Graceland Hall of Fame coach Gerald Hampton, Auxier tore his way through competition as a 137 pound wrestler. He compiled a brilliant dual match record of 46-2-1 and took 4th place in the NAIA National Wrestling Tournament. Along with teammate and fellow Hall of Famer Gary Collins, Auxier's exploits helped to cement the Yellowjackets as a perennial wrestling power for the rest of the decade.
After graduating in 1961 with his bachelor's degree, C.R. spent fifteen years as a teacher and coach in public schools. In the process, he earned an M.S. in Physical Education from the University of Central Missouri. Always a renaissance man, Auxier was a higher education instructor and mentor for thirteen years, a graphic artist for sixteen years, and spent four years as a mental health counselor.
In 1998 C.R. acquired an M.A. in Community Counseling from Adams State College, followed by a Ph.D in Counselor Education and Counsel from Idaho State University in 2001.
Auxier's educational career has taken him all over the world, including a three year stint at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji. He is presently married and living in Cottonwood, Arizona, from which he dotes on his four children and three grandchildren.
Verneda Thomas was born in Chicago, Illinois on June 21st, 1936, the youngest of twelve children for Russell and Verneda Thomas.
An irrepressible and active child, she quickly found an outlet for her energy in athletics at the YMCA. Getting her start in track, Thomas joined the Chicago Comets track team and was soon traveling across the country for meets. The Comets were an integrated team which, in the 1950s, imposed serious challenges for nationwide travel and brought Verneda face-to-face with the stark realities of segregated America. Bravely facing those challenges, Thomas proved to be a standout high jumper and, at 17, won the AAU championship and appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show.
Joining the 1956 Pan American Games track team, Verneda got her first taste of international competition in the high altitude of Mexico City. In her post-high school career, Verneda's high jumping took her across the world to compete on behalf of her country. Struggling to crack the top spot in the high jump, an unsatisfied Verneda transitioned to volleyball. After getting used to the game, Thomas and some companions from the YMCA formed a club called the Chicago Rebels. The Rebels were a Great Lakes powerhouse, and once again, sport took Verneda to new and exciting places. After a strong showing at the national tournament, she was picked for the 1964 U.S. Olympic team, bound for Tokyo, Japan.
Verneda remained active in volleyball after her Olympic experience. In 1972 she arrived at Graceland in hopes of furthering her education and starting a career outside of sports. She was an assistant coach for the men's volleyball squad, and remained active on the club circuit, playing with Jacket men's players. She graduated in 1973, but not before Graceland's winter term program sent her to Honolulu to work at a cardiovascular research lab. The lab offered her a job upon graduation, and Thomas has become a pillar of the Hawaiian community in the subsequent forty years. She worked at Queen's Medical Center as a research associate and then as a surgical technician until her retirement in 1996.
Volleyball stayed a part of Thomas' life. She became a national official in 1982 and remains active in officiating. She returns to the mainland every year for volleyball championships and to visit her family.
Two sport star Cara Warner was born in Kansas, but she truly grew up on the Graceland campus after moving to Lamoni at age 11. After an adolescence with every spare hour spent in the Graceland gym, future as a Yellowjacket was not a matter of chance, but a matter of destiny.
A standout volleyball, basketball, and track athlete throughout high school, Warner was a classic "Spec Brat" over her teenage summers. Starring during the on-campus Spectacular festivities as well as in prep athletics, the 6'3" Warner possessed a unique athleticism that would pay off almost immediately after she first officially donned the navy and gold in 1997.
The flexibility of Cara's athletic gifts truly shone in track and field where she excelled in the high jump and middle distance runs. Competing in both indoor and outdoor activities, she was nearly unbeatable in the high jump, where set the mark for highest jump in the nation with a 5'10" leap in the midst of a dominating two year stretch in her junior and senior seasons. A four year All-American, Warner also excelled in the classroom as a commercial design and studio art double major, garnering Academic All-American honors as well.
In volleyball, the middle hitter was dual threat at the net who anchored Coach Stew McDole's front court, where she collected All-Regional honors during a dominating Yellowjacket season her senior year in addition to adding Academic-All American honors in that sport as well.
Cara now lives in beautiful Los Angeles, California, where she plays beach volleyball whenever she can around her career as an interior designer specializing in authentic modern interiors.
Glenn Brush has left his mark on generations of Graceland fans and student-athletes since arriving in Lamoni in the fall of 1961 from Colorado.
Hall of Fame wrestling coach Jerry Hampton helped to bring Brush onto campus, and was rewarded with a dominating career performance from the heavyweight grappler. Brush was MCAU heavyweight Champion in 1962, 1964 and 1965, then wrestled in the NAIA Nationals in 1964 and 1965. Glenn was named outstanding Graceland wrestler during his senior year and won the very competitive Graceland tournament in 1965.
He never lost an MCAU conference match.
On the gridiron, Brush was a 4-year letterman, playing for Hampton and the legendary Harry Larche. A two-way contributor, Brush played offensive guard and defensive end. He was twice named all-conference offensive player in the Missouri Collegiate Athletic Conference and was named Graceland's most valuable lineman during his junior year and team MVP during his senior year.
Glenn was also a three-year Letterman on the track and fielder team participating in the shot and discus for fellow Hall of Famce coach L. D. Weldon.
After college, Glenn was drafted into the US Army in 1966 and became the Fort Hood, Tx Post wrestling coach in addition to his other military duties. His teams won several fourth army championships and Brush himself took the 213.5 lbs light heavyweight crown himself.
Once his term of service was over, Glenn returned to Kansas City, where he coached at Raytown High School for 30 years. His softball teams won eight conference championships and won the 1988 Greater Kansas City softball tournament.
After retiring from Raytown in 2000, Glenn returned to Graceland, where he coached softball and football for six years and also served as the Closson Center facilities director, continuing to serve his alma mater and make a positive impact on another generation of young athletes.
Part of Graceland and Lamoni High School lore, Billy Dudek joins his Hall of Fame father, William "Duke" Dudek, and brother Casey on the wall of honor, the bearer of a great athletic dynasty.
One of the greatest athletes in Demon history, Dudek left Lamoni as the second all-time leading scorer on the basketball court. But it was as a baseball player where the multitalented Dudek most thrived, ending his run in red and black as the all time home run king and the owner of Lamoni's first perfect game pitched.
Moving uptown to Graceland College in 1991, Billy was an immediate hit for the Jacket baseball team. An instant leader, Dudek became the first Graceland ballplayer to earn conference player of the week honors after a show-stopping performance in his first conference match after belting two triples and two doubles in a 6 for 8 day against Evangel. This breakout was just the first of four weekly honors for Dudek.
Billy was Mr. Everything for the Yellowjacket nine, always floating near the top in virtually every offensive category. The left-handed lead-off hitter extraordinaire was an on base machine for Graceland, pestering opponents with grinding plate appearances and then running with virtual impunity once between the sacks.
Dudek's senior campaign at Graceland was a season for the ages. Leading the team in triples, runs, hits, on base percentage, and stolen bases, Billy was team MVP, voted a unanimous 1st Team All-Conference selection, and was runner-up HAAC player of the year. He swiped 35 bases in 36 attempts despite playing a limited schedule for the Jackets.
In addition to his accomplishments on the field for Graceland, Billy was selected for an all-star team which traveled through Belgium and Holland to play baseball. Dudek went on to play professionally overseas in Germany with the Elmshorn Alligators. While playing for the Alligators, he led the team in RBI's, homeruns, triples and stolen bases, and hit for an incredible .408 batting average.
The Recreation major stays active in his post-playing career, and remains proud to have contributed to his family's legacy of accomplishment at Graceland.