This odyssey of life began at the age of eight. My brother worked at the swimming pool and, like many younger brothers, I tagged along. While hanging out, I did little odds and ends to help out. While I was working around the pool, my mentor and inspiration, Mr. Jim McDonald (better known as Mac) noticed me and gave me my first paying job picking up trash around the pool and park. When that was finished, he would take me to a little league field behind Central Park Stadium (now McDonald Stadium) where I picked up trash while my brother marked the fields. Later the odyssey continued as I became a life guard, mowed fields and marked the fields.
I also began playing baseball in the summer and continued to play through high school. It was during my years at El Dorado Junior High and El Dorado High School that I began teaching a sport that I still love today. As a player, I played on the Skelly and later the Elks All Star teams. But my love of the game began to center around coaching and teaching. I discovered the game involved much more that a bat, ball and a glove. I was infatuated with the strategies of the game.
After high school, I went to Emporia State University and majored in education primarily to become a coach. After graduation I began to remember all the time and hours spent by my mentor and tried to emulate him as much as possible, yet remain who I am as a teacher and coach. I played football and baseball in high school, but I was elated to have an opportunity to coach other sports. While coaching baseball was and is my first love, O enjoyed working with many of the same athletes in football, wrestling and track.
One of the best rewards was the many friendships I made. From these experiences, I have a continuing relationship with Dan Lankas and Brad Long. In addition to Mac, I learned more from these two men that has helped guide me through this odyssey of life. I coached with Dan during his years at El Dorado High School. Brad and I teamed up to coach High School baseball and we had several great years and some not so great. We also coached the Hardee's Junior Legion team to the Kansas State Championship in 1976. Through the good and bad, as I continued to grow as a man, I must give all the credit to these three men who were both my colleagues and very dear friends.
I did not receive honors such as coach of the year, player of the year or all league in any sport. My honors come from seeing all the young people I have coached and taught go on to live successful lives. I have been able to see my children grow up and to watch them in sports both in high school and in city recreation activities. I feel totally blessed to have been raised and to have my children raised in a town like El Dorado.