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Roger Hrabe, Plainville.
Played for Coach from 1972 to 1976
Pete Thomas, Cimarron. Played for Coach from 1963
Larry Brown, Olathe
Played for Coach from 1961 to 1965
Rich Jantz, Lawrence
Played for Coach from
Larry Brown, Olathe
Following The Dinner At Hays.
Friend a model for all of us
Roger Hrabe, The Hays Daily News 1/29/2004
Saturday, Larry Friend was inducted into the Kansas State High School
Activities Association Hall of Fame between final games of the Mid
Continent League Tournament. It was a very deserving honor for a special
I had the
privilege of being coached by friend while a student at Plainville High
School from 1972 to 1976. Later, from 1980 to 1987, I was an assistant
football coach under his guidance while teaching and coaching in
Plainville. Together, the two periods had a tremendous influence on my
early days of coaching and growing up.
was his accomplishments as a coach, official and athlete that earned him
the Hall of Fame honor, it was the method by which he went about his
business that sets him apart.
he always will be known to those who played for him, was much like any
good coach in that he expected the best from his players every day. He
expected his players to be disciplined in their personal lives as well as
today, athletics are put in a negative light either because of the
emphasis that is put on them or because of negative events by players that
bring disgrace to their sport.
cannot think of anything I did growing up that taught me the lessons that
I learned while an athlete. Learning to be a gracious winner, a humble
loser and respecting every opponent all were traits that were learned from
athletics. And Coach Friend always emphasized that when we were finished
playing games, we should live our personal lives the same way.
never had to use bad language to berate or motivate. I can’t remember
anything worse than “dadgummit” coming out of his mouth. I am sure that
his players were not that perfect, but you knew that there was heck to pay
if you let it slip in front of him.
That is not
to say that he didn’t get excited and kick a few things or throw his hat
every now and then. In fact, sometimes he was compared to a little bantam
rooster on the sidelines. But he was a bantam rooster who exercised
self-control in his language and his actions.
Friend was blessed as an athlete, his coaching success came through plain
hard work. It was nothing for him to be up at 3 a.m. watching films or
drawing diagrams of defenses. It was exhausting to witness the effort
that he would put into the simplest of details. It was as if moving
someone a couple of feet on defense was going to be the difference between
winning and losing. Well, maybe it was, because he did plenty of winning.
of both his unending work and his respect for his players was exemplified
in 1980 when he got my brother—a senior leader on the team—out of bed
before school on a Friday morning to ask him what he thought about
changing the defense against our opponent that night.
I am sure
my brother thought what we had planned for the game was just fine, but
something was bothering Coach, and he had to run it by somebody, and he
respected his players enough to ask them what they thought. It was no
coincidence that we won the state championship later that year. Friend’s
hard work, and that of his players, had paid off.
Plainville defeated Silver Lake in the state championship game on a
beautiful fall day, Friend, who had just shown his normal high emotion
during the game, sat down at the front of the bus as we headed home from
Topeka, and it began to hit him what had been accomplished.
About 10 to
15 minutes later, he got out of his seat, and with misty eyes, shook hands
and thanked each player and coach’s hand, then thanked and congratulated
them on what they had accomplished as a team. It was not his
accomplishment, it was the team’s, and he wanted them to know that.
day, as I contemplate how to institute a leadership program in our county,
I can’t help but think I have been given the most important leadership
lessons already. There were lessons learned from a bantam rooster who
roamed the sidelines of Cardinal Field.
There is no doubt that
Coach Friend deserves to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. There are
many reasons that I could mention but there is one that will always stick
in my mind that comes from my personal experience. In my web site there
is a link to Cimarron’s Lady Jays winning their state championship in
1998. In that article I made a comment about coaching.
“And of course the
coaching staff. It takes that special little bit of something extra to
put a team over the top. Talent is of course a must but the will to
win must be instilled at all times. I have always felt that the coaches'
ability to keep a team believing in themselves is as important as their
ability to run the right plays at the right time with the right
My case in point is the results Cimarron’s
football team achieved in the fall of 1964, my senior year. Cimarron had
finished it’s first all victorious and undefeated season a year earlier in
the fall of 1963. I was proud to be one of the 44 or so members of that
team. In those days, most starters played both defense and offense.
Coach however, never left to question that the whole team was “The Team”.
That team was touted to be one of the best teams ever at Cimarron. We
will never know if that is true and I suppose that is for the best. That
team graduated starter after starter, Addison, Butzine, Legg, Whitesell,
Dewey, Newsome, and Davis for example. For the most part, that senior
class was bigger and faster than any single class that I can ever recall
In 1964 Coach took what few starters that were
left and started building his new team. Our second team had been tough in
the past and was undoubtedly much of the reason for the success in 1962
and 1963. We went on that year to complete back-to-back all victorious
and undefeated seasons.
A few years later I was involved in a conversation
with some of the older members of our community and we were talking about
those teams. One of them made a comment that the team of 1964 had sure
fooled everyone. I asked him why and he commented that with all of the
starters that had graduated no one had expected us to even have a winning
season let alone win them all.
I was surprised at that. I don’t recall that
any of us players for one moment thought we were going to loose a game.
Looking back at it I can see what these “old boys” were talking about
though. We really weren’t that impressive on paper. But fortunately we
did have that “special little bit of something extra” that propelled us to
our perfect record. That something extra was Coach Friend. He never let
us think about anything but winning.
Thanks Coach for making my High School years some of the best years of my
Pete Thomas. Seasons of 1962-63-64.
Heartfelt congratulations to Coach Friend on his
induction into the Hall of Fame.
was fortunate to have been on the 8th grade team when Coach Friend arrived
in Cimarron. Coach Friend, perhaps more than anyone I
had a unique eye to be able to recognize qualities in his students and
players that even they didn't know they had. I can remember in the spring
of that 8th grade year, I was struggling to throw a shot put. Each
attempt was successful if I could get it to land outside the ring. Coach
brought me down to the track and had me running sprints and he entered me
into the 220 and 100 yd sprints for the next meet. With a little bit of
coaching and some modest success it was a marked experience for me to
achieve and gain some self-confidence.
Playing on the HS team from fall of 61to the fall of 64, I can remember as was
shared in a previous note. My senior year when the really big guns had
graduated, I don't suppose our team athletically was ever superior to any
team we played. But through hard work and preparation, Coach Friend
always found a way to exploit opponents weaknesses and capitalize on any
of our strengths to put together a second consecutive undefeated season.
(The previous year to that, we had one loss to Plains, which wasn't bad
One other thing that I have always thought about over the years, often
times, Coach would tell us in the scouting report for the upcoming
opponent. "I think we can block a punt on these guys, and I think they
are vulnerable here." He would then commence to devise the plan, and come
Friday night we blocked a punt. Often times an offensive play was
installed that he thought would work against this team--- and it would go
for 25 or 30 yards.
Coach was able to inspire, nurture and even chasten as needed to develop
in us, the kind of character we would need in life. The lessons we learned
under Coach Friend’s tutelage have been for life.
This one note may say something about the impression on our parents: Some
years later, my
parents were living in northwest Kansas and my dad saw on a football
schedule that Plainville was playing some 40 or 50 miles away.
me he was a little homesick to see one of Larry Friend's football teams
play, so he got in the car and traveled just to see another team play,
this one in which he didn't have any sons playing. He truly enjoyed that.
Larry Brown Cimarron Sr. class of 65
What a special night in January at Gross Memorial in Hays, to see Coach
Friend get inducted into the Kansas Hall of Fame. Then again at the
banquet in Hays to honor Coach and all of his accomplishments. Coach
was special to us in our high school days and many of his teachings have
helped me achieve success today in my business.
The athletes who played for Coach were so lucky to have him the seven
years he was in Cimarron. All the honors bestowed upon Coach are
well deserved and I want to thank him for being special in my life.
THANKS COACH. RICH JANTZ
I just recently attended a
dinner in honor of a high school football and track coach of mine, as he
had recently been inducted into the KSHSAA Hall of Fame.
My wife of some 32
years, an only child and raised in a suburb of Minneapolis Minnesota,
questioned how I and by brothers could speak so highly of a football coach
of some 40 years ago when we had come from such a good home and parents
who exemplified all the good qualities that would hopefully make us good
citizens to this world. I always came up short in trying to explain to
her how I felt about this man....
Was he a personal friend
to his students? No. Today I would call him a friend but would not have
considered him a friend for many years only because of my immense respect
for him. Somehow the word "friend" was too informal, more like buddy.
Was it his credentials?
Coach Larry Friend came to my Jr. High School as a teacher/coach during my
eighth grade year. He had stellar credentials as a High School athlete
and collegiate football and track athlete. But he never told us about
those things. Often times if we heard something about some of Coach
Friends exploits, we kind of spaced that off as maybe urban myth. He
didn’t talk about those things unless we asked him, but the problem was we
didn't know to ask.
Was it the winning
record he compiled? If you were to ask any of the Cimarron or Plainville
players that were coached by Larry Friend they will talk about those
records and wins, but that is only because there is no other way to
quantify or speak of someone without the numbers.
At this dinner and
program we heard stories from Coach Friends Hall Of Fame high school coach
(Coach Jay Frazier), some of his teammates and many of his players. Coach
Larry Friend went to High School in a little town of Burdett Kansas. We
discovered that he had decided at an early age that he wanted to be a
coach. He went to Junior College in Dodge City then on to Northwestern
College in Alva, OK. He was one of those tremendous athletes who were
focused on preparing himself to teach and coach future generations in the
important things of life needed to become good citizens.
We heard a newspaper
sports writer (Bob Greer) tell of following him as he coached his teams to
some 29 straight games without a loss at Cimarron. On the day of his
loss, Coach Larry Friend was as gracious in losing as he was in winning.
Bob Greer told me prior to the dinner, "that was when I fell in love with
I vividly remember first
meeting Coach Friend. It was on the football field as an eighth grader;
he set down the rules. "My name is Coach Friend or Mr. Friend. When you
see me on the street or in the hallway at school, that is how you will
address me; He commanded respect. To this day, over 43 years later I will
not call him Larry Friend. It still is coach. Years later, a teammate
and friend of my oldest son's father had earned his PHD. and my son
Brandon had mentioned Erik's father by his first name. I told him “you'll
always refer to Erik's dad as Dr. Bell”. It was a lesson about respect
that I was trying to teach my son that my father had tried to teach me and
was masterfully reinforced by Coach Friend; respect for others.
Upon attending this
celebratory dinner, my wife Dawn has grasped a little of what it is that I
couldn't adequately express about Coach. Exactly why it is that we are so
fond of Coach Larry Friend. The model that he gave us was compatible with
all the important things our parents worked so diligently to teach us.
Some of us needed those repetitions to learn.
I say congratulations once again to Coach Larry Friend upon his induction
into the KSHSAA Hall of Fame.
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