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Roger Hrabe, Plainville.    Played for Coach from 1972 to 1976
Pete Thomas, Cimarron.  Played for Coach from 1963 to 1965
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
By Roger Hrabe, The Hays Daily News 1/29/2004
 
     Last 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 individual. 
     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.
     While it 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.
     “Coach,” as 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 in athletics.
     So often 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.
     But I 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.
     Friend 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.
     While 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.
     One example 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.
     After 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.
     To this 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 individuals.”  
     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 at Cimarron. 
     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 life.    Pete Thomas. Seasons of 1962-63-64.
Heartfelt congratulations to Coach Friend on his induction into the Hall of Fame. 
     I was fortunate to have been on the 8th grade team when Coach Friend arrived in Cimarron.  Coach Friend, perhaps more than anyone I know, 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 either)
     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. 
He told 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 the man".
     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.
  Larry Brown.
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