“Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.” That quote is attributed to UCLA Bruins football coach Henry Russell “Red” Sanders and I always thought it was the mind-set of all winning coaches. But it turns out winning is not always the only thing, even when it means everything.
Barton Community College Athletic Director Trevor Rolfs spoke gave a talk recently at the Great Bend Noon Kiwanis Club and talked about three core things the BCC coaches focus on: the student athletes are expected to develop academically, athletically and socially.
Athletically, the proof is in the pudding, Rolfs said. The win-loss record of a team is there for all to see.
Academically, Barton has the highest student-athlete grade point average of the 19 Kansas community colleges, and ranks No. 3 academically among community colleges across the nation, he said.
“I give my coaches a lot of credit for that,” Rolfs said.
Now in his seventh year as athletic director here, Rolfs was a Barton student athlete from 1991-1993. The emphasis on social development was in place even then. Rolfs remembers his own days visiting elementary schools as a Barton Cougar.
“I used to love going see the kids,” he said. As a 19-year-old, seeing the admiration in a 7-year-old’s eyes has as much impact on the athlete as on the child.
There are 358 student athletes plus 70 more students who count as support staff at Barton. With the latest addition of wrestling and swimming, the college has 20 athletic programs, while the average Kansas community college has 14. In the future, there may be a collegiate bowling team as well.
Student athletes perform thousands of hours of community service, Rolfs said. “I think it gives our kids a perspective.”
At the Nov. 11 basketball game, Barton basketball players took time out to observe Veterans Day by going into the stands and thanking veterans. It was a moving time and there were tears on some faces. The visiting team saw what was happening and its players also began to thank the veterans.
“A lot of kids don’t get it; this helps them get it,” Rolfs said.
“I am proud of how our kids have represented our college and behaved in the seven years I have been here,” he said. “I feel blessed that I’m surrounded by a bunch of good coaches who care about kids and their development.”
Speaking of Kiwanis, it is one of many clubs that meet one or more times a month in Great Bend. We tend to think of these as social clubs or community service groups, but they are also an excellent venue for learning more about our community.
Susan Thacker is news editor of Great Bend Tribune and a regular contributor to the 530News. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.