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July 2012

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stormont-vail & cotton-o’neil

three levels of care Stormont-Vail HealthCare provides a variety of levels of care. If a medical need occurs when your primary care physician is not available, you have three options: Mild

The ClinicModerate at Walmart by Stormont-Vail Severe 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays Located inside the north Topeka Walmart and providing minor health services without an appointment for patients ages 18 months and older. Staffed by advanced practice nurses and a physician assistant.

Mild

Moderate

Cotton-O’Neil ExpressCare Severe With three locations in Topeka and one in Osage City, these urgent care clinics, complete with lab and X-ray services, are available to patients of all ages who need treatment for a minor illness or injury. You do not have to be a Cotton-O’Neil patient to be cared for at ExpressCare. ExpressCare – Croco: 2909 S.E. Walnut Dr. 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends ExpressCare – Urish: 6725 S.W. 29th St. 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends ExpressCare – North: 1130 N. Kansas Ave. 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays ExpressCare – Osage City: 131 W. Market 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends

Mild

Moderate

Severe

Stormont-Vail Emergency and Trauma Center Open 24 hours a day, every day, and designed for sudden, serious injury or illness. Located one block west of Eighth and Washburn.

Call Health Connections’ Ask-A-Nurse at (785) 354-5225 evenings and weekends for help finding the most appropriate level of care.

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contents

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6 The Body Dynamic Learn how your body is connected in ways you might not realize.

16 Coach Talk Mark Elliott talks with Bret Cowdin, head baseball coach of the Rossville High School Dawgs and the Rossville Rattlers.

top spot Katy Evenson

20 Media Icon Get to know sports photographer Ann Williamson of the Topeka Capital-Journal.

24 Inspirational Athlete Kyle Snyder’s story of perseverance through hardship and tragedy.

26 Made in Shawnee County J.B. Bauersfeld interviews NCAA Swimming Champion and former Topeka High standout, Shara Stafford.

8 Off-Road Athlete Neil Tajchman

12 Rodeo Girl Natalie Davis

14 Athlete to Airman Emily Wagemaker

30 Coaches’ Corner

July 2012

Area coaches share with MVP readers who their heroes are and the impact that their parents have had on them.

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from the editor & contributors Braden Dimick

As we look back on the first year of MVP: Shawnee County High School Sports Magazine we want to thank all of our advertising partners that have made MVP possible each month. As you turn the pages of MVP, be sure to take notice of our partners, and if you enjoy MVP, thank them. We also want to thank all of the high school administrators, coaches, students, parents and fans that have made year one a great success. Shawnee County has incredible talent to be showcased. Although we cannot highlight everyone, we love to hear about athletes excelling and inspiring others. If you know of a student-athlete that we should know about, please email us at taradimick@gmail.com.

Tara Dimick

Publisher

Our July and August issues highlight Shawnee County high school students excelling at non-high school sports. A little different twist for MVP that has uncovered some incredible athletes. We hope you enjoy! Sincerely,

Tara Dimick Editor-in-Chief

Editor-in-Chief

Rachel Lock

Corrections from MVP June 2012: Cedric Vinson, Topeka High School graduate, has signed a letter of intent to play football at Butler County Community College.

Jamie Pfannenstiel, Silver Lake High School graduate, has signed a letter of intent to play volleyball at Washburn University.

Photographer

Jenni Ponton

Our apologies to John Tetuan and Jeff Stromgren for mixing up names in Mark Elliott's Coach Talk. Jeff Stromgren

Creative Director

Special thanks to our MVP assistant, David Vincent, for all his help in the June issue!

Contributing Writers J.B. Bauersfeld // Mark Elliott Lisa Loewen // Karen Ridder Account Executive Tara Dimick // 785.217.4836 PO Box 67272 ▪ Topeka, KS 66667 785.217.4836 ▪ mvpeditor@gmail.com www.mvpsportsmagazine.com

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John Tetuan

Assistant // David Vincent Publishing Company E2 Communications, Inc.

MVP Sports Magazine is published by E2 Communications, Inc. Reproduction or use of this publication in any manner without written permission of the publisher is prohibited. Every effort was made to ensure accuracy of the information in this publication as of press time. The publisher assumes no responsibility of any part for the content of any advertisement in this publication, including any errors and omissions there in. E2 Communications, Inc. makes no endorsement, representation or warranty regarding any goods or services advertised or listed in this publication. Listings and advertisements are provided by the subject companies. E2 Communications, Inc. shall not be responsible or liable for any inaccuracy, omission or infringement of any third party’s right therein, or for personal injury or any other damage or injury whatsoever. By placing an order for an advertisement, the advertiser agrees to indemnify the publisher against any claims relating to the advertisement.


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The Body Dynamic by Melissa Brunner

If you've been nursing a sore hip, have a nagging catch in your knee or can't seem to loosen up that stiff back, you might blame your shoulders, your hands or even your breathing. Physical Therapist Paul Regnier of Restore Physical Therapy says our body parts are connected in ways we might not realize. "Babies, at a young age, are set up to respond spontaneously to position. You touch their foot and they'll withdraw. Put a noise by their ear and they extend," he said. "Our nervous system is set up on these basic reflexes. As we get older, they'll react to the physical aspect of trauma or the emotion of an event and cause a

acting up. Regnier says the body's protective response can kick in a little too much and cause additional problems. "The nervous system gets a movement memory and it will keep that memory until it's trained out of it," he said. "You can get a dysfunctional movement memory that will need to be retrained." But it doesn't always take a specific event to lead to injury. Regnier says repeatedly moving your body in a way that disrupts its balance, over time, can lead to pains and strains. The first area to consider is tension. Tighten your hands into fists, jog a few steps and

"Athletes just want to try harder, but athletes do better when they're loose. When you're in fear and don't think you can do it, you might try harder but you tense up and don't perform as well." Paul Regnier // Physical Therapist // Restore Physical Therapy physical response in the body." With that in mind, as we become involved in sports or other physical activities, Regnier says we need to keep in mind balance and muscle memory. Take, for example, a twisted ankle. As it heals, you might notice a knee or your back

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pay attention to what you feel. Regnier says those tight fists can correspond to tight feet and arches and less flexibility in the feet and ankles. The result can be calf strains, Achilles pulls and foot pain. Now tense up the shoulders. Stiffness there can lead to stiffness in your lower


Paul Regnier // Restore Physical Therapy back muscles, resulting in a sore back or hips. Regnier says tension also can slow reaction time and make you inefficient in your movements. "It's almost an over control issue," he said. "Athletes just want to try harder, but athletes do better when they're loose. When you're in fear and don't think you can do it, you might try harder but you tense up and don't perform as well." Tension does have a positive side, though. Regnier says a person about to get hit will reflexively show tension in the jaw, which changes the tension in the tissues around the brain, providing protection against concussions. Football players, then, need to strike an interesting balance. They want to be loose as the play unfolds so they can anticipate and react, but then they need to assume tension at the point of contact to protect themselves. The lessons can apply even with body parts you don't think are important to the task at hand. Running, for example, is a big part of many activities - and it doesn't just work your legs. Regnier says actions of the arm are mimicked by the opposite leg. The posterior deltoid (the back of your shoulder where it meets the arm) is reflected in the opposite glute; triceps are reflected in your hamstrings and the calf muscles mimic the wrist. "Rotation in the shoulder, wrist or hands can rotate knees, ankles and hips, causing wear and tear," Regnier says. This means actions like bringing your arm across your body, swinging one arm more than the other or holding your wrists or biceps too stiffly instead of allowing some flexing action, you might notice stiffness or sore spots. Regnier says some of those actions could relate to your breathing, too. If you're not breathing properly, he says, the diaphragm can twist, which twists the ribs. It typically might show up as your right arm swinging across your body, an action that would then be mimicked in the legs. Balancing your body movements might need specific attention for sports like baseball, softball and golf, where one side dominates the twisting and swinging motions. A wrist injury, Regnier says, might be related to a lack of rotation in the hip and spine creating more force for the hand to bear. Regnier says workouts should pay attention to strengthening the less dominant side of the body to ensure muscle balance. Once you're aware of your movements, Regnier says, relax and let your body do the rest. Add in a dose of encouragement and confidence, and you'll soon be leaving those aches and pains in the dust. July 2012

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Off-Road Athlete ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////// Neil Tajchman by Lisa Loewen For most high school athletes, summer brings a much needed break from the rigors of training and competition. For Seaman Sophomore Neil Tajchman, however, summer just heats up the track as he races his way to the finish line. Neil has been racing motocross since he was 5 years old. His dad, Glenn, used to ride when he was younger and loved the sport, so as soon as Neil learned to ride a bicycle without training wheels, his dad put him on a 50cc dirt bike and turned him loose. The CR250 Honda that Neil now rides is a far cry from that pee wee bike, but the thrill of racing hasn’t lost its appeal. Clearing a 140-foot jump, at 30 feet in the air or riding full speed through the whoops into a sharp hairpin turn might

but that hasn’t deterred him from hitting the jumps harder or pushing his speed in the corners. In fact, all he could think about when injuries prevented him from riding, was getting back on the bike. Racing season for Neil goes from April to November. He competes in approximately 40 races a year traveling as far as Tennessee and Colorado. While he may make it look easy, keeping a 220 lb bike upright through jumps and sharp turns, while wearing 30 lbs of gear, it takes strength and endurance. To prepare for a race, Neil works on strengthening his core, building his endurance through running, step workouts and bicycling, and

“I just trust myself and push myself to the limit.” – Neil Tajchman // Seaman High School // Sophomore seem reckless to the motocross novice, but with 10 years of racing experience under his tires, it’s just another race for Neil. “I don’t think about getting hurt. I look past that. I just trust myself and push myself to the limit—but not over the limit because that’s when you get hurt.” Neil has broken both his collar bones and his foot racing,

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with track workouts on his bike. “I ride whenever I can,” Neil says. “When the weather is too dry, the track gets slick and too dangerous to ride, so I have to keep in shape other ways.” Neil races in the 250 class, so his competition is mostly 17 to 19-year-olds. Last year, Neil qualified for two events at Loretta Lynn’s, the super

July 2012


bowl of amateur motocross. Only 42 kids out of all of the riders in the nation make it into each class. This year he won’t be trying to qualify because his dad (team manager, mechanic and wallet) will be away on business. But next year, Neil plans to have everyone at Loretta Lynn’s eating his dust. When he isn’t racing around the track, motocross gives Neil and his dad more time together than the average family—from hours in the truck traveling to races, to full days out at the track watching the riders, to

time spent working on the bikes. “I just love it,” Glenn says. “I like to see the competitiveness and it is such a family sport.” Motocross riders can turn pro at 16. But only one percent of amateurs actually make it. Neil isn’t too worried about that right now. “First, I have to turn 16,” Neil says. “And then I have to step it up.” If that dream of riding professionally doesn’t pan out, Neil says he will be a radiologist who

races dirt bikes. For now, he is content to revel in the roar of the motors, breathe in the smell of the exhaust and enjoy the camaraderie of those who share the love of motocross.

The Fast Lane If you won the lottery, how would you spend the money? Pay off my parent's house and save for the future. What is your favorite meal? Pizza What is your dream car or vehicle if price didn't matter? 1969 Camaro What is your favorite day of the week and why? Friday—the weekend starts. What do you want to be when you grow up? A radiologist. Who is your role model? Ricky Carmichael If you could travel to any place, where would you go? Germany

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top spot ////////////////////////////////// Katy Evenson by Lisa Loewen

Urchanko i Front giants i Straddlebacks i Side aerials i Back handspring, back hand spring on beam i Back handspring, layout, full i

This is Katy Evenson’s summer list. Most 14-year-olds don’t have a summer list, and, if they do, it is a list of daily chores provided by their parents. Katy’s list is a little more difficult. It involves performing incredibly difficult gymnastics moves on the vault, balance beam, uneven bars and floor. Katy’s parents signed her up for a gymnastics class when she was four after finding her sitting in a perfect middle split watching television. Why let that kind of flexibility go to waste? From that first class, she knew she had found her sport. She began competing at age seven and dedicated her time, energy and passion to

Her body is constantly sore—aching shoulders and knees, sprained ankles and wrists. The time she spends at the gym is time she doesn’t get to spend hanging out with friends, socializing, participating in other sports or simply vegetating. But she would make the same choice if she had the chance to do it all over again. “There is nothing like that feeling of mastering a move you never thought you could do,” Katy says. “It makes all of the pain and hard work worth it.” As a freshman at Topeka

“There is nothing like that feeling of mastering a move you never thought you could do.” - Katy Evenson // Topeka West // Freshman gymnastics. Gymnastics is a demanding sport, both physically and mentally. Katy trains four hours a day, three days a week year round.

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West next year, Katy hopes to try sports other than gymnastics. She is going out for volleyball and diving.


The Fast Lane

“The best thing about being a gymnast is that I am already an athlete in top physical condition, so I should be physically prepared to handle almost any sport,” Katy says. The challenge will be fitting another sport into an already crammed training schedule and finding time to study for three honors classes. Many gymnasts give up competition when they go to high school because they can’t fit everything in. Katy is going to give it a try for at least one more year. “My best friend gave up gymnastics last year because after 10 years of constant pounding, her body was kind of worn out,” Katy says. “Even though sometimes I am tempted to walk away, I’m just not ready to give it up yet.” That dedication makes CAGE owner and coach Triny Tolbert smile. “Katy has so much drive and so much inner ambition,” Triny says. “She never complains— she goes out and puts in the work.” After a bit of arm twisting, Katy finally admits that, as a Level 8 gymnast at CAGE, she holds the top spot at the gym. “I look around at all of those little girls at CAGE and I am a little overwhelmed because they really are watching me and looking up to me,” Katy says. When she finally does decide to quit competing, Katy doesn’t plan to pack away her leotard. She wants to teach at CAGE—after all, she grew up there.

If you won the lottery, how would you spend the money? I would travel around the world and open a gym. What is your favorite meal? My mom's ribs and mashed potatoes. If you could pick one talent that you don't already have, what would it be? To be able to sing. What is your dream car or vehicle if price didn't matter? Mustang What is your favorite day of the week and why? Saturday because I get to sleep and hang out with my family. Who are your role models? My parents. If you could travel to any place, where would you go? Paris If a genie granted you 3 wishes, what would you ask for? Be famous. Win the Olympics. Be happy forever.

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rodeo girl /////// Natalie Davis by MELISSA BRUNNER

Natalie Davis has been tossed from a horse many times, but her most serious injury came from a sudden stop during track practice her sophomore year. What she thought was a bad back strain got worse heading into fall volleyball. Natalie was diagnosed with a fractured vertebra. "It was awful. It felt like there was a rock constantly jabbing my back," Natalie said. But it would take more than a broken back to keep the recent Seaman High School graduate out of the saddle. Natalie began riding when she was four-years old, started in rodeos soon after and became a regular in competitions by seventh grade. The self-professed tomboy says she would rather spend a day in the country than shopping, and admits her recent high school graduation was among the handful of times she’s worn heels. "Horses were always my thing. I grew up around them," she said. "They kind of chose me." It's been a winning relationship. Natalie competes in barrel racing, where the rider takes a

“I’ll be doing it until I die or can’t walk!” - Natalie Davis // 2012 Seaman High Graduate horse full-speed around three barrels in a cloverleaf pattern, and pole bending, where the horse and rider weave through a series of six poles in a show of agility and speed. She is a three-time National High School Rodeo qualifier in pole bending, earning the Kansas State Championship in eighth grade. Natalie compares the horse to a teammate and she's had Spook on her team her whole life. "He's pretty much my best friend," she says. "(Horses) understand a lot more. They're definitely more forgiving." When it comes to rodeo, Natalie says, people are often misunderstood. Yes, she has the cowboy hat, cowboy boots

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and big belt buckles, but underneath the stereotypes lie some true athletes. “People don’t realize the physical strength you have to have to work a horse and get through a pattern,” she explains. “Horses are really strong, so, when you’re riding a crazy, souped-up barrel horse waiting to get through the gate, you have to hold on as tight as you can. When you’re going through the pattern, their adrenaline is going, yours is going.” Natalie is hooked on the feeling. During rodeo season, she works with her horses five days a week, at least an hour and a half a day. She competed in high school volleyball and track, but, when those sports started to interfere with rodeo preparations and competitions, she chose horses. She admits it can be awkward when friends ask about her weekend plans. “I don’t get asked a lot of questions about rodeo because people don’t know what to ask,” she laughs. Natalie will soon find herself in the audience more often than on

the arena floor. She’s headed to Ft. Hays State University to study nursing, which means a break from competition. However, she sees horses in her future. She’d like to train and break horses, taming them for people to ride. She’s already had success with the process. “I was scared at first, not sure how it would go,” she said. “You definitely have to get their trust and then you have to build up that trust so they know they’ll be okay.” Don’t count rodeo out of the picture, either. “I’ll be doing it until I die or can’t walk!” she said.

The Fast Lane What is your favorite meal? Chipotle© What is your dream car or vehicle if price didn’t matter? 2012 Camaro with pink hood and roof. “I saw it on Pinterest!” What is your pet peeve? When people call me “Nat.” If you could travel to any place where would you go? Puerto Rico. My grandfather is from there and he died when I was 10. It would be neat to see where he’s from. Who is your role model? My dad. He works really hard all the time and he always went to rodeos with me. No matter what, he was always there. He gave up a lot so I could rodeo.

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athlete to airman /////////////////////////////////////////////////// Emily Wagemaker by KAREN RIDDER A month ago, Emily Wagemaker was competing in the state track tournament. Today, she is in the middle of boot camp. This Topeka High graduate and athlete is joining an elite group, one of only 1020 Freshman Cadets at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO. Emily was born on an Air Force base in North Dakota, but when she was just a few weeks old her dad separated from the

Air Force and moved his family to Topeka. It wasn’t until the summer after her sophomore year at Topeka High School that a trip to Colorado piqued her interest in applying for the Air Force Academy. She attended a four-day camp last summer for students interested in the process. There, she met cadets, learned about the academy and even spent a day in a mock boot camp. Emily thought applying was a long shot, but decided to go for it.

“I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. It was pretty intense.” - Emily Wagemaker // 2012 Topeka High Graduate

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“I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. It was a lot more involved than any of the other colleges I applied to. It was pretty intense,” she said. Facing the type of stiff competition required to get in to the academy was nothing new for Wagemaker, she was a four-year letter earner at Topeka High in cross country, swimming and track, and qualified for state three years in cross country and track. Her ambition and dedication to hard work didn’t stop on the field. Emily is an accomplished pianist who earned ones at state competition. She played the clarinet in the Topeka High marching band and the tenor saxophone in the jazz band. She was also a member of the

National Honor Society and the English National Honor Society, and the president of the Fellowship of Christian Students. This excellent student-athlete maintained a 3.8 GPA despite being a year younger than the rest of her class because she skipped seventh grade. “Everything she touches turns out well,” explains her dad, Bill. Mom, Brenda, says Emily has the focus to look at the task ahead and accomplish it. “She likes to organize and lead and has a gift in doing that,” explains Brenda. Those gifts served her well in going through the application process for the academy. The Wagemakers say about 60,000 kids start the process of applying. Only about 12,000 complete it. Of those, just over 1000 are offered an appointment. Though Emily had gone through the extensive process to apply that required sitting for interviews with lawmakers, getting letters of recommendation and even hiring a personal trainer to prepare for the physical readiness test, she still was not convinced she would get the appointment. Emily had just signed papers and a letter of intent for another college, when a letter from Representative Lynn Jenkins came in the mail at the end of March. Her parents delivered it to track practice. While Mom and Dad didn’t know for sure what the letter said, the timing gave them a clue. Typical of her style, she went online the next


morning to accept the appointment. While this cadet in training says she is not looking forward to boot camp, she is excited for the new challenges ahead, and the opportunities she will have in the Air Force. “There’s a lot less worries I have to figure out, and my life’s kind of figured out for me for the next few years,” said Emily. “I enjoy leading. So, learning those leadership skills, and also having a job when I get out of college is going to be nice – a guaranteed job.”

The Fast Lane If you won the lottery, how would you spend the money? I’m really bad at spending money. I would probably just save most of it and maybe take some trips. What’s your favorite meal? Pasta. If you had a dream car or vehicle what would it be? We have a big blue 12-passenger bus. I really like big busses. Who is your role model? My mother is such a great leader in our house and selflessly giving herself to everyone in our family and other people in the community. If a genie gave you a wish what would it be? Skip basic training.

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COACH TALK MARK ELLIOTt OF WIBW 580 AM SPORTSTALK TALKS WITH BRETt COWDIN, HEAD BASEBALL COACH OF THE ROSSVILLE HIGH SCHOOL DAWGS AND THE NEW MINOR LEAGUE ROSSVILLE RATTLERS. MARK ELLIOTT: You’re a big baseball guy, what made you love the game of baseball so much. COWDIN: My father used to take my brother and I to play baseball all the time out at the lake. He would pick up all of our friends who didn’t have parents who would go to the games and take them with us. I loved the competition, the ability to bunt, hit and throw strikes, and to be a part of a team. It just gets in your blood. ELLIOTT: I grew up in Silver Lake and we have had baseball forever, but the Topeka schools didn’t start playing until later. You started the baseball program at Highland Park. COWDIN: Back in 1992, Sherman Parks and Billy Moore were very instrumental in getting baseball started in 501. They fundraised, organized and begged principals and the administration. I was lucky enough to be coaching football at Highland Park with Ken Caywood at that time. They approached me about starting baseball and I was thrilled. That first year in 1992, we had a very good baseball team at Highland Park, I think we ended up 11-9. I was only there one year, and Coach Tom Stringer talked me into coming over to Hayden. ELLIOTT: So after a state title at Hayden, you went on to Topeka West baseball, and, another state title. COWDIN: I had a group of kids, including my oldest son, Tike,

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that I had brought up playing baseball out at the lake from the time that they were eight years old. We had some great kids: Blair Johnson, who later pitched in the Pirate organization; Chris Carlson; Adam Schroeder; Joey Devine; Cody Quick, who later played at KU; Gary Woodland; I could go on and on and on. We ended up getting a state championship in 2003. It was a fun ride. I’m a real good coach when I have talent. [Chuckles] ELLIOTT: Bill Arnold coached his son, CJ coached all his sons, and I played for my dad. How special was it to coach your son to a state championship? COWDIN: That’s something that I could never repeat again, probably the highlight of an athletic career. ELLIOTT: And Tike is now in North Carolina? COWDIN: Yes, he’s an assistant director of football operations for the Tar Heels. Last fall, I’m walking the field out at Wabunsee and he calls me from Death Valley in Clemson and says he’s walking the field at the same time. So, I’ve coached 30 years and he’s coached three; I don’t know the parallel to that, but something’s wrong. [Chuckles] ELLIOTT: Having grown up in the Rossville-Silver Lake rivalry, the attitudes are a part of the game. From watching your younger son play at Silver Lake and from coaching at Rossville, what have you experienced?

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COWDIN: You hear a lot about Silver Lake-Rossville, but until you experience it in person, you don’t understand. Kids are kids, but in Rossville and Silver Lake it’s a passion, sometimes a little bit overly, but I’d rather have it that way. A lot of times in the city, its so big that sometimes you lose your neighborhood. In Rossville and Silver Lake there’s no question what neighborhood you’re from, and I love that. I came from the outside so I see things a little bit different than they do. They’re great people, and the Rossville-Silver Lake is not a rivalry because they’re both crappy; it’s a rivalry because they’re both good. And I hope to make it even more of a

How was your time on the baseball side of things at Rossville? COWDIN: Fantastic, we’ve taken a lot of steps forward and like you said, the last two years we haven’t beat Alan and the Eagles in the final, but we battle with them, we’re getting close. We were 19-4 this year, that’s not terrible, but we need to get better. And we have kids with great talent, but we need to be tougher in our minds. Since I’ve been there the past two years I’ve seen the gap closing, and I hope I’m there long enough to get it closed completely. But, if you’re competing with those guys (Silver Lake), you’re doing something right.

“In Rossville and Silver Lake there’s no question what neighborhood you’re from, and I love that.” rivalry by the time we’re all said and done. ELLIOTT: Now as the Rossville baseball coach, you beat Silver Lake during the regular season; it comes down to the regional finals, Silver Lake wins. Alan Cunningham and the Eagles go back to state, 20 out of the last 21 years with 15 state titles. “Brett Cowdin, you don’t know squat, you beat them and now it doesn’t matter.” I mean that’s the kind of stuff you deal with.


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ELLIOTT: Rossville Rattlers. You and your brother started the Golden Giants, you give it to John Tetuan and let him take over with the reigns, then sell it. Kent Becker coaches with Tetuan and you coached both of them at Hayden to a state title. So, now you go to Rossville, and who in the world would think a 240-foot right field is perfect for summer college baseball, but the Cowdin boys. So the first year of the Rossville Rattlers, what made you think “let’s do this?” COWDIN: The first time I walked on the field I looked up in the stands and knew I had to do something with that stadium. And the kids around here didn’t have any place to play. That’s why we started the Giants originally, and we got away from it. I wanted to play baseball, and I wanted the kids to have a place to play baseball after they graduate high school. JUCO, Washburn, Emporia State kids can come here and play.

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Brad Hill at Kansas State University sends his guys over every year to work on their core training. This year I’ve got three pitchers and a shortstop from there. ELLIOTT: You know, for the families, the park has all new kinds of equipment and the pool. It’s really a pretty neat setting. COWDIN: The city of Rossville has bent over backwards trying to help us get that place ready. And we’re ready. We have everything we need right there. If you want to just take a drive out in the country to see old hardcore baseball, that’s what you’re going to see. ELLIOTT: All right, you’re a special education teacher, a behaviorist who worked out at Menninger’s, and you’re getting ready to go out on the speaking circuit. Tell us about the all of the stuff you’re doing outside of baseball?

July 2012

C O W D IN : Well, I gotta have something to do when I retire Mark. You know, Special Ed teachers don’t make a whole lot of money; and if you’re doing it for the money then you’re doing it for the wrong reason. There have been some life-changing events in my life, and I’ve had a lot of people tell me “you need to talk to people about your stories.” I think I have some good stories that will make people think and make better decisions. ELLIOTT: Well Brett, have a great summer with the Rattlers. Football is going to be rolling around and Coach Buhler and you will be out there going against C.J.; then its back to

baseball. It just keeps going on and on. I’m sure you’ll be having a lot of fun and continued success.


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local media icon

ann williamson Sports Photographer | The Topeka Capital-Journal

How did you come to be a sports photographer? I was really terrible at sports in high school, but I really liked sports and also really liked to read the newspaper and see what pictures my hometown photographers would put in the next day’s paper. When I finally got to photograph a few basketball and football games for the yearbook and newspaper, as a junior in high school, I was hooked. I haven’t willingly went back to the stands since.

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I’m able to use my knowledge of sports to cover the sports we cover. I was also lucky in high school because my school’s head football coach, Gary Ekegren, explained the game to me and how the sport moves. I’d probably still be lost without that. What is your favorite sport to photograph? Basketball, mostly because it was the sport I played the most growing up and I know the best. July 2012

Really, all of the sports we cover are beautiful in their own ways and all are different enough that I never get bored. Who is your favorite sportscaster or sports photographer? I’ve been extremely blessed to work with a lot of really great photographers in my career and I’ve tried to soak up everything I can from them, but my favorite are probably the photographers at the Missoulian--Kurt Wilson,

Michael Gallacher and Tom Bauer--who helped me out a lot in high school and college. It just shows that it is always good to ask questions; and they’ve answered thousands of mine. What’s the best advice you have ever received? Get closer. And your legs are your best zoom lens. continued on pg. 22


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If you could photograph any athlete, who would it be? Why? My nephew, Chance Maes, who will be a sophomore in high school at Missoula Big Sky High School. He’s the youngest of my nieces and nephews and it would be nice to go home and photograph him in a few games next season. At least one is my goal.

What’s the one thing that would surprise people about you? I’m pretty shy. The camera is a nice security blanket. Who is your role model? Why? I don’t know if I have just one role model. I’m inspired by anyone who is brave enough to follow their dreams, whether

it is sports, music, acting or just standing up for what you believe in. How did you meet your husband, Kansas First News Sports Director Alex Wiebel? We don’t actually know where we first met. Being on the sidelines, we used to run into each other quite a bit, but

didn't make the connection for a few years. About two months before we started dating we were both at Jefferson West High School to cover Briar Ploude in the high jump. It was probably at that point where we both realized we liked each other.

Ann went to Big Sky High School in Missoula, Montana and then the University of Montana. She has been in Topeka since 2002. Ann has covered SEC and Big 12 sports, but enjoys photographing high school sports the best.

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P E R S E V E R A N C E 24

Inspirational Athlete:

Kyle Snyder by KAREN RIDDER

“My dad always wanted me to do my best and be proud of myself and what I do. My mom always said, whatever happens be happy. That whatever happens, everything is going to be okay.”

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The morning after Kyle Snyder’s mom was killed in a car accident, he went on a long run. It wasn’t to clear his mind or to run away, but to keep going with what his parents had always taught him: Do your best, do the things you enjoy and whatever happens believe everything is going to be okay. This recently graduated Topeka High School cross country and track star has shown perseverance through difficulties. His approach to life and athletics has made him an MVP Inspirational Athlete.

THE TRAINING SCHEDULE Most mornings, Kyle is up by 5:00 a.m. He hits the road by 5:15 a.m. and puts in more miles by 6:00 a.m. than his competitors may do all week. Then he does it again at the end of the day. He’s a runner who believes that winning in the long run is accomplished by literally doing the long runs. “I put in a lot more distance than anyone around the area. I put in as much distance as just about anyone in Kansas,” explains Kyle.

THE CHOICE Kyle started out as a soccer player. He loved the sport, and played it until middle school. Then, when the only spring-time sport available at his school was track, he decided to try it. He realized quickly he was not the fastest sprinter on the team, but he could keep going long after the other kids had stopped. Kyle’s dad suggested he run the mile, and Kyle started winning – every meet. He decided he liked running better than soccer because it pushed him to be his individual best. “In running, it’s you – everything you’ve got verses everything the guy next to you has,” says Kyle.

THE COMPETITOR His motivation to start training hard came from the guy next to him, a competitor in his eighth grade year that would usually beat him in races by just a few yards. After spending the season as his close second, Kyle was motivated to put in the hard work to start winning. By the time he was a freshman at Topeka High, Kyle was running between 60 and 70 miles a week. When he ran his first cross country race in JV, he finished in a faster time than any of the other runners from his school. Kyle went on that year to break freshman records and prove he was the fastest longdistance runner on the team. Sophomore year started well for Kyle. He was now running between 70 and 80 miles a week. He qualified for state in cross country and was expecting a good track season. Then he got sick.

THE 14- MONTH SICKNESS At first they thought it was just a cold he couldn’t shake. He felt bad. He had a fever. He started coughing hard enough on the starting line that other runners kept their distance wondering what was wrong. That was what his parents wondered too. They started what would become a 14-month journey through a variety of doctors, specialists and misdiagnoses. Kyle was on antibiotics time and again until finally in June of 2011 a doctor took one look at his throat and said he needed to have his tonsils and adenoids removed. During this time, Kyle did not let up in his training. Through his junior year his weekly mileage increased to between 80 and 90 miles a week. Then after that operation last summer, Kyle took his weekly running totals to over 100 miles a week. But when cross country

season started Kyle still wasn’t convinced he was really better. Then he put a few races in and didn’t find himself coughing after a hard race. Coaches were noticing how fast he was running. He was finally getting confidence that his illness was behind him. It looked like it was going to be the season he had hoped for and worked towards. Then, disaster came.

THE ACCIDENT One morning, his mom left on a regular business trip and didn’t come back. Her car was in an accident on the Interstate and she died. The day before, she had cheered him on at a meet. Kyle had said goodbye before hitting the shower after a long run. “The car wreck was disastrous,” explained Kyle’s dad, Dennis, as he described why Kyle’s perseverance inspires him, “and not something you plan for or think about. It was horrible, but he was ready to go out running that next morning.” On that run, Kyle explained to his dad an idea to put together a tribute to his mother, Audra, on Facebook. That next Saturday, Kyle was back out at his next cross country meet, competing despite the fact that his whole world had changed. “Everything is different. Nothing is the same. Whether it’s my training or racing or getting ready for bed at night, it’s all different without my mom around. It put everything askew,” says Kyle. But Kyle says his continuing on is not necessarily as a tribute to his mom’s passing, but rather as an indicator of how she raised him. Both of his parents traveled a lot as a part of their business. When they were gone, they expected the boys to carry on with their normal routines until they returned. So carrying on with the normal routines feels natural to Kyle. It’s the reason he went on July 2012

with his cross country season, then tried out for the school musical, kept his grades up, made plans for college and went on to have a successful track season.

THE INSPIRATION “My mom has really inspired me, but not in the way I think everyone really thinks she has,” he explains. “My dad always wanted me to do my best and be proud of myself and what I do. My mom always said, whatever happens, be happy. That whatever happens, everything is going to be okay.” So, it shouldn’t be surprising that after coming home from the state track tournament, Kyle got up the next morning and ran 12 miles to start training for the next stop on his journey. He keeps going. He perseveres. “Whatever I do I’m going to work harder to do better than everyone else. Whether people beat me or not, I’m going to have fun doing it. But I’m going to work harder to beat everyone that I race,” says Kyle.

THE NEXT JOURNEY He plans to run at KU in the fall. The school has a long history of famous long distance runners and Kyle has already studied their stories. One day, he hopes his own story of hard work, determination and perseverance will help him go the distance it will take to join their ranks.

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MADE IN SHAWNEE COUNTY J. B. BAUERSFELD, WIBW-TV SPORTS ANCHOR, TALKS WITH NCAA SWIMMING CHAMPION AND FORMER TOPEKA HIGH STANDOUT, SHARA STAFFORD. Shara Stafford won multiple state titles and set state records as a swimmer at Topeka High School. She went on to the University of Florida and won a national title as a member of the 200 freestyle relay and as a team in 2010. Despite her success in the pool, health issues and homesickness convinced Stafford that a change was in order.

very beginning of January (of my junior year at the University of Florida) that I passed out in the pool and it turned into a huge liability issue. So they had to do testing. I was actually out of the water for about six weeks trying to figure out what was wrong. At one point they told me I could have a life-threatening disease. They told me that while I was in the hospital, by

never going to forget. Even when I think about it two years later, I get so excited. Not everybody can say that they’re an NCAA Champion, not only on a relay, but also as a team. We actually went into the meet and we didn’t have expectations of winning at all. I think we were maybe seventh the year before. We were just looking to go and have fun. I was on the very last relay and coach pulled the four of us aside and said, “You know you guys can win this meet right.” We all just kind of laughed at him and were like “whatever.” Then, he showed us the points and that we could actually win. And at that point we all started freaking out. I think three out of the four of us were hysterically crying. JB: Were you one of those three?

Shara Stafford as she competes in the 200-yard individual medley at the Big 12 Championships for Mizzou in 2012. - photo from Columbia Daily Tribune J.B. Bauersfeld (JB): You went to Florida out of High School, but decided to transfer to the University of Missouri for your senior year; what went into that decision? Shara Stafford (SS): There were a lot of different things that made me make the decision. I realized how much I didn’t like being away from my family. It was hard to be away for all of the big holidays and the birthdays. Then, just last year, I had a lot of health issues. I wanted to be closer to home.

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I was ready for a change. JB: The heath issues, were those injuries? SS: Actually, over the past five or six years I would kind of pass out while I was working out. It started at a meet in high school… JB: [interrupting] I think I have that video somewhere. SS: GREAT! [laughs] Usually it happened during dry land (training), but I think it was the July 2012

myself, with no coaches, no teammates, no family. That was a lot to handle. It turns out that I have something called vasovagal syncope. Once I got on medication, I was able to get back in the pool. JB: You won a national title when you were at Florida. Can you take me back to that meet and tell me what the experience was like for you? SS: It’s definitely something I’m

SS: Oh definitely! I don’t remember why I was crying. We were all a mess. As soon as the last person touched the wall, I knew we had won. Nobody had expected us to win. It was really exciting to go in with no expectations and then come out having accomplished the highest goal in NCAA swimming. Those are memories that I’ll share with my children down the road. It still motivates me to this day. JB: You’ve been on our radar since you were 14. How has the success you attained at a young age molded you? SS: I’ve definitely turned into less of a basket case [laughs]. When you are younger, you continued on pg. 28


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think you’re pretty great and then you go outside of Kansas and realize, maybe I’m not as good as I thought I was. Going into college, I had a lot of confidence in myself, but we raced Olympians and big names. I definitely struggled my freshman year because I went from winning everything and being at the top to having to really fight for what I wanted. I realized that if I really wanted something, it wasn’t just going to be handed to me. It definitely made me a stronger person. JB: Now that your eligibility is done, what’s next for you? SS: I’ve changed up my training the last couple of months to train for the (Olympic) trials. I’m planning on that being my last meet and finishing out my career. JB: Is there any hope that you land a spot? SS: There’s always the hope that you’re going to make it. If everything were to work out in my favor, I have a chance of being in an outside spot in a relay. You never know. Everybody is really fast this year, so I’m just looking to give it everything I have and we’ll see what happens.

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JB: If that does happen to be your last meet, what next? SS: I still have another year left of school. I’ll finish out my degree (at Mizzou), and I offered to hang out and help the team. I’m planning on going to grad school. I definitely have a few more years of school. JB: What were some of the benefits for swimming in Topeka and for Topeka Swim Association and Topeka High? SS: The best thing that comes from a smaller club team in the Midwest is the friendships. I am still best friends with people that I met 12 years ago. I still talk to my coach (Bill Rose) and I spent last summer (training in Colorado) with him. The people I met in Topeka are going to be in my life forever.

Shara Stafford named Big 12 Newcomer of the Year in 2012 at Mizzou - photo from Columbia Daily Tribune


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coaches’ corner

Who is your hero? THE POWER OF PARENTS Baseball Coach Brett Cowdin // Rossville “My father, Larry Cowdin, and Coach Ken Caywood are my heroes. My father taught me to treat people with respect. He taught me to persevere even when times were tough. Coach Caywood was the best coach I’ve ever had the honor of coaching under. He walked the walk. He cared about his players and his coaches, and taught us to care for each other. He taught me how to win with class and lose with dignity; and that there was much more to coaching than wins and losses.”

Softball Coach Brenda Holaday // Washburn Rural “My mom. She is a great role model in all that I do. She has a great passion for life. She raised my three brothers and I as a single mom. While we may not have had a lot of money, we had an abundance of love. She taught us about work ethic, responsibility, loyalty and unselfishness. She is still my greatest fan and my best friend.”

Baseball Coach Chad Brown // Highland Park “I had a lot of baseball players that I loved; Will Clark and Nolan Ryan were two. But my father was the person that I always looked up to. He was the man most responsible for my love of baseball. He went to work every day, at a job that he didn’t particularly enjoy, and would always have time for my brother and me when he got home. I can’t tell you how many hours we played catch in the yard. I don’t think that I would be a baseball coach today if it weren’t for my dad.”

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Baseball Coach Daniel Voth // Topeka High “My dad taught me how to compete and do things the right way, not necessarily the easy way. He was one of my coaches and always treated me like the other players; (he) didn’t play me because I was his son. That taught me to work for everything. I didn’t understand or like it then, but he prepared me for my future as a college athlete and I am very thankful for that now. My dad also provided me with opportunities to play sports even if they weren’t available in the town where we lived. I can’t remember a single tournament or game that he missed because he had to be somewhere else. He was always there. He wasn’t afraid to put me back in my place when I got a little cocky either, and I very much love him for that. My mom was always my biggest supporter. I can’t remember a game that she didn’t attend. She was always on my side and win or lose I would get a big hug from her at the end of the day. She also had to spend a lot of hours alone while dad and I were working on the ball fields all summer long and all the time we spent in gyms and on the road away from home. Whenever I need something she is there, even today. She also had to endure some of the fights that father and son brought home that should have been left between coach and player. She is the strongest person I know.”

Softball Coach Mark Workman // Silver Lake “My parents, past coaches and colleagues. All of these people taught me about the important things in life—character, integrity and focus.”


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H E A R T C A R I N G . C O M


July MVP: Shawnee County High School Sports Magazine