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Dr. Matt Friedeman honored at banquet
2018 Great Bend High School Hall of Fame inductee ‘walked along paths of great people’
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Dr. Matt Friedeman addresses a group of friends, family, faculty and alumni at the Great Bend High School Hall of Fame banquet Friday at noon at Great Bend’s Stoneridge Country Club. - photo by Veronica Coons
Great Bend High School Hall of Fame Inductees:

2008 – Skip Yowell, John Keller and Jack Kilby

2009 – Jack Bowman, Sean Murphy and Tim Weiser

2010 – Jenny Allford and Glenn Opie

2011 – Don Halbower and Dan McGovern

2012 – Karla (Bender) Leibham and Bill McKown

2013 – Allen Keiswetter and Celia LaBranche

2014 – George Nossaman and Randy Goering

2015 – Shannon Schartz and Ty Cobb

2016 – Jean Cavanaugh and Mike Goss

2017 – Larry Becker and Jim Calcara

2018 – Dr. Matt Friedeman

Dr. Matt Friedeman, minister, speaker and athletic record setter for discus, was honored Friday as the newest Great Bend High School Hall of Fame member. He is the 23rd to be inducted since the honor was created in 2008.

GBHS faculty, staff and alumni celebrated with a luncheon at Stoneridge Country Club. Master of ceremonies Mark Mingenback said the awards are meant to recognize and honor outstanding alumni who have brought fame to Great Bend High School and fostered a sense of pride for the community. He recognized past inductees who were in attendance. They were Jenny Allford, Don Halbower, Jack Bowman, Randy Goering and Shannon Schartz. He also remembered those Great Bend has lost, including Jack Kilby, Glen Opie and Bill McKown.

GBHS Athletic Director Dave Meter shared how Dr. Friedeman had met with and inspired students and coaches earlier that morning when he visited the high school.

Dr. Friedeman told the audience that when he visits places of historical significance, he likes to imagine the famous people who might have walked along the same paths he currently walks. 

“During my visit to Great Bend this week, I admit I’d never really considered before that I have been walking along the same paths of many great people before me,” he said. “People like Jack Kilby, the inventor of the microchip! Who knew?” 

Friedeman spoke about how his outlook on faith and discipleship was shaped in his early years in Great Bend. At the age of 12, he told his mother he didn’t want to return to the church he had been attending. She allowed this, but insisted he had to live out his faith in some way, and she introduced him to Loren and Marilyn Dykes where he attended their in-home church. There he felt a sense of belonging, and today he looks back on that experience for his inspiration for the DaySpring Community Church in Clinton, Mississippi, where he is pastor. 

While he continued to experience ups and downs in his faith life, he continued to seek, as his mother insisted. Later, in his adult life, a visit to his sister, then living in Goddard, is where he experienced the turning point where he made the decision to attend seminary. It was there that he met his wife Mary and their journey together began. 

Since then, they raised six children, sons Josh, Todd, Kent, Isaiah and Elijah and daughter Eliza. Mary, a serious academic (having been named both valedictorian of her class in high school and in college), home-schooled all six of the children.

His sons were in attendance at the banquet, along with his sister, Lisa Friedeman-Ausley, and his uncle, Dick Friedeman of Great Bend.  

Dr. Friedeman shared many anecdotes about growing up in Great Bend, attending Roosevelt Junior High and Great Bend High School, and the influences teachers and coaches and others had on him in his early years. 

Some of them, past Hall of Famers themselves, were in the audience. He credited Mike Goss (inducted in 2016) with convincing him to focus on discus after beating him in tennis. Jenny Allford (2010), he remembered fondly, encouraged him as a member of the Great Bend High School Madrigals to sing loudly. 

He also remembered Joel Light, a 2019 inductee into the Barton Community College Athletic Hall of Fame. He and Light had both been coached by Ken Cochran and went on to achieve national level status. Light was also in attendance Friday.

“It’s because of these and more like them that I feel I’ve been walking on holy ground,” he said. 

“Perhaps the real Hall of Famer is someone sitting next to you,” Friedeman said. “It’s the sloggers, the diligent, the unheralded, the responsible people who show up day after day, year after year, decade after decade, who are the real Hall of Famers. These are the people that make Great Bend a great place to live and raise a family.” 

He thanked the committee for the honor. “I appreciate you making this a special day for me and my family.” 

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Family of Great Bend High School Hall of Fame inductee Dr. Matt Friedeman attended the banquet, many coming from states away. Pictured here: sons Josh, Todd and Kent Friedeman, sister Lisa Friedeman-Ausley, uncle Dick Friedeman, son Isaiah, Dr. Matt Friedeman, his wife, Mary Friedeman, son Elijah and Mark Mingenback, master of ceremony. - photo by Veronica Coons

Dr. Matt Friedeman’s distinguished career spans a spectrum of media and service

Matt Friedeman is currently a professor of evangelism and discipleship at Wesley Biblical Seminary, Jackson, Miss. When Friedeman, a 1977 GBHS graduate, was in high school, he was an accomplished dual sport athlete, competing in football and track. He still holds the discus record of 198 feet 11 inches. He went on to compete in track and field in college at the University of Kansas, and was named team captain for three years, and achieved honors as a National Collegiate Athletic Association All-American and Big Eight Champion. He was also selected to compete in the 1980 Olympic trials in discuss. 

His career has spanned many communication media, including radio, print and television. He had a daily radio talk show on American Family Radio, was a contributing columnist for the Jackson (Miss.) Clarion-Ledger, and a political commentator for WAPT Channel 16 in Jackson, Miss. Over his career, he has written over 1,200 columns, articles, papers and book chapters. He also traveled around the world as a speaker and leader of seminars. 

He was also the founding pastor of Day Spring Community Church, the mission area coordinator and chaplain at Hinds County Detention Center and Penal Farm in Raymond, Miss., 

In June, 2017, he was interviewed by students at the Wesley Biblical Seminary in Jackson, where he has taught for the past 32 years. His involvement with the penal farm stemmed from an interview he’d conducted on his radio show with the Hinds County Sheriff. The sheriff invited him to visit the penal farm, and after that visit, he began a prison ministry there. Being of service to those who range from felons and sex offenders to those on top of their game and those who have never had a game is a prime example of how Friedeman prefers to live out his faith.

Source: Great Bend USD 428 Public Information Officer Andrea Bauer