On Friday at noon, the USD 428 Hall of Fame committee presented the 2016 Hall of Fame recipients, Shannon Schartz and Ty Cobb, to the many well-wishers, friends, family members and alumni of Great Bend High School who gathered for the annual Hall of Fame banquet at The Club at Stone Ridge.
Mark Mingenback was the master of ceremonies, and welcomed everyone before introducing Athletic Director Dave Meter who recognized committee members.
After the meal, Mingenback first introduced Schartz, a member of the class of 1970 and recently retired from an over 40-year career as a teacher and coach at Great Bend High School.
“It has always been Shannon’s goal that players should enjoy the game of tennis as much as he does. He also believed the game should be fun and that the fun should last a lifetime,” he said.
He continued to bullet point Schartz’ tennis career, both as a player and a coach. Beyond the honors, Schartz offered free tennis lessons to Great Bend and other Barton County students for the past 20 years, as well as a free tennis camp each summer.
Five members of the GBHS 1998 5A championship girls tennis team, Kiley (Metro) Klug, Melanie (Schartz) Lewis, Kayci (Davidson) Comeau, and Gerrie (Koehler) Meyer reported to the podium to honor their former coach and friend. Klug spoke for her teammates, remembering his honesty as a driving factor in the team’s success. To underscore this, she shared a story about the motivation offered the team that helped them win their championship. Schartz had agreed to allow the girls to shave his head if they won, she recalled.
“He was a good colleague as well as a good coach,” she continued. Klug returned to teach for USD 428 after graduating from college, and remembered interactions with Schartz as a bright spot in every day.
Schartz endured several health challenges over the past three years, she noted. Through it all, he had continued to maintain his “glass half-full attitude.”
When Schartz took the podium, he shared that while he had never planned to become a coach, he could never say no. Schartz returned to Great Bend High School after college, and agreed to coaching several different sports over his early years, including wrestling, track, volleyball and basketball.
“In 1978, they asked me to coach boys and girls tennis teams, and I thought finally, someone is asking me to do something I actually know how to do,” he said.
He would spend the next 37 years coaching the sport. The support he received from his family, parents and the administration made it possible, he said. He thanked Meter for his dedication to Great Bend sports. He also noted the 28 years of effort from Activities Secretary Lana Wolf, who he noted took on extra work so the coaches could focus on the kids.
He remembered fondly Assistant Girls Tennis Coach Jeff Langrehr, who he credited with building the girls tennis team to greater than 30 members during his time as coach. Other assistant coaches noted included Barbara “Barbie” Harris, Zac Bartel and Renee Buntain, who was credited with starting the middle school tennis program.
Recalling his three children growing up around tennis, he noted that one of his fondest memories was when the team, which included one of his daughters, won the 1998 5A State Championship. His wife, Jennifer Schartz, stood by him, and helped with many tennis dinners and took numerous parent calls when matches ran late, he said.
The tennis lessons were made possible because tennis team parents helped organize and teach. His team included many honor roll students too, he said.
“I’m very proud of the number of doctors, lawyers and other professionals our players have become,” he said. “And I’d also like to thank all the past players who returned to help with tennis lessons over the years.”
Schartz stated he has a lifetime of great memories, and it was noted he is once again planning to provide free tennis lessons over the summer even into retirement.
Mingenback then introduced class of 1968 graduate Ty Cobb as a man who has made a difference in the world. An international lawyer and leader at the law firm Hogan Lovells, Cobb is widely recognized as one of the premier white collar, Securities and Exchange Commission enforcement, global bribery and corruption and Congressional investigations lawyers in the world. He was recently recognized in one industry publication, Super Lawyers Magazine, as “the big gun on which powerful people rely,” Mingenback said.
Cobb asked the assembly to observe a moment of silence for the victims of the mass shooting at Hesston and Newton that happened Thursday, Feb. 25.
Then, he expressed his appreciation, stating it as an honor to be there.
“It’s very important in life to know where you came from,” he began. “Though I left here in 1969, it’s means a lot to know the place where I grew up remembers me fondly.”
He recognized many friends, classmates and teachers in the audience, and recalled the period in history when he grew up.
To Cobb, the Great Bend of the 1950s and 1960s was a perfect time, and he listed many institutions and mentors he’d had, including Carl Soden of the Great Bend Recreation Center, and teacher Homer Kruckenberg.
Soden gave Cobb his first real job and he worked there for six years, he recalled. Soden pushed him to persevere, and his oft-said phrase “lean into the wind,” was a guiding sentiment through difficult times in his life.
Kruckenberg, he recalled, had become a mentor and a friend despite the fact he’d never had a class with him in high school. He shared a story of an encounter with Kruckenberg in a hall at the high school one day, expressing his promise to keep an eye on him for his father.
He was an eighth grader at Harrison Junior High, now Great Bend Middle School, when President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed. He recalled how a part-time teacher and part-time reporter for The Great Bend Tribune, John Stoss, had been assigned to his homeroom class that day. He helped the students gain some perspective on the national tragedy. He also shared a story about how his name had landed him in the principal’s office that day, and had created a bond between him and Stoss who went on to report on his high school baseball career for years afterward.
He introduced his wife, his children and his siblings who had all traveled various distances to be there with him that afternoon.
It was the lessons he learned here, in Great Bend, that had the greatest impact on his life, he said. Cobb went on to study at Harvard University, worked with legislators on Capitol Hill, and enjoyed an interesting life and career as an international white-collar investigative lawyer, meeting international dignitaries and world leaders. But, he added, he is never far from Great Bend.
“It is apparent to anyone who walks into my office,” he said. He listed several historic photos of Great Bend that hang there. “Great Bend is where I’m from, and it is with me daily.”
Both inductees were presented between the girls and boys varsity basketball games at the Friday night game between Great Bend and Hays. Following the games, a reception in their honor was held in the Commons.