Summer is here – or at least near. A time when high school and college sports don’t make much news.
But some former Barton Community College Cougars have been making news lately.
Former Cougar soccer standout Kevin Ellis has made his way into the starting lineup for Sporting Kansas City. Ellis, a local Kansas City kid, has been starting for Sporting KC since last season and scored his first goal of his MLS career Friday in a 4-0 win over Dallas. He also added an assist.
He made his MLS debut in 2013 playing in two games. He started 16 games in 2014 and has started seven of eight games this year. Currently he is the starting center back for the club.
Ellis was part of a Sporting KC Juniors Academy while attending Oak Park (Mo) High School. He spent nearly his entire youth career as a front or middle row player.
He chose Barton for his college, playing the 2009-10 seasons where he helped the Cougars to back-to-back Region VI titles and trips to the NJCAA Tournament. It was his sophomore year at Barton where he first moved into the back row.
In his freshman season Ellis scored 23 goals and eight assists and was named second team All-American. But with Barton thin in the back row his sophomore season – and then coach Oliver Twelvetrees always putting an emphasis on that aspect – he moved the talented player to the back line.
Ellis still scored 11 goals and helped Barton to its highest finish in school history with a third place effort at the NJCAA National Tournament. He was a first team All-American as a sophomore.
His 34 goals and 80 points during his Barton career are school records.
Another former Cougar back in the news is Leevan Sands. Known as Superman in the world of track and field, Sands returned to competitive competition in the triple jump for the first time in nearly three years. He was injured during the 2012 Olympics.
Sands, the Bahamian national record holder as well as the Barton school record holder in the triple jump, made his return at the site of his greatest accomplishment – a bronze medal in the Olympics.
Sands took seventh in his return to the Bird’s Nest in Beijing. He jumped 53-7 in the triple jump in the same stadium he picked up that bronze medal in the 2008 Olympics. It was well short of the 57-8.5 he jumped in the 2008 Olympics but it was a start.
Sands plans to be back at or near full strength by the time the IAAF World Championships roll around in August – also in Beijing. It will be 12 years removed from his first World Championship when he finished third in 2003.
By the time the World Championships roll around this fall Sands will be 34 years old -- among the veterans in the jumping world but he wants another shot at the Olympics in Rio in 2016. If he gets there it would be his fourth Olympics.
During the summer I intend to piece together a few features drawing back to some of the memorable moments in Barton sports history.
Here’s to a good start to everyone’s summer.