Braves Athletic Hall of Fame (BAHOF) History
The Braves Athletic Hall of Fame (“BAHOF”) was established in 1988 to honor student athletes who brought honor to Ottawa University both on the fields of competition, and in their personal lives. To date, 125 individuals have been inducted, and four more are inducted at our annual banquet at homecoming each year. Anyone can nominate a candidate for membership. Athletes are eligible after five years from their graduation. They are then vetted for their athletic record and go on a list of nominees. A committee of coaches and a member of the Executive committee then review the candidates and rate them for further review by the Selection Committee composed of the Executive Committee and members of the athletic department. That committee chooses six candidates, and that list is submitted to the BAHOF membership who elect four each year by majority vote.
For the first few years, the Braves Athletic Hall of Fame ceremony was held in Wilson Fieldhouse, followed by a BBQ buffet. In 2007 we initiated a formal banquet, and the ceremony was moved to the former Mowbry Student Union (now Gibson Student Center) at which time we began awarding scholarships to student athletes who were deserving for their athletic ability and personal character. The BAHOF Scholarship fund was started with a $50,000 gift and a $5,000 transfer from the BAHOF general fund. Originally all BAHOF members contributed $100 to the general fund to sustain the operations of the organization. That was raised to $150 in 2018. BAHOF members, and others, contribute additional funds to support the scholarships. We initially awarded two $1,000 scholarships from our general fund, which was increased to four $1,000 scholarships in 2008 when the scholarship fund was established. Potential recipients are recommended to the Executive Committee by the coaching staff based on their character and contribution to OU athletics.
In 2008 we initiated the Dudley Giese NAIA Champions of Character Award to one male and one female athlete in recognition of their outstanding character in keeping with the guidelines of the NAIA award by the same name. Dudley was a 1953 graduate of OU who spent 35 years teaching and coaching in secondary schools as well as leading FCA huddle groups. Initially the award was for $100 and thanks to the support of the Giese family and Dudley’s former players, the fund has grown to provide $500 annually to a male and female athlete.
At the time the BAHOF Scholarship Fund was created there were existing scholarship funds that had been set up in the names of three legendary OU coaches: Dick Peters, football coach, Bill Frear, basketball coach, and Bill “Bo” Boucek, track coach. BAHOF members played a role in setting up these funds in the past as a way of honoring these coaches. In 2009 permission was granted by the families to move those funds into the BAHOF and they are now a permanent part of the Scholarship Awards at our Annual Banquet. Currently the Peters scholarship is $1,000 to a football player, the Boucek scholarship is $1,000 to a track athlete and the Frear scholarships are two $500 scholarships to a male and female basketball player.
In 2013 The Elaine “Mom“ Pyle Scholarship Fund was transferred to BAHOF, to honor Mom Pyle who was like a mother to many OU athletes. She loved basketball, but not as much as she loved the players on the team. Working in the registrar’s office, Mom Pyle kept a close eye on her team and was a devoted fan for years until her death in 2006. She acted with love and care, inspiring all to reach new heights. The Elaine “Mom” Pyle Scholarship is given to two basketball players who exemplify this same spirit. The award is two $500 scholarships to a male and female basketball player.
In 2015 we initiated the annual “Distinguished Service Award” to recognize those who were major supporters of OU athletics but may not necessarily have been a varsity athlete. Our first award went to Bill Swift, a local businessman who was a strong supporter of our teams and a strong advocate for individual athletes. In 2016, the award was given to former OU President Dr. Andrew B. Martin under whose leadership OU athletics rose to dominance. In 2017, the award went to another local businessman, Jim Grogan, who was a 1954 graduate of OU and former OU athlete and coach. He and his wife Doris are avid OU fans. Their son Scott was an outstanding OU athlete and is a member of the BAHOF. After excelling at K-State, their son Steve played quarterback for the New England Patriots in the NFL for sixteen seasons. 2018 saw the award going to longtime OU employee and huge supporter of OU basketball, Elaine Pyle.
In 2016, the Jim Smith (Class of 60) Award was initiated to recognize one of the most enthusiastic, relentlessly optimistic, positive, and upbeat Ottawa University athletes who ever took the field. Every year, we award the Jim Smith award to a male and female athlete who embody his spirit. Jim was instrumental in the establishment of the BAHOF when he served as Director of Advancement at OU. The award is two $250 scholarships to a male and female athlete.
In 2018 the Kurt Barbour Memorial Scholarship was initiated to honor and represent the life of Kurt Barbour. His legacy will always be his passion for athletics, faith and his family. Kurt played football with a dedication and commitment to excel. He earned All-Conference honors as a defensive back and had a never quit approach to everything he undertook. His hard work and talent allowed him to excel in all areas of his life. He serves as an example for all of us and his fight to beat his illness was without reproach. The first recipient received a $500 scholarship.
Also, in 2018 the Albert “Butch” Lewis Scholarship was initiated to honor as an outstanding athlete at OU from 1957-1961 as a member of the football, basketball and track teams. He lettered in all three sports, held the javelin record for many years and was the epitome of a great teammate. He spent his postgraduate career at Buena Vista College and during his tenure enjoyed many conference championships in no small part due to his leadership, coaching and serving as a role model for student athletes. The first recipient received a $500 Scholarship.
In 2019 the Distinguished Service Award was abandoned, and all recipients of that award were inducted as full members of the BAHOF with the 2019 award going to beloved professor and avid OU sports fan, Dr. Ron Averyt. Due to Covid there was no banquet in 2020. In 2021 the banquet was resumed and Kevin Eichner, Chancellor of OU and Corky Hedlund, former coach and professor were inducted.
In 2021 The Bettin Family BAHOF Scholarship was established. This new scholarship was established by Dr. Stanley Bettin ’61, inducted to the Braves Hall of Fame in 2005. Bettin participated in football (1957-60), basketball (1958-59), and golf (1958-1961) for the Braves. As his BAHOF biography notes, he was a leader and an integral part of championship teams in all three sports. After graduating from Ottawa University, Bettin received his DDS from the University of Missouri at Kansas City (UMKC) in 1965. He is member of the American Dental Association, Kansas Dental Association, American Orthodontic Society, American Endodontic Society, and a Fellow in the Academy of General Dentistry. He is retired from private practice in Lyons, Kansas and is Co-Chairman of the BAHOF Scholarship Fund. This scholarship is $1,000 annually.
Also, in 2021 The Dick Meirs Memorial Athletic Scholarship was established in memory of Dr. Richard (Dick) Meiers ‘53, inducted to the Braves Hall of Fame in 1994. Meiers lettered in football (1949-52), men’s basketball (1949-53), and track (1951-53). As a member of the OU football team, Meiers helped lead the Braves to a four-year record of 21-10 and to the 1950 KCAC Championship under head coach Dick Peters. On the basketball court Meiers led the Braves to a record of 68-28, to three KCAC Championships, to three Kansas NAIA Playoffs, and to one NAIA National Tournament. Meiers was part of three KCAC Track and Field Team Championships (1951, 1952, 1953). He was a three-time KCAC Champion in the shot put for the Braves. After graduating from Ottawa University, Meiers went on to Kansas City University Dental College, graduating in May of 1958, and he went on to a long career in Dentistry. He was a strong supporter of Ottawa University and BAHOF. This scholarship is $500 annually.
In 2022 The David C. Owen Leadership Scholarship was established by 1960 graduate, Dave Owen, and his wife Laura who both have served as a trustees of the University. Owen is a former State Senator and Lt. Governor of Kansas. He is a 1960 graduate of Ottawa University, where he was a standout athlete in both basketball and track. He was elected to the OU Braves Athletic Hall of Fame in 2000 and is a past president of the Hall of Fame. As President he orchestrated the establishment and endowment of the BAHOF Scholarship Program and now serves as Co-Chairman of the BAHOF Scholarship fund. He is the Chairman of the David C. Owen Leadership Institute at Ottawa University and is currently a member of the OU President’s Council. Professionally, Owen has nearly 60 years of business experience in the financial industry, having served as Founder and President of two banks in the Kansas City Area, and as Regional Manager for Stephens Inc, an investment banking firm headquartered in Little Rock, Arkansas. Dave was Co-Founder and CEO of ICOP, a public company traded on the NASDAQ Exchange, and a global market leader in motion video products for First Responders. ICOP received the Patriot Award from the U.S. Department of Defense in 2008. He was a member of the Board of the Greater Kansas City Fellowship of Christian Athletes for many years. He studied at Ohio State University and Rutgers University in conjunction with the American Bankers Association and earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Economics from Ottawa University. This scholarship is $5,000 annually.
We award seventeen scholarships annually at our banquet, ranging from $250 to $5,000, which has become one of the most significant events every year, at OU. In addition, each BAHOF inductee is given a plaque, and a plaque is also placed in the BAHOF Center where an introduction to the BAHOF is available on a kiosk that was purchased by the BAHOF. The plaques are created by John Boyd Martin, one of the most prominent portrait artists in the country and son of former OU President Andrew B. Martin.
The BAHOF also contributes in other ways. In 2007, the BAHOF raised $150,000 to pay for the Boucek Track in honor of Coach Boucek’s outstanding tenure as OU track coach. We sponsor speakers each year to speak to our athletes about leadership and personal achievement. Past speakers have included Bob Holmes, the One-Man Volleyball Team, Col. Ed Hubbard, Vietnam POW who spent 6 ½ years in the Hanoi Hilton, and Wayne Simien, NCAA All American basketball player from KU and founder of “Called to Greatness” an organization that mentors college students in several Kansas colleges and universities in Christian principles. There is collaboration with The David C. Owen Leadership Institute in these events.
The BAHOF hosts retuning athletes with a BBQ cookout and members have helped the athletes move in at the start of the school year.
Our efforts are greatly enhanced by Katie Tooley, our outstanding Sports Information Director, who vets all athletes nominated for the BAHOF, and Courtney Klaus, Alumni Director, who manages the activities of the BAHOF. Arabie Conner, who is a member of the BAHOF, as well as being Athletic Director and Jay Kahnt, head softball coach the longest serving OU coach, are advisors to the Executive Committee and members of the Selection Committee. Arabie and the Scholarship Chairman interview all candidates for the BAHOF scholarships prior to final selection.
Prepared by: Dave Owen (1/6/22)