Braves Athletic Hall of Fame (BAHOF) History

(Updated October 2018)

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, 111 individuals have been inducted, and four more will be inducted at our annual banquet on October 11, 2018. 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 Mowbry Student Union 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 from a donor and a $5,000 transfer from the BAHOF general fund. Each year all BAHOF members contribute $100 to the general fund to sustain the operations of the organization. BAHOF members, and others, contribute additional funds to support the scholarships. We initially awarded two $1,000 scholarships, which was increased to four $1,000 scholarships in 2008. 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 Geise 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 scholarship 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.

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.

In 2018 the Kurt Barbour Memorial Scholarship was initiated 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 addition the Jim smith Award was endowed and a cash award to the two recipients were awarded $250.00 each for the first time.

The end result is that the BAHOF funds now total approximately $200,000 of which approximately $160,000 is in our endowed account and $40,000 in our operating account. We award sixteen scholarships annually at our banquet which has become one of the most significant events every year, at OU. In addition to the scholarship funds, each recipient is given a plaque, and a plaque is also placed in the BAHOF area in the Hull 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.

The BAHOF hosted retuning athletes with a BBQ cookout for several years 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, Scholarship Chairman